Olives - the healthy staple in the Mediterranean diet

Where are olives from?

There are over 800 million olive trees planted worldwide. There are more olive trees and people in Greece. It is estimated over 170 million trees are planted in Greece, while the population is only about 10.4 million people. 

The average life of an olive tree is between 300 and 600 years. One of the oldest olive trees in the world is on the island of Crete in Greece. It is about 4,000 years old and is still producing olives. People who live in southern European countries like Italy, Greece or Portugal consume olives and extra virgin olive oil every day. 

Why olives have different colours? 

Olives are considered fruits from the olive tree. They can be distinguish by colour, size and shape. The olives get their colour from the moment they are picked from the tree. The olive tree always gives green olives and then they change the colour as the mature, so they become darker and softer. The colours may vary from light purple to dark purple and black. All the green olives that stay on the tree will eventually become black. Most of the olives are picked green as they are less bitter and contain more oil.  

Why olives have different sizes? 

The size of an olive depend on the variety. You will see the final shape of the fruit when the ripening period approaches. Some varieties provide fruits that are very large (even 6 times larger than the small ones) like the Sicilian variety Castelvetrano  and some are just always very small like other Italian varieties Casaliva and Taggiasche. The large size olives varieties with a sweet flavour are more popular as healthy snacks. 

Why are olives so crucial in the Mediterranean diet?

Olives are a food of an amazing nutritional value. Olives are considered fatty fruits, but 70% of this fat is healthy monounsaturated fat.

Olives are packed with nutrients and have lots of health benefits:

  •  Rich in antioxidants
  •  Rich in vitamins
  •  Cholesterol-free
  •  Source of healthy mono-saturated fats
  •  Low calorie
  •  Low in saturated fats

The vitamins and antioxidants found in olives may provide essential health benefits.

Olives are a great source of vitamin E, which can improve skin health and help your immune system.

Some studies have shown that olives may protect against osteoporosis, in which bones weaken. 





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