25 Dec

Olives by WHFoods

Olives OlivesOlives are harvested in September but available year round to make a zesty addition to salads, meat and poultry dishes and, of course, pizza.

Olives cannot be eaten right off of the tree; they require special processing to reduce their intrinsic bitterness. These processing methods vary with the olive variety, region where they are cultivated and the desired taste, texture and color. Some olives are picked green and unripe, while others are allowed to fully ripen on the tree to a black color. Yet, not all of the black olives available begin with a black color. Some processing methods expose unripe greens olives to the air, and the subsequent oxidation turns them a dark color. In addition to the original color of the olive, the color is affected by fermentation and/or curing in oil, water, brine or salt.

Health Benefits

Olives are concentrated in monounsaturated fats and a good source of vitamin E. Because monounsaturated fats are less easily damaged than polyunsaturated fats, it’s good to have some in our cells’ outer membranes and other cell structures that contain fats, such as the membranes that surround the cell’s DNA and each of its energy-producing mitochondria. The stability of monounsaturated fats translates into a protective effect on the cell that, especially when combined with the antioxidant protection offered by vitamin E, can lower the risk of damage and inflammation. In addition to vitamin E, olives contain a variety of beneficial active phytonutrient compounds including polyphenols and flavonoids, which also appear to have significant anti-inflammatory properties.

Cellular Protection Against Free Radicals

Vitamin E is the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. It goes after and directly neutralizes free radicals in all the fat-rich areas of the body. In combination, stable monounsaturated fats and vitamin E add a significant safety factor to cellular processes like energy production, a process that generates free radicals even when things are running smoothly.

When cellular processes such as mitochondrial energy production are not well protected, the free radicals produced can interact with and damage any nearby molecules—a process called oxidation. When a cell’s mitochondria become damaged, the cell cannot produce enough energy to supply its needs and dies. If a cell’s DNA becomes damaged, the cell may mutate and become cancerous.

Protection From Heart Disease

Free radical damage can lead to numerous ailments. For example, when free radicals cause the oxidation of cholesterol, the oxidized cholesterol damages blood vessels and builds up in arteries, and can eventually lead to heart attack or stroke. So, by preventing the oxidation of cholesterol, the nutrients in olives help to prevent heart disease.

Support Gastrointestinal Health

If free radicals damage the cellular DNA in colon cells, the cells can mutate into cancer cells. By neutralizing free radicals, the nutrients in olives help prevent colon cancer. A higher intake of both vitamin E and the monounsaturated fats in olives is actually associated with lower rates of colon cancer.

Beneficial Anti-Inflammatory Effects

The anti-inflammatory actions of the monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and polyphenols in olives may also help reduce the severity of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, three conditions where most of the damage is caused by high levels of free radicals. The vitamin E in olives may even help to reduce the frequency and/or intensity of hot flashes in women going through menopause.

Description

Olives are fruits of the tree known as Olea europaea. “Olea” is the Latin word for “oil,” reflecting the olives very high fat content, of which 75% is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. “Europaea” reminds us that olives are native to the Mediterranean region of Europe.

Olives cannot be eaten right off of the tree; they require special processing to reduce their intrinsic bitterness, caused by the glycoside oleuropein, which is concentrated in their skin. These processing methods vary with the olive variety, cultivation region, and the desired taste, texture and color to be created.

Some olives are picked green and unripe, while others are allowed to fully ripen on the tree to a black color. Yet, not all of the black olives available begin with a black color. Some processing methods expose unripe greens olives to the air, and the subsequent oxidation turns them a dark color.

In addition to the original color of the olive determining its finished characteristics, the color is affected by a variety of processing methods that olives undergo including fermentation and/or curing in oil, water, brine or salt. These methods may not only cause the olives to turn black, purple, brown, red, or yellow, but they also affect the skin texture, causing it to be smooth and shiny or wrinkled.

Some of the many available delicious varieties of olives include Moroccan oil-cured, Kalamata, Nicoise, Picholine and Manzanilla. In addition to varying in size and appearance, the flavor of olives spans the range from sour to smoky to bitter to acidic. In addition to whole olives, you can often find them pitted.

Olive oil is available in a variety of grades that reflects the degree to which it has been processed. Extra-virgin is the initial unrefined oil from the first pressing. Virgin olive oil is also derived from the first pressing but has a higher acidity level than extra virgin olive oil (as well as less phytonutrients and a less delicate taste). Chemically, the difference bewtween an extra virgin oil and a virgin oil involves the amount of free oleic acid, which is a marker for overall acidity. According to the standards adopted by the International Olive Oil Council, “virgin” can contain up to 2% free oleic acid, while “extra virgin” can contain up to 0.8% of free oleic acid. Pure olive oil usually means a lower-quality oil produced from subsequent pressings.

History

Olives, one of the oldest foods known, are thought to have originated in Crete between five and seven thousand years ago. Their use quickly spread throughout Egypt, Greece, Palestine and Asia Minor.

Olives are mentioned in the Bible, depicted in ancient Egyptian art, and played an important role in Greek mythology. Since ancient times, the olive tree has provided food, fuel, timber and medicine for many civilizations. It has also been regarded as a symbol of peace and wisdom. Olive oil has been consumed since 3000 BC.

Olives were brought to America by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers during the 15th and 16th century. Franciscan missinariesw introduced olives into California in the late 18th century. Today, much of the commercial cultivation of olives occurs in Spain, Italy, Greece, and Turkey.

How to Select and Store

While olives have been traditionally sold in jars and cans, many stores are now offering them in bulk in large barrels. Buying bulk olives will allow you to experiment with many different types with which you may be unfamiliar and to purchase only as many as you need at one time.

While whole olives are very common, you may also find ones that have been pitted, as well as olives that have been stuffed with either peppers, garlic or almonds. If you purchase olives in bulk, make sure that the store has a good turnover and keeps their olives immersed in brine for freshness and to retain moistness.

Olives will keep freshest if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How to Enjoy

Tips for Preparing Olives:

To pit olives, press them with the flat side of a broad bladed knife. This will help break the flesh so that you can easily remove the pit with your fingers or the knife. The brine in which olives are packed can be used as a replacement for salted water in recipes.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Olive tapenade is a delicious and easy-to-make spread that you can use as a dip, sandwich spread, or topping for fish and poultry. To make it, put pitted olives in a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and your favorite seasonings.

Toss pasta with chopped olives, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs of your choice.

Marinate olives in olive oil, lemon zest, coriander seeds and cumin seeds.

Add chopped olives to your favorite tuna or chicken salad recipe.

Set out a small plate of olives on the dinner table along with some vegetable crudités for your family to enjoy with the meal.

Safety

Olives are not a commonly allergenic food, are not known to contain measurable amounts of goitrogens, oxalates, or purines, and are also not included in the Environmental Working Group’s 2006 report “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” as one of the 12 foods most frequently containing pesticide residues.

Nutritional Profile

Olives are a very good source of monounsaturated fat and a good source of iron, vitamin E, copper, and dietary fiber.

For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Olives.

In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Olives is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that that amount represents; the nutrient density rating; and the food’s World’s Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. Read detailed information on our Food and Recipe Rating System.

Olives
1.00 cup
154.56 calories
iron 4.44 mg 24.7 2.9 good
vitamin E 4.03 mg 20.1 2.3 good
dietary fiber 4.30 g 17.2 2.0 good
copper 0.34 mg 17.0 2.0 good
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

In Depth Nutritional Profile for Olives

[Source click here

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