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Olive is a fruit. Olive tree is a slow growing, evergreen tree with gnarled trunk with grey, fissured branches and foliage of gray-green, fleshy, narrow leaves. It may reach up to 50 feet in height in their natural habitat and live for more than 500 years. It grows well in frost free, dry, and well-drained soils. It starts bearing fruits when the plant reaches about 3-4 years of age, however, some cultivars may take much longer time before their first harvest. The tree blooms in the spring which subsequently develops into small round to oval green color berries by summer.

Olive is a drupe or stone-fruit with a central single seed, surrounded by edible pulp. Their size and shape greatly varies depending on the cultivar type. On an average, a fruit weighs about 3-5 g. Raw fruits are green, which turn yellow to dark as it ripens further. Its fruits are generally picked at stages, whether they destined to be used as table fruits or pressed for oil.

Raw olives are incredibly bitter, so once harvested they are cured and then usually preserved in salt or brine. The small, oval olive fruit has a flavour ranging from salty to mild and sweet. It can be harvested at any stage – the immature fruit is green; it turns red-brown and then black when fully ripened – which accounts in part for the variation in flavour.

Varieties and Preparation:

The versatile olive fruit can be eaten as an appetiser, either on its own or stuffed, or used as a cooking ingredient, and is a staple of Mediterranean cuisine.

1. Kalamata
Originating from and named after the region of Kalamata in Greece, this olive is a black, medium-sized fruit with a salty flavour, and is probably the most popular olive in Australia.

2. Nicoise
A small black French olive, the Nicoise has a nutty flavour and is traditionally used in the salad of the same name.

3. Ligurian
A small oily Italian black olive with a mild flavour, the Ligurian olive is a good addition to fish dishes.

4. Tapenade
A paste made from black olives, olive oil, capers, anchovies and lemon juice, olive tapenade is used as an addition to a variety of recipes such as appetisers, sandwiches pizzas and pasta dishes.

5. Stuffed
Made using green olives, which are larger, firmer and easier to pit than black varieties, stuffed olives commonly contain such flavours as capers, nuts, feta or anchovies.

6. Marinated
Any variety of olive can be marinated. Marinades usually consist of herbs, such as rosemary or oregano, as well as other flavours such as garlic or chilli.

Health Benefits of Olive:

Olives have been viewed as very healthy food. The fruit provides calories; contain significant amounts of plant-derived anti-oxidants, minerals, phyto-sterols, and vitamins.

Olives are a moderate source of calories; 100 g of fruits provide just 115 calories. Their calorie content basically comes from fats. Nonetheless, the fruit composes healthy fat in the form of mono-unsaturated fatty acids  like oleic acid (18:1) and palmitoleic acid (16:1) that help lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increase HDL or "good cholesterol" in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

Olive fruit contains tyrosol phenolic compounds such as oleuropein and oleocanthal. These compounds are responsible for its bitter and pungent taste. Oleocanthal, oleurpein, and its derivative hydroxytyrosol are nature’s most powerful anti-oxidants. Together with vitamin E and carotenoids, they play a vital role fighting against cancer, inflammation, coronary artery disease, degenerative nerve diseases, diabetes…etc.

Studies suggest that oleocanthal has ibuprofen (NSAID) like ant-inflammatory activities. Mediterranean diet that uses olive and its oil may be responsible in part for the lower incidences of coronary artery disease.

Olive contains a good amount of vitamin E. 100 g cured, and canned fruits provide 1.65 mg (11% of RDA) of a-tocopherol. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.

In addition, the fruits contain good amounts of minerals like calcium, copper, iron, manganese, and zinc. Further, they are small sources of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, choline, and pantothenic acid.

Oil expressed from these fruits is recognized as one of the healthiest edible oils since it contains less saturated fat, and composes linoleic (omega-6) and linolenic acid (omega-3) essential fatty acids at the recommended 8:1 ratio.

Read More at Wikipedia

Nutrition Data for Olives, ripe, canned (small-extra large) (09193)

NutrientNutrient value per 100 gm1 tbsp1 large1 small
Water79.99 g6.71916 g3.51956 g2.55968 g
Energy115 kcal9.66 kcal5.06 kcal3.68 kcal
Protein0.84 g0.07056 g0.03696 g0.02688 g
Total lipid (fat)10.68 g0.89712 g0.46992 g0.34176 g
Carbohydrate, by difference6.26 g0.52584 g0.27544 g0.20032 g
Fiber, total dietary3.2 g0.2688 g0.1408 g0.1024 g
Sugars, total0 g0 g0 g0 g
NutrientNutrient value per 100 gm1 tbsp1 large1 small
Calcium, Ca88 mg7.392 mg3.872 mg2.816 mg
Iron, Fe3.3 mg0.2772 mg0.1452 mg0.1056 mg
Magnesium, Mg4 mg0.336 mg0.176 mg0.128 mg
Phosphorus, P3 mg0.252 mg0.132 mg0.096 mg
Potassium, K8 mg0.672 mg0.352 mg0.256 mg
Sodium, Na735 mg61.74 mg32.34 mg23.52 mg
Zinc, Zn0.22 mg0.01848 mg0.00968 mg0.00704 mg
NutrientNutrient value per 100 gm1 tbsp1 large1 small
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid0.9 mg0.0756 mg0.0396 mg0.0288 mg
Thiamin0.003 mg0.000252 mg0.000132 mg9.6E-5 mg
Riboflavin0 mg0 mg0 mg0 mg
Niacin0.037 mg0.003108 mg0.001628 mg0.001184 mg
Vitamin B-60.009 mg0.000756 mg0.000396 mg0.000288 mg
Folate, DFE0 µg0 µg0 µg0 µg
Vitamin B-120 µg0 µg0 µg0 µg
Vitamin A, RAE20 µg1.68 µg0.88 µg0.64 µg
Vitamin A, IU403 IU33.852 IU17.732 IU12.896 IU
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)1.65 mg0.1386 mg0.0726 mg0.0528 mg
Vitamin D (D2 + D3)0 µg0 µg0 µg0 µg
Vitamin D0 IU0 IU0 IU0 IU
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)1.4 µg0.1176 µg0.0616 µg0.0448 µg
NutrientNutrient value per 100 gm1 tbsp1 large1 small
Fatty acids, total saturated1.415 g0.11886 g0.06226 g0.04528 g
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated7.888 g0.662592 g0.347072 g0.252416 g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated0.911 g0.076524 g0.040084 g0.029152 g
Cholesterol0 mg0 mg0 mg0 mg
NutrientNutrient value per 100 gm1 tbsp1 large1 small
Caffeine0 mg0 mg0 mg0 mg
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2013. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 26. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page
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