The branches of the olive tree have long been regarded as symbols of peace, but they also bear one of the world’s healthiest, marvelous fruits. The botanical name of the olive is Olea europaea. As far as we can tell, this fruit dates back to the 17th century B.C., since ancient Egyptian records from that time contain references to the fruit. Even the Bible mentions olives a number of times. The origin of the word “olive” in English, which itself dates from around 1200 A.D, can be traced back to the Latin word “olivea”. Since the olive is a native Mediterranean fruit, it should not seem surprising that Italy and Spain are the largest producers of olives in the world, where these fruits have become a diet mainstay. It was circa 1769 when the Spaniards introduced olive trees to California, and they have flourished in the state ever since. Now, nearly two hundred thousand tons of commercial olive crops are provided by California every year. It was back in the late 19th century when a way to can olives was invented, which involved the use of alkaline solution and brine. Year-round availability of olives was gained as a result of this process and the olive industry was consequently boosted.
Types of Olives
Arbequina Olive: The Arbequina Olive originates in a small Spanish town near Seville. It has a distinct earthy flavor, which is similar to artichoke or fruity apple. They are preferred for the production of olive oil.
Black Greek Olive: Throughout central Greece, the Black Greek variety of olive happens to be plentiful. Natural sea salt is used to ferment these olives. They can be black, dark brown or deep purple when they reach the table, with a flavor that is identical to red wine.
Calamata Olive: Also known as Kalamata, this variety of olive is grown in the regions of Central and Western Greece, and the Peloponnese. The Calamata possesses a deeply complex fruity flavor and a deep purple coloring.
Castelvetrano Olive: Also known as the Nocellara del Belice, this olive variety is grown in Western Sicily. Not only do they happen to be much greener than typical green olives, but also have a sweeter
Olives and Human Health
Olives are a foundation of the well-known healthy Mediterranean diet. These wholesome fruits tend to be rich in antioxidants, and they also contain “good fat” as a result of which the risk of heart disease is reduced. Since they come in a plethora of varieties, there are olives for virtually any palate. There are many reasons why you should make olives a regular feature on your menu.
The “good fats” that olives are loaded up with are actually unsaturated fats, which are responsible for lowering total cholesterol, especially the LDL “bad” cholesterol. Along with the fiber contained in plants and vegetables, these fats also help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Not all fat is bad, and your body actually needs the “good fats.” Not only do these fats provide you with energy because of their concentrated calories, but they can also make you feel fuller. Good fats also play a role in your growth and skin health. If your diet does not include enough healthy fats, it will affect your metabolism, especially the metabolism of the vitamins A, D, E and K. Apart from containing monounsaturated fats, olives also happen to be rich in copper, iron and Vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble antioxidant through which cell damage and many diseases can be prevented. Thus, olives are packed with tasty goodness, which is the reason that every country where these fruits grow has incorporated them as a traditional part of local life. Many styles and varieties of olives have been developed. Of course, the same health benefits are promoted by olive oil as well, although less condensed. Olive oil is as versatile as olives when it comes to its kitchen usage, which includes dressing, marinating, sautéing, and more.
So, the next time an easy snack is required, a menu is being drawn up for a family dinner or a party is being planned, the olive should be considered in all its colors, flavors and pairings. The fact that the fruit is thousands of years old is enough assurance that olives are one of the healthiest fruits that can be consumed today.