An olive is commonly thought of as a vegetable, but it is actually a fruit that originates from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Olive trees live from 300-600 years, the oldest tree is on the isle of Crete and is 4,000 years old. It is still bearing fruit! Throughout history, the olive branch has been known as a symbol of peace and a declaration of truce. Olympic champions were adorned with olive branch crowns and it appears on the flags of 7 nations, 4 US states, and the flag of the UN.
The pungent flavor of the olive fruit has captivated human tastebuds for centuries. Olives appear in some of the oldest cookbooks ever discovered, written 2,000 years ago! Known as a black olive, Kalamatas are actually dark purple in color. They are named after the city of Kalamata in southern Greece. The olive fruit is similar to a peach or plum, each one containing a pit or “stone” that contains 1-2 seeds.
Because olives are high in sodium (from the preservation process) and calories, they are best eaten in moderation and are best in conjunction with other foods. Despite that fact, they contain beneficial nutrients such as healthy fats and phenolic compounds, making them a natural antioxidant. They are a good source of calcium, vitamins C, A, K, and E.
Hippocrates, known as the Father of medicine called olive oil the “great therapeutic.” They were used in a soup in ancient China as a sore throat tonic. For the full medicinal benefits of olives, check out this site.