Himalayan Olive

Organic Farm & Research Center


Dozens of health-protective nutrients have been identified in olives, and recent studies have taken a very close look at olive varieties, olive processing, and changes that take place in olive nutrients. The overall conclusion from these studies is exciting for anyone who loves olives of all varieties. Greek-style black olives, Spanish-style green olives, Kalamata-style olives, and many different methods of olive preparation provide us with valuable amounts of many different antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. While there are trade-offs that occur during olive ripening and olive curing—for example, decreased oleuropein with advanced stages of ripening yet increased amounts of anthocyanins—it's impossible to rule out any single type of olive as being unworthy of consideration as a uniquely health-supportive food, particularly in terms of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Hydroxytyrosol, an olive phytonutrient that h...

About Olives

Even though more attention has been sometimes been given to their delicious oil than their whole food delights, olives are one of the world's most widely enjoyed foods. Technically classified as fruits of the Olea europea tree (an amazing tree that typically lives for hundreds of years) we commonly think about olives not as fruit but as a zesty vegetable that can be added are harvested in September but available year round to make a zesty addition to salads, meat and poultry dishes and, of course, pizza.

Olives are too bitter to be eaten right off the tree and must be cured to reduce their intrinsic bitterness. Processing methods vary with the olive variety, region where they are cultivated, and the desired taste, texture and color. Some olives are picked unripe, while others are allowed to fully ripen on the tree. The color of an olive is not necessarily related to its state of maturity. Many olives start off green and turn black when fully ripe. However, some olives start off green and remain green when fully ripe, while others start of black and remain black. In the United States, where most olives come from California, olives are typically green in color, picked in an unripe state, lye-cured, and then exposed to air as a way of triggering oxidation and conversion to a black outer color. Water curing, brine curing, and lye curing are the most common treatment processes for olives, and each of these treatments can affect the color and composition of the olives.