How many olives a day do you need to be healthy?

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay

The most common question buyers ask is what is the difference between these products? Why do such similar olives and olives have different names and how do they really differ?

In a nutshell – the way of processing. And so it’s the same thing.

The olive tree is capable of producing over 100 kilograms of fruit in one season. Depending on the timing of ripening, these fruits look different – from solid green to shriveled purple.

“The olives are uniform in color with tints ranging from green to dark green. The olives are the same color, from dark purple to black. “


  • olives are always green unripe fruits;
  • olives can be either unripe or ripe, but in any case, they undergo additional oxygen treatment, as a result of which they change their color to bright black.

There is no point in dividing olives and olives into less or more healthy ones: their composition is always plus or minus the same and varies depending on the varieties of trees, the soil on which they grow, and the methods of fruit processing. It is believed that olives have a little more iron (due to fermentation), and olives have more salt (due to canning methods). So the question of choosing between olives and olives becomes, rather, a matter of taste and love for salty / light-salted.

By the way, another slippery question regarding olive fruits: what are they? Is it a berry or a fruit? From the point of view of botany, olives should be classified as drupes. This is how it will competently call a fruit that has a seed and a hard shell (it can be either a berry or something that is called fruit in everyday life). It may seem funny to us, but in the English-speaking environment, olives are also often considered vegetables.

What are olives: complete classification
All the fruits of the olive tree coming to our table can be differentiated by other parameters:

  • ripeness,
  • cooking method,
  • the size,
  • integrity,
  • grade.

Ripeness classification
Outside the CIS countries, olives are usually divided into ripe (dark) and unripe (green). There is also a third type – fruits that are half-ripe. As a rule, they are white-pink in color. Overripe olives turn bright purple, like ripe grapes. In nature, olives are never truly black. The black color is only the result of processing.

Classification by cooking method
Olives are rarely eaten fresh as they are bitter. Instead, they are soaked and fermented in a special way. This process removes bitter compounds such as oleuropein.

The lowest levels of bitter compounds are found in ripe dark olives, but even they are not very tasty unprocessed. For the sake of fairness, it should be noted that some varieties do not need “revision” and can be eaten after ripening.
The processing of olives can take anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the method used (often based on local traditions), which affects the taste, color, and texture of the fruit.

In general, two main components for fermentation can be distinguished – alkali and saline solution. The first one works faster (several days), the second slower (several months). In order to obtain the bright black color, characteristic of the fruits, which we call olives, the brine is saturated with oxygen, which leads to the oxidation process.

Nobody paints olives with special dyes, it would be unjustifiably expensive. Oxygen does all the dyeing work.

Size classification
All over the world, the size of olives is traditionally estimated by their number in one kilogram. Names in different countries may differ, but in general today there are about fifteen gradations:

Name/Number of olives in kilogram
Atlas -71-90
Mammouth -101-110
Super Colossal -111-120
Colossal -121-140
Giants -141-160
Extra Jumbo -161-180
Jumbo -181-200
Extra Large -201-230
Large -231-260
Superior -261-290
Brilliant -291-320
Fine -321-350
Bullets A -351-380
Bullets B -381-420

Simplistically, olives are divided into 4 categories:

  • giant (from 70 to 110 fruits per 1 kg),
  • large (from 111 to 160),
  • medium (from 161 to 260),
  • small (from 261 to 420).

Integrity classification
It is customary to distinguish the following types of ready-to-eat olives:

  • whole with a bone,
  • boneless,
  • broken or crushed,
  • cut,
  • stuffed.

Olives are also classified by type. But you still won’t remember the several hundred varieties that exist in nature, so try, look for your favorite olives and never change them.

Why are olives so good?
Olives are one of the staples of the Mediterranean diet. They are credited with many beneficial qualities that have a positive effect on our health. We suggest that you familiarize yourself with some of the proven properties of these small, but, no doubt, very valuable fruits.

Bone health
Scientists once noticed that the level of osteoporosis in the Mediterranean countries is lower than in the rest of Europe, which led them to think about the impact of the consumption of olives. Indeed, research has shown that some of the plant compounds found in olives and olive oil help prevent bone loss.

Heart and vascular health
We all know that high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure can lead to heart disease. Olives come to the rescue here too: oleic acid, which is found in large quantities in them, allows you to regulate cholesterol levels and protect “bad” cholesterol from oxidation. This has been proven by Brazilian and Israeli scientists. And Pakistani and Italian researchers note that olives and olive oil can lower blood pressure.

Cancer prevention
Also in the Mediterranean region, the incidence of cancer is much lower than in other countries. According to scientists, this may be due to the consumption of olives and olive oil, which are high in antioxidants and oleic acid. Research shows that these compounds disrupt the life cycle of cancer cells.

Composition of olives
Olives can have different calories and nutritional values. On average, 100 g of olives contain:

  • proteins – 0.8-1 g,
  • fats – 11-15 g,
  • carbohydrates – 4-6 g,
  • calories – 115.

At the same time, 74% of all fats are oleic acid, and most of the carbohydrates are fiber. Olives are a good source of vitamins and minerals, some of which appear during processing. Among them:

  • vitamins A, C, E, and K,
  • iron (especially in black olives),
  • copper,
  • potassium,
  • calcium,
  • sodium (especially in canned food with salted brine).

They are also rich in antioxidants, including:

  • oleuropein (especially in unripe olives),
  • hydroxytyrosol,
  • tyrosol (especially in olive oil),
  • oleanolic acid,
  • quercetin.

