Olives And Your Health

FDA announces qualified health claim for Olive Oil and reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

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Why Eat Olives?
Indulging in a small handful of olives a day just might keep the cardiologist away. Between 75% and 85% of the caloric content of olives is monounsaturated fatty acid, which, when replacing saturated fat in the diet, may have significant cardioprotective properties. Numerous studies have shown that people who live in certain Mediterranean regions and who consume large amounts of olives and olive oil tend to have a decreased incidence of coronary heart disease and certain cancers. The monounsaturated fatty acid content of olives can help to lower LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) levels and it also prevents the build up of dangerous arterial plaque on artery walls. While olives are relatively low in calories, and high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, it is important to note that if you are on a low-sodium diet you should try to go easy on your consumption of olives. Depending upon how they were processed, some olives can be quite high in sodium.

Olives are primarily grown in the Mediterranean countries, and in some parts of the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. Olives are a piquant, healthy snack enjoyed worldwide. This much beloved tiny fruit is originally a native of Asia Minor, and in fact, the olive tree is among the oldest known cultivated trees in the world. The appeal and allure of olives can be attributed to their flavor, texture, and aroma, with a complexity in flavor that varies from sour, to bitter, to piquant, to sweet.

Availability
Assorted olives are available year round.

Shopping
If a good selection of olives is not available at your supermarket, shop for them at a gourmet store. Gourmet stores often carry a wide assortment in large barrels where you can pick and choose the ones you like. If your store doesn't display the olives this way, ask the counterperson if you can taste to find the one(s) you prefer.

Storage
Olives are best kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator. To prevent rancidity, keep them away from excessive sunlight or heat.

Preparation
While olives are high in fat and calories, a little goes a long way. Pitting olives other than tiny nicoise olives can easily be done with the flat side of a chef's knife. Place an olive on a flat work surface, cover with the flat side of the knife, and press down until you feel the olive give. The flesh will split, making it easy to remove the pit. Large brine-cured olives will be easier to pit than smaller, oil-cured olives.

Use olives like a condiment to spike the flavor of a sauce (pasta or other), to enliven a pizza, to toss in salads or grain dishes, or to serve on sandwiches. Olives may be served whole, sliced, pitted, unpitted, or stuffed.

Olives can be crushed to create tapenade, a savory paste made from olives, capers, red peppers, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and ground black pepper. Tapenade can be spread on toast or crackers, used as a crudite dip, or used as a seasoning in sauces.

Nutrition Charts

Brine-Cured Olives
1 oz pitted

Oil-Cured Olives
1 oz
Calories
80
Calories
162
Total fat (g)
7.5
Total fat (g)
12
Saturated fat (g)
0.9
Saturated fat (g)
1
Monounsaturated fat (g)
5.7
Monounsaturated fat (g)
8.1
Polyunsaturated fat (g)
0.9
Polyunsaturated fat (g)
2
Dietary fiber (g)
0.2
Dietary fiber (g)
2
Protein (g)
0.5
Protein (g)
0
Carbohydrate (g)
3
Carbohydrate (g)
6
Cholesterol (mg)
0
Cholesterol (mg)
0
Sodium (mg)
462
Sodium (mg)
668

 

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