From Dr. Mercola:
Olives are one of those wonders of nature that are easy to take for granted, yet deserve special attention. Technically a fruit, olives belong to the group of “drupes,” which are fruits with a pit or stone. Other drupes include peaches, mangos, cherries, nectarines, almonds and pistachios.
There are hundreds of varieties of olives, which grow on trees that are mostly native to the Mediterranean (as well as areas of Asia and Africa). Olive trees are remarkable in their own right, as they tend to live to be several hundred years old. There is at least one record of an olive tree that is 2,000 years old.1
In the U.S., five olive varieties make up the majority of the market share: Manzanillo, Sevillano, Mission, Ascolano and Barouni. These are grown mostly in California.
You may also enjoy Kalamata olives, which refer to those from Kalamon olive trees in Greece (they’re named after their city of origin, Kalamata). Bear in mind that olives labeled “Kalamata-style” or “Kalamata-type” are probably not true Kalamata olives.2
It’s possible to become quite a connoisseur of olives, as each variety has its own unique flavor profile. Olive bars have even become popular at specialty stores, which allow you to taste different olives and curing methods.
Olives Are Anti-Inflammatory, Disease-Fighting Powerhouses
If you love olives, you’re in luck. This is one satisfying snack or meal ingredient you can feel good about eating. Many people have shunned olives because of their high fat content, but this is precisely one reason that makes them so very good for you. And there are others as well.
Heart Healthy Fats
Most of the fat (more than 75 percent) in olives is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat known for lowering your risk of heart disease.
It’s worth noting that macadamia nuts also contain high amounts of this beneficial fat (about 60 percent). As reported by the George Mateljan Foundation:3
“When diets low in monounsaturated fat are altered to increase the monounsaturated fat content (without becoming too high in total fat), research study participants typically experience a decrease in their blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and LDL:HDL ratio.
All of these changes lower our risk of heart disease. 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 (specifically, altering G-protein associated cascades).
These changes at a cell membrane level result in decreased blood pressure.”
Research published in the journal BMC Medicine further concluded, “Olive oil consumption, specifically the extra-virgin variety, is associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality in individuals at high cardiovascular risk.”4
Powerful Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Olives contain antioxidants “in abundance,” according to research published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.5
This includes phenol (hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol), polyphenols (oleuropein