Olives consumption rate
How many olives per day should you eat to fully experience all their benefits? Unfortunately, we were unable to find scientific studies on this topic, and the recommendations of nutritionists vary: some advise eating 15–20 fruits a day, others – no more than 5.

The main thing to take into account for people who are not allergic to olives is the restriction on salt intake. It is the increased amount of sodium that should be alarming in the first place. Because of the salt, olives are not recommended to be introduced into the diet of babies under three years old, but older children also need to be given fruits with caution and at first, observe the reaction. The same reason lies behind the ban on olives for people with exacerbations of gastrointestinal and kidney diseases.

But olive oil definitely does not have such drawbacks: if for some reason you are not ready to supplement your menu with olive fruits, it is quite possible to replace them with this healthy product. The main thing to remember is that oil, unlike olives, is very high in calories – 884 kcal per 100 g. It contains the same antioxidants and vitamins, rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, oleic acid (omega-9). It is believed that olive oil may be an ideal dietary supplement for people with gastrointestinal disorders, diabetics, hypertensive patients, and those who need additional support for the nervous system.

Olives: questions and answers 

Are canned olives good for you?
Yes, canned olives can be just as healthy as vacuum-packed olives, glass, or plastic boxes, but only if they are free of harmful ingredients. But the taste is another matter. It is important to understand that in “cans” and doy-packs, not the most selective fruits are often packed, because, alas, they cannot be seen behind their opaque packaging, which means that it is impossible to evaluate in advance.

What are the most delicious and healthy olives?
Experience shows that the most delicious olives are sold in glass containers or vacuum packaging. It is noteworthy that their size, color, and condition can be clearly seen.

Olives with minimum salt content, as well as without the addition of preservatives, stabilizers, and other ingredients with the “E” symbol will be healthier. Fruits in oil seem more natural than those in brine. Pitted olives often retain more nutrients than hollow olives.

Where are the olives added?
Olives themselves are a great snack. They go well with wines (including sparkling), martinis, rum, vermouth, various beers, and alcoholic cocktails.

When it comes to food, olives are ideal with cheese, meat, fish, eggs, fresh vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers), herbs (arugula, basil, different types of salad), and fresh bread. In many countries, it is customary to add olives to marinades, stews, soups, and sauces.

Where are olives grown?
Olive trees are found in many regions of the Mediterranean, as well as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and America. But not so many countries are considered to be real champions in olive production. The three leaders include Spain (1st place, 6.5 million tons per year), Greece (2nd place, 2.4 million tons), and Italy (3rd place, 2 million tons). Turkey (1.7 million tons) and Morocco (1.4 million tons) are also nearby in this hit parade. In addition, olives are grown in Tunisia, China, Syria, Portugal, Algeria, India, Iraq, Iran, and Java. Among the countries of the former USSR, olive producers are Turkmenistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Abkhazia. A very small crop is harvested in Russia – on the Black Sea coast.

What are olive trees?
Olive trees are classified as evergreen. Usually, they are rather short and squat, rarely higher than 15 meters (usually 8-10), have picturesquely twisted strong trunk and elastic branches with long silvery-green leaves. There are hundreds of different types of olive trees in the world and, accordingly, hundreds of different varieties of olives, which differ in taste, color, and size.

For the first time, the tree begins to bloom in the fourth year after planting and gives the first fruits no earlier than 10-15 years. The older it is, the more olives grow on its branches.

The olive tree is almost immortal. If taken care of, it can live for hundreds of years. In many countries, there are old olives, which, according to local residents, were planted before our era. It is difficult to say if this is really so or just beautiful legends because all these trees are not included in the list of plants with a confirmed age. Nevertheless, scientists fully admit the likelihood of the existence of ancient olives: such trees are noted in Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Montenegro. The oldest of them is the Lebanese “Sisters” – a grove of sixteen trees in the city of Bceale. According to local lore, the Sisters are about 6,000 years old.

The average lifespan of an olive tree today is between 300 and 600 years.

Olympic Flame Oil and Other Olive Facts

  1. Fossil evidence indicates that the first olive tree appeared 20–40 million years ago in a region corresponding to modern Italy and the eastern Mediterranean basin.
  2. People started growing olive trees 7000 years ago in the Mediterranean regions.
  3. The collection of olives begins in early autumn and can last until winter.
  4. About 90% of all harvested olives are converted to olive oil. And only about 10% are used as food.
  5. The production of one liter of olive oil requires approximately 5–6 kilograms of olives.
  6. Hippocrates, the Greek physician and “father of medicine”, called olive oil “a great remedy.”
  7. In ancient Rome, women applied olive oil to their skin and hair after bathing for sun protection.
  8. But Greek women invented the first eyeshadow, which was created by mixing ground charcoal with olive oil.
  9. According to the biblical story (Genesis 8:11), after the flood, Noah released a dove to find land, and it returned with an olive branch in its beak.
  10. Later, the olive branch became a symbol of peace: people used it to declare a truce, giving it to their enemies.
  11. Olive branches were also used for the coronation of Olympic champions. This tradition was revived in Athens in 2004.
  12. Olive oil served as fuel for sacred lamps in Greek temples and was the “eternal flame” of the original Olympic Games.

6 thoughts on “How many olives a day do you need to be healthy?”

  1. Pingback: How many olives a day do you need to be healthy? – Jeanne Foguth's Blog

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: