Health benefits of olives

September 16, 2014, by Katie Wilhelmi RD, LD , The Journal

I love olives. They are one of my favorite foods. Ironically, my 2-year-old also loves them. My husband claims it’s because I ate way more than my share when I was pregnant. Whatever the reason might be, I’m glad he likes them too.

Olives are a main ingredient on any pizzas we make at our house. They are common on holiday tables and at parties on traditional relish trays. But olives are also an ideal ingredient to add flavor and variety to foods all year long.

Olives come in many different shapes, colors, sizes and flavors. The difference between black and green olives is simply the ripeness. Green olives are unripe and black olives are fully ripe. Olives, both ripe and unripe, are cured or pickled before eating. The reason for this is that fresh olives are too bitter to eat because they contain oleuropein. Oleuropein is full of antioxidants that actually make the olives good for us.

Olive-varieties

Even though olives have a high fat content – 15 to 30 percent – the majority of fat is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Olives are also considered a good source of vitamin E and contain the natural antioxidants found in oleuropein. Four or five medium to large ripe olives have only 25 calories and 2 grams of fat. Because of the curing process, olives do contain sodium. Rinsing olives first before eating will help reduce some of the sodium.

If you are looking for new ways to try serving olives one way is to make a tapenade. Tapenades are an olive puree or paste blended with seasonings and herbs. All you need is a food processor, blender or knife with a cutting board to prepare a basic tapenade. Tapenades are the perfect building blocks to use with baguettes, crackers or pita chips for holiday parties. For another fun appetizer idea using olives try the stuffed olive recipe below.

Gouda-Stuffed Olives (Serves 24).

All you need

1 oz Gouda cheese | 1 (6-oz) can large black ripe pitted olives, drained | 3 oz thinly sliced prosciutto or deli ham

All you do

1. Cut Gouda cheese into small (1/4-inch) pieces; stuff one piece into each olive.

2. Cut prosciutto into 3-by–inch strips; fold each strip lengthwise once to form 3-by–inch strips.

3. Wrap a strip of prosciutto around each olive; secure with a toothpick.

4. Cover and chill up to 24 hours before serving.

Nutrition per serving: Calories 20, Total fat 1.5 g, Sodium 150 mg, Total carbohydrate 0 g

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Katie Wilhelmi is a registered dietitian at the New Ulm Hy-Vee.

(Source: http://www.nujournal.com)

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