Everything you wanted to know about olives

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1. The olive tree, Oleaeuropaea, is native to countries in Asia and Africa and along the Mediterranean Sea.

2. Unripe olives are green in color and as they ripen they turn black or dark purple.

3. Olives are a fruit, not vegetables as many people believe.

4. Olive oil contains no cholesterol, salt or carbohydrate.

5. Olives are rich in vitamin E and healthy fats.

6. An olive tree can live up to 600 years.

7. It can take up to 10 years for an olive tree to bear fruit.

8. Globally, people consume approximately 2.25 million tonnes of olive oil each year.

9. Spain, Italy and Greece are the top olive producing nations in the world.

10. Since 1990, consumption of olive oil in the United States has increased significantly. In the last two decades, its consumption has increased from 30 million gallons to nearly 70 million gallons a year.

11. 2,550 olive branches were used at the 2004 Olympics Games when the tradition of crowning Olympians with an olive wreath was reintroduced.

Hear what our expert has to say

“Olives, whether eaten whole or as olive oil, offer exceptional health properties. Olives contain an abundance of antioxidants, protective disease fighting compounds found in plants. Few other foods with high fat content offer such a wide range of antioxidant nutrients. All these elements combine to reduce excessive inflammation and keep the body healthy.

They also work to neutralise the damaging effects of free radicals on the body’s cells, which can contribute to disease and ill health. Despite being high in fat, olive oil is a better choice compared to other oils for your heart. The majority of fat found in olives is monounsaturated fatty acid and oleic acid, both healthy forms of fat.

These elements suppress the production of unhealthy cholesterol which has been shown to play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease. Even though monounsaturated fat is good for your heart, it is still high in calories. So it should be consumed only in moderate amounts if you are concerned about weight gain and excess calorie intake.

Care must be taken when using olive oil for frying. Shallow frying is safe; but with deep frying and intense heating the olive oil is heated beyond its smoke point and starts to break down chemically. This results in the oil losing most of its antioxidants, releasing toxic chemicals in the form of smoke and producing free radicals (atoms that damage healthy cell).”


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