Posted by: godshealingplants | January 12, 2019



Olive trees have been cultivated in parts of the Mediterranean, including Crete and Syria, for at least 5,000 years. This ancient tree is also native to parts of Asia and Africa.

Olives constitute one of the world’s largest fruit crops, with 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. Mediterranean production of olives currently involves approximately 800 million trees. 90% of all Mediterranean olives are crushed for the production of olive oil, with the remaining 10% kept whole for eating.  


The olive is a fruit, not a vegetable. There are many types and colors; they come in green, purple, dark brown, black, and even pink color.


Olive tree can reach 8 – 15 meters (26 – 49 feet) in height, and has oval-shaped, elongated leaves. They are leathery, grayish green on the upper side and whitish on the lower side. 


The olive flower is white and only flowers after four years. The first harvest can be expected after 15 years.

The olive tree is an evergreen and can live up to 2000 years; and the average life of an olive tree is between 300 and 600 years.


One of oldest olive tree in the world is found on the island of Crete. The tree is about 4,000 years old and is still producing fruit. 


Olives are a remarkable source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Most prominent are two simple phenols, tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol and several terpenes, especially oleuropein, erythrodiol, uvaol, oleanolic acid, elenoic acid and ligstroside. It has flavonoids—including apigenin, luteolin, cyanidins, and peonidins,—are typically provided in valuable amounts by lives, as are hydroxycinnamic acids like caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid and coumaric acid. The phytonutrient content of olives depends upon olive variety, stage of maturation, and the way it is treated after being harvested.


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


Olives are loaded with antioxidants, which plays out in the prevention of a number of different diseases, including heart disease, stroke, DNA damage, and cancer, specifically breast and stomach cancer. Other benefits relate to the health of the nervous system, respiratory system, immunity, and digestion, to name a few. Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) is another important antioxidant nutrient in olives, along with antioxidant minerals like selenium and zinc.


Here are some additional benefits:

Bone and Connective Tissue – The anti-inflammatory abilities of the monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and polyphenols in black olives may also help dull the asperity of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Most of the suffering in having one of these three bone maladies is brought about by high levels of free radicals. Olive oil also contains a chemical called oleocanthal, which acts as a painkiller. Research has found that oleocanthal inhibits inflammation by the same means that drugs like Ibuprofen do.

Cancer Prevention – Black olives are a great source of vitamin E, which has the brilliant ability to neutralize free radicals in body fat. Studies have shown that a diet supplemented with olive oil leads to a lower risk of colon cancer.

Cardiovascular Benefits – When free radicals oxidize cholesterol, blood vessels are damaged and fat builds up in arteries, possibly leading to a heart attack. The antioxidant nutrients in black olives impede this oxidation of cholesterol, thereby helping to prevent heart disease. Olives do contain fat, but it’s the healthy monounsaturated kind, which has been found to shrink the risk of atherosclerosis and increase good cholesterol. 

Digestive Tract HealthFrequent consumption of both vitamin E and the monounsaturated fats in black olives is associated with lower rates of colon cancer. These nutrients help prevent colon cancer by neutralizing free radicals. Olive oil’s protective function also has a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis. Olive oil activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more naturally than prescribed drugs, thereby lowering the incidence of gallstone formation.

Eye Health – One cup of black olives contains ten percent of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin A which, when converted into the retinal form, is crucial for healthy eyes. It enables the eye to better distinguish between light and dark, thereby improving night vision. Furthermore, Vitamin A is believed effective against cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and other age-related ocular diseases.

Good Source of Iron – Black olives are very high in iron. The ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body is due to the presence of iron in the blood. If we suffer from a lack of iron, our tissues don’t get enough oxygen, and we may feel cold or weak. Iron also plays a vital role in the production of energy. It is a necessary part of a number of enzymes, including iron catalase, iron peroxidase, and the cytochrome enzymes. It also helps produce carnitine, a nonessential amino acid important for the utilization of fat. As we see, the proper function of the immune system is dependent on sufficient iron.

Skin and Hair Health – Black olives are rich in fatty acids and antioxidants that nourish, hydrate and protect. Chief among those is vitamin E. Whether applied topically or ingested, vitamin E has been shown to protect skin from ultraviolet radiation, thus guarding against skin cancer and premature aging. You can gain a healthy, glowing complexion by washing your face in warm water, applying a few drops of olive oil to vulnerable spots, and letting it work its magic for 15 minutes before rinsing it off. In fact, you can moisturize with olive oil before any bath, and even condition your hair with it by mixing it with an egg yolk and leaving it before rinsing and washing. 


Olives are traditionally sold in glass jars and cans; however, many stores are now offering them in bulk in large barrels or bins.


While whole olives are very common, you may also find ones that have been pitted, as well as olives that have been stuffed with 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.


When selecting olives from an olive bar, it’s not uncommon to find several different size ranging from fairly small to fairly large or jumbo and come in many different colors. Each of these options among olive varieties can provide you with valuable health benefits. In general, regardless of the variety you choose, select olives that display a reasonable about of firmness and are not too soft or mushy.

Another thing to consider is to buy olives that still have pits. Removing the pit during processing bruises the olive and makes it easier for molds to take over.


It is better to choose olives packed in glass over those that come in cans because the cans are lined with bisphenol-A (BPA), a hormone-disrupting petrochemical derivative.

If olives in cans are the only option, you should avoid buying them from large-scale producers, which are more likely to be sprayed with pesticides during the growing process and then treated with harsh chemicals—namely lye, to speed curing—during processing.


Preferably you should opt for organic olives that are traditionally cured, in order to avoid the ones that have been cured with lye.

Olives in glass jars once opened can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month. Canned olives once opened should be used within a week. 


To pit olives, press them with the flat side of a broad knife.


This will help break the flesh so that you can easily remove the pit with your fingers or with a knife.

How to Enjoy

Here are some suggestions:

Green olives festive appetizer with prosciutto and melon

Broccoli pasta salad with sliced black olives


Pan fried chicken with vegetables, spices and olives.

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

Olive on a vegetable pizza give it that extra special flavor

Potatoes and green beans mixed with a delicious olive oil dressing and olives

Add chopped olives to your favorite salad recipe.   

Spaghetti squash with chopped olives, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs of your choice.  






Lopez-Lopez A, Rodriguez-Gomez F, Cortes-Delgado A et al. Effect of the Previous Storage of Ripe Olives on the Oil Composition of Fruits. JAOCS, Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society. Champaign: Jun 2010. Vol. 87, Iss. 6; p. 705-714. 2010.

Malheiro R, Sousa A, Casal S et al. Cultivar effect on the phenolic composition and antioxidant potential of stoned table olives. Food Chem Toxicol. 2011 Feb;49(2):450-7. Epub 2010 Nov 23. 2011.



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