The Magic Of Olives And Olive Oil

Many people don't consider the nutrition facts when it comes to olives .

Well that's a mistake, but it could be because a lot of us think of olives as more of a sometimes condiment rather than a food itself by lumping it into the same category as baby pickles, cocktail onions, and pickled peppers. Truth is, olives have a lot of wonderful health benefits to offer. I'm going to take a look at some of the benefits of olives, it's oil, and nutrition facts that may be handy to know. It's so easy to add more olives to our diet, because eating a mere three to five olives a day, black or green, it doesn't matter, can effectively strengthen one's blood vessels as well as reduce the symptoms of hemorrhoids. (not kidding) You power lifters should like that. Evidence shows eating olives on a regular basis can improve your eyesight, and can also help with the regeneration of bodily tissues, and that helps with the common signs of aging. The olive tree is one of the heartiest of all trees on the planet. It's able to survive salt water, adapting itself to almost any sunny and temperate environment, able to thrive in most soils, retaining its leaves year round, and living in some cases more than a thousand years, occasionally bearing fruit for centuries. 

So here's a little history. These ancient trees, which originated in the region that is today called Turkey, have had a huge impact on all the important civilizations of the Mediterranean for at least 4000 years, providing food, medicinal potions, and the most nourishing of oils. Olives have been cultivated in parts of the Mediterranean, including Crete, Greece, Italy and Syria, for at least 4,000 years. There is also carbon-dating evidence of olive trees in Spain over 4,000 years ago. Leafy branches of the olive tree were found in Tutankhamun's tomb. In Ancient Greece, women applied olive oil to their skin and hair after bathing as protection from the elements and to maintain a pleasant fragrance. FYI the women of Ancient Greece created eye shadow by mixing ground charcoal with olive oil. Hippocrates called olive oil "the great therapeutic."

For most Mediterranean people, the olive tree has been seen throughout history as almost holy, a symbol of peace, victory, and the endurance of life itself. Evoking feelings of harmony, vitality, and health. The leafy branches of the olive tree were ritually offered to deities and powerful figures as emblems of faith and purification, and they were also used to crown the victors of friendly games and bloody wars. Olive oil was used to anoint kings and athletes in ancient Greece. It was burnt in the sacred lamps of temples as well as being the "eternal flame" of the original Olympic Games. Sorry no gold medals, victors in the games were crowned with olive leaves. That should give you some idea of just how much this plant has been revered throughout history. It's widely believed colonizing Spaniards brought olives to the Americas. Now there are more than 25 million acres of olive trees planted worldwide. Spain is the largest single producer of olives at approximately 6 million tons per year. Italy is second at approximately 3.5 million tons, followed by Greece at 2.5 million. Turkey and Syria are the next major olive producers. In the United States, California's Central Valley is the site of most olive production, on approximately 27,000 acres.

There are certain types of fat that are actually good for the body. The majority of the olive is made up oleic acid, or omega-9 fatty acid, which is a very important monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats play an important role in the formation of cell membranes. Monounsaturated fats can also help to increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Not only can olives help to strengthen newly developed cells, but they also contain high amounts of the antioxidant vitamin E, which helps to prevent the occurrence of free radical cells. Free radicals are cells which have become damaged, and can even contribute to inflammation, tumor growth, and the development of cancer. As you can imagine, the combined effectiveness of stronger cells and the elimination of damaged cells can actually decrease our chances of developing a degenerative disease. Olives have plenty of great vitamins and minerals to contribute to our  diet too. As far as minerals go, olives contain calcium, iron, magnesiu, potasmsium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, natrium, and selenium. There are also plenty of vitamins in olives, such as B1, B6, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin k.

Lot's of grocery stores carry olives which are stuffed with tons of tasty items, like, pimentos, cheese, garlic, peppers and onions. Try a little olive oil, and spices to help vary the taste of your olives. Even though more attention has been given to the olives delicious, healthy oil, and medicinal uses of olive leaf extract, rather than their whole food use, olives are still one of the world's most widely enjoyed foods. Olives are a pitted fruit, like mango, cherry, peach, plum, apricot, nectarine, almond, and pistachio. While some olives are picked unripe, others are allowed to fully ripen on the tree. The color of an olive is not necessarily related to its state of maturity. Many olives start off green and turn black when fully ripe. However, some olives start off green and remain green when fully ripe. While others start of black and remain black. In the United States, most olives come from California. Young olives are typically green in color, picked in an unripe state, lye-cured, and then exposed to air as a way of triggering oxidation and conversion to a black outer color. Water curing, brine curing, and lye curing are the most common treatment processes for olives, and each of these treatments can affect the color and composition of the olives.

Hydroxytyrosol, an olive phytonutrient that has long been linked to cancer prevention, is being studied now for properties having the potential to prevent bone loss too. Several recent laboratory animal studies have found increased calcium in bone and decreased loss of total bone mass following consumption of this olive phytonutrient. In traditional herbal medicine practices, preparations from olives and olive leaves have often been used in treatment of inflammatory problems, including allergy-related inflammation. Olive leaf extracts have now been shown to function as anti-histamines at a cellular level. Blocking histamine receptors, relieves the inflammatory process. So here we have another great anti -inflamitory food that could replace over the counter drugs.
    Antioxidant Benefits:
    The vast majority of olive phytonutrients function as antioxidants and help us avoid unwanted problems due to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can often be related to an insufficient supply of antioxidant nutrients. Olives are a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, and they also contain small amounts of antioxidant minerals like selenium and zinc. However, it's the phytonutrient content of olives that makes them unique as an antioxidant rich food. The best-studied antioxidant phytonutrient found in olives is oleuropein. Oleuropein is found exclusively in olives, and it's been shown to decrease oxidation of LDL cholesterol, to scavenge nitric oxide, to lower several markers of oxidative stress, and to help protect nerve cells from oxygen-related (free radical) damage.

    One recent study that caught my attention talked about the ability of olives to increase blood levels of glutathione a premier antioxidant nutrient. In a very interesting research twist, study participants were not given fresh olives to eat but rather the pulpy residue from olives that had been previously milled to produce olive oil. Consumption of this olive pulp was associated with significantly increased glutathione levels in the blood of the participants, and improvement in their antioxidant capacity.

    Anti-Inflammatory Benefits:
    In addition to their function as antioxidants, many of the phytonutrients found in olives have well-documented anti-inflammatory properties. Extracts from whole olives function as anti-histamines at a cellular level. This is what provides us with anti-inflammatory benefits. The anti-inflammatory benefits of olives have been given special attention in heart patients, olive polyphenols lower blood levels of CRP. CRP is a widely used blood measurement for assessing the likelihood of unwanted inflammation.

    Anti-Cancer Benefits:
    The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of olives make them a natural for protection against cancer because chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are key factors in the development of cancer. By providing us with rich supplies of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, olives can help us avoid this dangerous combination of chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Research on whole olives and cancer has often focused on two cancer types, breast cancer and stomach cancer.  Olive phytonutrients interrupt the life cycle of breast cancer cells. Interruption of cell cycles has also been shown in the case of gastric cancer. Big job for the little olive. Olive consumption studies that focus on the antioxidant phytonutrients in olives, suppose an ability to protect DNA from oxygen damage. What DNA protection from unwanted oxidative stress means is, you'll have better overall cell function, decreasing risk of cancer.

    Recent research studies have also shown that the monounsaturated fat found in olives and olive oil can help to decrease blood pressure. The oleic acid found in olives, once absorbed up into the body and transported to our cells can change signaling patterns at a cell membrane level. These changes at a cell membrane level result in decreased blood
    pressure. In terms of their phytonutrient content, olives are nothing short of astounding. Few foods offer such a diverse range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Some of which are unique to olives themselves. Given this phytonutrient richness, it's not surprising that olives have documented health benefits that extend to most of our body systems. Olive benefits have been demonstrated for the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, nervous system, musculoskeletal system, immune system, inflammatory system, and digestive system. 

