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Super Food of the Week: Olives
We have seen a growing trend this year with a shift from “fat free” foods to healthy fats. While more attention is often given to olive oil than its whole counterpart, olives are actually one of the world’s healthiest and most widely consumed foods. While olives are small, they pack a surprising nutritional punch, making them my super food of the week.
While commonly recognized as a high-fat food (about 80-85% of the calories in olives come from fat), olives are not always appreciated for the type of fat they contain. Remember, not all fats are bad and that you do need to incorporate good fats into your diet to maintain good health, absorb fat soluble vitamins and provide energy for the body. Olives are unusual in their fat quality, because they provide almost three-quarters of their fat as oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid which is the type of fat that helps to decrease LDL, or lousy, cholesterol.
Olives also contain:
- Iron: which is necessary for the body to manufacture red blood cells
- Fiber: Helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract
- Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant
Are green olives better for you than black olives?
While some olives can be eaten right off of the tree, most olives sold commercially have been processed to reduce their bitterness. Nutritionally, there is not much difference between green and black olives. The main difference is in the taste--black olives are olives that have been ripened over time. They differ from green olives in that green olives are picked before they are ripe, which gives them a tangy flavor. However, some olives start off green and remain green when fully ripe, while others start off black and remain black.
How can you include olives in your diet?
- Make an olive tapenade spread that you can use as a dip, sandwich spread, or topping for meat.
- Toss chopped olives in with your pasta
- Marinate olives with your favorite seasonings
- Add chopped olives to your favorite tuna or chicken salad recipe.
- Set out a small plate of olives on the dinner table for an antipasto dish with your meal.
- Make a kalamata olive dressing for your favorite salad