Oh olives! You really do not get the appreciation you deserve. The world is going nuts about olive oil and all its goodness but there is rarely any talk about the actual olive. These little pieces of heaven are simply amazing! Olives are packed with omega-3 (the good fat), iron and lots of other minerals and vitamins that we all need.

Types of olives

There are over tens of varieties of olives, based on the region they are harvested (Greece, Turkey, Spain, France, etc) and the way they are cured. We rarely consume olives raw due to their bitter taste. Most of us know olives only in their marinated form. The most common olives are

Green Olives

Green olives are typically harvested before they are fully ripped. They are picked in September but they are enjoyed year around. The most popular type of green olives is pimento stuffed green olives, where a red pepper is inserted in lieu of the pit.

Black Olives

Black olives are mature olives that have ripened fully. However some black olives are not naturally black, but have been darkened through fermentation processes. Black olives come in a variety of shapes and sizes and typically contain more oil than green olives.

Kalamata Olives

Kalamata olives are the most popular Greek olives. [/one_half]They are harvested fully ripe and they have a deep purple color although they are a type of black olives. They have a distinct almond shape look and they are usually cured in brine. They have a very strong and fruity flavor.

Health benefits

Olives have a plethora of health benefits. The monounsaturated fats help fight against “bad” cholesterol and help protect our heart and cell membranes. Moreover olives have a very high content of vitamin E. One cup of black olives has approximately 20 percent of the recommended daily value of this essential vitamin. Vitamin E and the flavonoids found in olives have been shown to have antioxidant properties as well as an ability to fight free radicals (those little rascals that destroy body cell structures and can cause a ton of diseases). Although olives bring a lot of health benefits we should be mindful of the quantities we eat, as they have a relatively high content of salt (up to 12% of the daily recommended value for six olives) due to the curing process.

Common uses

Olives can be consumed in so many ways. They can be used in salads, sandwiches or meat and casserole toppings.

What is your favorite way to eat olives? Share your yummy ideas with us below.