    Kalamata olives are one olive variety that deserves special mention. Authentic Kalamata olives come from Kalamon olive trees in southern Greece and get their name from Kalamata, their city of origin. European Union (EU) law provides Kalamata olives with Protected Geographical Status and Protected Designation of Origin and does not allow product labeling as "Kalamata" unless the olives have come from this specific area. Genuine Kalamata olives are usually allowed to ripe fully before harvest. Different methods of curing can be used during production of Kalamata olives. Authentic Kalamata olives from southern Greece that have been cured using red wine and/or red wine vinegar are available in many groceries, especially those groceries that stock specialty foods. Kalamata are only one among many Mediterranean olive varieties. Now when freshly picked from the tree, olives often have a bitter taste. This bitterness is related to their phytonutrient content, and especially to their concentration of oleuropein. So in order to help offset their bitter taste, olives are typically cured. Curing is what most people refer to as pickling. he processes by which olives are made edible, and delicious vary widely. Olives can be water cured, brine cured, lye cured, oil cured, dry cured or sun dried, like tomatoes. Preserving them in brine (salted water) is the most common way to eliminate the bitterness. This process may take from six weeks or up to nine months or longer. The curing time varies depending on the variety of olives, and the desired texture and taste. The three basic types of curing widely used to lower the bitterness in olives. They are :

    Water-curing of olives, just like the name suggests, involves submersion of the olives in water for a period of several weeks or longer. Water-cured olives typically remain slightly bitter because water-curing removes less oleuropein from the olives than other curing methods.

    Brine-curing involves the submersion of olives in a concentrated salt solution. Greek style olives in brine and Sicilian style olives in brine are examples of brine-cured olives. Brine-curing can take many  months, and many changes in flavor and phytonutrient composition can take place during the brine-curing process.

    Lye-curing involves the submersion of olives in a strong alkali solutions containing either sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or potassium hydroxide (KOH). Lye-curing usually occurs in a series of steps. Up to five lye solutions may be required to cure the entire olive, all the way down to the pit. Dark style ripe olives and green olives are examples of olives that have typically been lye cured. During the last stage of lye-curing, oxygen gas is often bubbled up through the lye solution to help darken the olives. In the United States, canned California black olives are typically lye-cured and oxygen-darkened. Curing is not the only factor that can influence the color of an olive, and it's worth pointing out that olive color does not automatically indicate anything about the curing process. Once again many olives start off green and turn black on the tree when fully ripe. Other olives start off green on the tree, remain green when fully ripe, and can only be darkened by curing and/or air exposure. Still other olives start of black on the tree and remain black at full maturity.

    As you can see it's not uncommon to find color varieties of olives that include green, yellow-green, green-gray, rose, red-brown, dark red, purplish-black and black. It's also not uncommon to find several different textures, including shiny, wilted, or cracked. The size of olives may range from fairly small to fairly large or jumbo. All of these olive varieties give you with excellent health benefits. Regardless of the variety you choose, select olives that still display a reasonable about of firmness and are not overly soft or mushy. Today olives are available in the market in a variety ways: natural and pitted, seasoned with a range of herbs, spices, hot peppers and even lemon and orange zests. Olives are a natural product, a guilt-free nutritious food with an exotic, sophisticated taste. Because their salty, dark flavor complements so many alcoholic beverages, most famously of course, vodka and gin.olives are standard fare at cocktail hours and celebratory gatherings. Try olives stuffed with cheese, peppers, anchovies, or almonds provide a special panache to such occasions. So, Olives are a remarkable source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Also there's no doubt that they're a really tasty versatile fruit. Transcending the relish dish. Make an effort to add more olives to your diet and you'll be healthier for it, I promise. Good Luck..

    Don't know about you readers, but I'm about to get my daily serving of olives. Cheers.

    Dropping two olives into a martini glass Stock Photo - 3430595

    A Friend Once Asked Me :

    Q :
    Is it safe to have sex, with your girlfriend using olive oil...??

    A :
    I said...You should not, have sex with Olive Oil ..... Popeye will get angry !

     Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha !!!!

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