The Benefits and Beauty of Kalamata Olives

Kalamata olives are a great source of heart healthy monounsaturated fat, among other benefits. This Greek olive also has a wonderful flavor and texture and is used commonly in traditional Greek cooking.

From the Tree to Your Plate

Over 2 million tons of olives are produced in Greece each year, the Kalamata being just one of them. These olives are actually called after their namesake city in the Peloponnese, southern Greece. Their beautiful dark aubergine fruit creates a picturesque scene amongst leafy trees and seaside mountains.

Olives are a fruit, classed botanically as a drupe alongside peaches and plums. The stone commonly kept in the this olive contains two seeds.

Kalamata olives are so delicious, but they actually do not start out that way.

In fact, fresh olives are quite bitter due to the oleuropein, a bitter carbohydrate they contain. To get this out, olives have to be washed with products like lye or soaked in food grade sodium hydroxide.

Once harvested in early winter, the olives are preserved in wine, vinegar or olive oil. A slit is usually cut in the olive to help soak up the brine and give it that strong taste.

The olives from this city are thought to be one of the best due to both their color and meatiness. Sold worldwide in jars or containers they are excellent as a table olive or in dishes. They give homemade pizza an extra kick.

Bountiful Health Benefits

The Kalamata olive not only looks beautiful, it's also very healthy. They're mainly used in olive oil which is commonly known as a very healthy oil.

Some people shy away from olives due to their high fat content but they're actually very good for you. Just like avocadoes the contain monounsaturated fat, touted as heart healthy.

There is so much goodness contained in one little olive. The alpha-linolenic acid in olives helps to reduce the risk of cancers, hypertension and auto immune diseases. It also works as a blood thinner and has been known to help prevent gallstones.

Olives are also teeming with antioxidants which fight free radicals in the body, helping to reduce the risk of disease.

But that's not all. These lovely little fruits are also a good source of vitamins E and A, calcium, copper, iron and magnesium-all beneficial to bones, metabolism and skin. A source of dietary fiber, they're very good for digestion as well.

Can not Get Enough, Try Olives a New Way

If you're tired of eating olives plain or on salads, try making a spread out of them. Make this easy recipe for olive tapenade at home and spread it on sandwiches, crackers, or even use a thin layer on pizza.

Olive Tapenade Recipe:

Coarsely chop 20 pitted Kalamata olives. In a bowl or food processor add a tablespoon of rinsed, drained and chopped capers, a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and two teaspoons of olive oil. Add some fresh cracked pepper and anchovy paste if that is to your liking. Olive tapenade will last for about two weeks in the refrigerator, but do not worry it will not last that long.

Here's to the olive: a wonderful fruit that contains so much goodness you should never feel guilt over having too many. Top them on pizza, add to your homemade pasta dishes or even pop a couple in your martini. You can never go wrong with Kalamata olives.