Food in focus: Why Mediterraneans love olives

Food2 min read

There’s much more to olives than their robust and diverse flavours – find out what makes them a Mediterranean favourite.

Olive oil isn’t the only superstar in the Mediterranean diet – whole olives also boast a starring role in a food culture that’s well known for contributing to a healthier lifestyle, lower obesity rates and longer life spans than other developed countries.

Discover the special properties that make olives a top pick for any table.

food in focus SI

They’re bursting with nutrition

Olives may be small, but they pack a big punch when it comes to nutrition. As well as containing vitamins A and E, olives are a source of fibre and monosaturated fat, which is great for reducing LDL cholesterol levels. What’s more, olives are rich in polyphenol antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

They’ve got a great shelf life

Another excellent thing about olives is the fact that they have a long shelf life. High-quality, jarred olives and fresh olives in brine or oil will stay good for a long time if they’re kept in the fridge or a cool dark place. Stock up on a selection and look forward to sprucing up pastas, salads and tapas dishes for months to come.

They’re fabulously versatile

Brilliant in a huge range of hot and cold dishes, olives are incredibly versatile. Serve them with bread and cheese for the perfect appetiser or incorporate them in a massive range of dishes, from risottos to soups and stews. You can even bake olives into bread or turn them into a spread or dip.

They come in many varieties

Not only are olives wonderfully adaptable when it comes to cooking, there is also a huge range of varieties. Black, green, whole, pitted, stuffed with pimento, anchovy or garlic, packed in flavoured oils or brine – the choice is endless. They can vary widely from region to region too – from strong and earthy to tart, fruity flavours – so there’s something to suit all tastes.

They’re perfect for sharing

While olives are delicious as an ingredient, they’re also very tasty on their own and they make an ideal addition to antipasto and snack platters. Whether it’s during a party or simply a pre-dinner nibble, pop a big bowl of olives on the table and watch family and friends dig in.

Ways to eat olives

Ready to enjoy olives as part of a healthy and varied diet? Try out a few yummy olive-friendly recipes, such as a delicious warmed peperilli and grilled vegetable anitpasto or a marvellous Mediterranean Puy lentil salad, and you’ll see just how perfectly olives can complement a whole range of flavours.

Or make them the focus of all attention by simply serving a variety of olives alongside hummus and fresh vegetable sticks – a wonderfully refreshing snack for warm days.

Start experimenting and see how quickly you’ll grow to love olives too!

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