Olives are one of the world’s most popular foods, and they’re also one of its oldest cultivated crops. Here’s a rundown of some fascinating information and trivia about olives, including their history, origin, and nutritional advantages!
- The olive, like the palm and teak, is a flowering plant. It has a long history as an important culinary and industrial product. The specific name for the olive is “olea europaea,” which means “European olive.”
- Despite popular belief, the olive is not a vegetable, but rather a fruit.
- The olive tree and its fruit gave the plant family its name, which includes species such as lilacs, jasmine, and the real ash tree (Fraxinus).
- The word is derived from the Latin “oliva,” which was a loan from the Greek “elaios” (elaia), which means olive fruit and olive tree.
- The olive tree has ancient roots that date back to 20-40 million years ago, when it appeared in the Oligocene region of Italy and the eastern Mediterranean Basin.
- The olive, on the other hand, was first cultivated 7,000 years ago in the Mediterranean regions.
- On the Greek island of Santorini, fossilized leaves of Olea were discovered.
- Olives have been cultivated commercially on Crete since 3000 BC, according to research. They may have been a key source of wealth for the Minoan civilization.
- The ancient Greeks used olive oil to massage their bodies and hair as a sign of good health and hygiene.
- In ancient Greece, olive oil was used to anoint kings and athletes.
- It was burned in the holy lamps of temples, and it was the “everlasting flame” of the original Olympic games. It was adorned with laurel leaves to adorn winners of these competitions.
- The ancient Greek practice of gathering in water was resurrected during the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.
- With the gift of the olive, Athena obtained the patronage of Athens from Poseidon in an Athenian legend.
- Theophrastus (fourth century BC), the father of botany, stated that Athena’s very olive tree still grew on the Acropolis. The tree was still visible there in the second century AD. olive tree produces small, egg-shaped fruit.
- The olive tree outside the city center of Athens, known as “Plato’s Olive Tree,” is said to be a descendant of the grove where Plato’s Academy was built, making it 2,400 years old.
- The tree had a huge trunk with some branches still sprouting in 1975, when a bus ran it over.
- Olives are not native to the Americas. Spanish conquistadors carried the olive to the New World. Olives are still grown in Peru and Chile today.
- Antonio de Rivera of Peru grew the first seedlings in Lima in 1560, and olive tree planting soon spread along the dry Pacific coast’s valleys where the climate was similar to that of the Mediterranean.
- In 1769, Mexican Spanish missionaries planted the tree in California. In 1769, it was initially cultivated at Mission San Diego de Alcalá.
- Other missions followed suit, with the same success. However, in 1838, only two olive groves were discovered in California during an inspection.
- The cultivation of olive oil began to be a highly successful commercial business in the 1860s.
- Several olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem are said to date back to the day Jesus supposedly walked there.
- The olive tree can grow to be 26 to 49 inches tall.
- The term “donkey olive” refers to the most common variety of olive tree, while the term “bullet” denotes the tiniest.
- The olive tree blooms after four years. One of oldest olive trees in the world is on the island of Crete.
- After 15 years, the first crop is anticipated!
- The color of the fruit varies with its ripeness. Green, unripe fruit is ripe fruit is dark purple or black.
- The olive tree is evergreen, meaning it never dies. They may live up to 2000 years. Olive trees are now planted on over 800 million hectares of land worldwide.
- The average life of an olive tree is between 300 and 600 years, depending on the variety.
- On the Greek island of Crete, there is an ancient olive tree that is 4,000 years old and still producing olives.
- Of course, you can’t eat olives straight from the tree. After being harvested, olives must be brined before they can be consumed.
- Approximately 90% of all olives are processed into olive oil, while only 10% are consumed as table olives.
- The many types of table olives are determined on personal preferences and traditions. The most significant commercial examples are: Spanish or Sevilian Type, Sicilian or Greek Type, Picholine or straight-brined type, Water-cured Type, Salt-cured Type, California or “artificial” ripening type.
- The harvest of ‘Black Olives’ begins in the fall and may continue until the following winter.
- Green olives are harvested in the Northern Hemisphere from the end of September to about the middle of November. The ripe ones are collected in October through November, while the green olives are gathered from November to January or February. In the southern countries of Europe, harvesting is done for many weeks during the winter, although the timing varies by country and cultivar.
- In Mediterranean cuisine, the olive is one of the “trinity” or “triad” of fundamental ingredients. The other two are wheat for bread, pasta, and couscous, and the grape for wine.
- Olives are a good source of oils, minerals, and vitamins A, E, K, and B.
- Olives are high in fat, which accounts for around 80 percent of their calories. The type of fat they contain is a beneficial fat. Oleic acid is one of the major fats found in olives. Oleic acid has been linked to a decreased risk of several types of cancer and heart disease in studies.
- Oleic acid, a component in olives, improves the appearance of wrinkles by 20%. Vitamin E is also present in olives, an excellent antioxidant for skin health.
- 2.25 million liters of olive oil are consumed each year by people all over the world. When compared to other vegetable oils, extra virgin olive oil is considerably healthier and has a more delicate flavor profile.
- For every liter of olive oil, it takes approximately 7 liters of olives.
- The olive branch is a symbol of peace and victory. The olive branch appears on the flags of Cyprus, Eritrea, and the United Nations.
Are Olives Good for You?
Although many of the health benefits attributed to olives and olive oil are anecdotal, they have a long history of being linked to good health. There is now a considerable amount of scientific research to back up these claims.
Olive tree originates from the coast of Mediterranean sea and in the Mediterranean diet, olive oil, which is made by crushing olive fruits and then separating the olive oil from the pulp, has a significant role, compare to regular vegetable oils.
Olives are cholesterol-free and high in dietary fiber, which is essential for healthy gut function. They’re also high in iron and copper.
Following this diet has been shown in studies to help people live longer. One research Trusted Source of almost 26,000 women discovered that the Mediterranean diet could reduce the chance of heart disease by up to 28% when compared to a control diet.
A typical Mediterranean diet consists of whole grains, fruits, veggies, legumes, and nuts. Fish and lean meat are eaten in moderation by people on the diet, but red and processed meats are restricted to 2–3 servings per month.
Trans fatty acids and saturated fats, which are present in butter and margarine, are replaced with healthful fats like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated lipids found in olives and olive oil.
Olives are high in oleate, a monounsaturated fatty acid. In comparison with carbohydrates, eating more monosaturated fat was found to lower the risk of premature death caused by illness.
According to the American Heart Foundation, monounsaturated fats may help reduce risk of heart disease when eaten in moderation.
Olive oil is high in two beneficial antioxidants called polyphenols, which can assist with heart and blood vessel diseases.
Some people think that these antioxidants may help prevent the development of neurodegenerative diseases and even cancer. However, further research is required to verify these assertions.
It’s worth noting that olives are commonly preserved in brine, which is high in salt. Excess salt levels in the body can cause high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes over time, therefore people should eat olives in moderation.