What Are Olives and Why Are They So Good for Us?

Olives are a love or hate food in Western culture but are consumed widely and daily across the Mediterranean. And they’re a powerhouse of nutrition.

Although we don’t think of olives as fruits, they are actually stone fruits, related to mangoes, cherries, and almonds. Just like these fruits, olives are high in healthy fats and packed full of essential vitamins and minerals.Olives and olive oil are a fantastic source of vitamin E, which you may know as the ‘skin vitamin.’ Black olives are also a great source of iron, particularly important if you don’t eat red meat, which is essential for transporting oxygen around the body. Typically lacking in Western diets, olives also provide the essential mineral copper, aiding in the production of blood cells and good brain development.

You can consume olives in their pickled, pitted form, which you can buy in jars or at deli counters, or in the form of olive oil, of which there are many types. ‘Extra-virgin olive oil’ is rich and perfumed, and best drizzled over salads and fresh breads. If you buy ‘olive oil,’ this will be a blend of virgin and non-virgin oils and is best for use in cooking (i.e. roasting and frying veg and meat.)The biggest producer of olives in the world is Spain. Olives and olive oil are a staple of the Spanish diet (aka: the Mediterranean diet), which is widely credited as one of the healthiest diets in the world. Life expectancy of Spaniards is consistently placed in the top three in the world, so they’re obviously doing something right!