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Guide to Vegatables

About the Nutrients in Olives

Olives, About the Nutrients

Green olives are olives that were picked before they are ripened. Black olives were picked ripe and dipped in an iron solution to stabilize their color. After they are picked, green lives and black olives are soaked in a milk solution of sodium hydroxide and then washed thoroughly in water to remove oleuropein, a naturally bitter carbohydrate.

Then green olives may be allowed to ferment before they are packed in a brine solution. Black olives are not allowed to ferment before packaging, which is why they taste milder than most green olives. Green olives that do not ferment before packing taste as mild as black olives.

Greek and Italian olives are black olives that taste sharp because they have not been soaked to remove their oleuropein. They are salt-cured and sold in bulk, covered with olive oil that protects them from oxygen and helps preserve them. Olives are a high fiber, high fat food that derive 69 to 78 percent of their calories from olive oil, a predominantly unsaturated fat.

A serving of five olives, green or black, weighing 19 to 22 g, has 2 g fat. A serving of ripe olives has 1 g dietary fiber while green olives has less than 1 g. Those that are on low-fat and low-sodium diet should exclude or avoid this food.

When buying olives, look for tightly sealed bottles or cans. Small olives are less woody than large ones. Green olives have a more astringent taste than black olives. Greek olives, available only in bulk, have a sharp spicy taste. Pitted olives are the best buy if you want to slice the olives into a salad, otherwise olives with pits are less-expensive and a better buy.

Always store unopened cans or jars of lives on a cool, dry shelf. Once you've opened a can of olives, take the olives out of the can and refrigerate them in a clean glass container. In order to avoid having the olives taste too salty, bathe them in olive oil before using.

Olives are also processed for its oil. They are pressed to produce olive oil, one of the few vegetable oils with a distinctive flavor and aroma. Olive oils are graded according to the pressing from which they come and the amount of free oleic acid they contain. The presence of free oleic acid means that the oil's molecules have begun to break down. Virgin olive oil is oil from the first pressing of the olives. Pure olive oil is a mixture of oils from the first and second pressings. Virgin olive oil may contain as much as 4 percent free oleic acid. Fine virgin olive oil may contain 3 percent free oleic acid, superfine virgin olive oil 1.5 percent, and extra virgin olive oil 1 percent.

Olive oil is a more concentrated source of alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) than olives. Because it is high in unsaturated fatty acids, whole carbon atoms have double bonds than can make room for more oxygen atoms, olive oil oxidizes and turns rancid fairly quickly if exposed to heat or light. To protect the oil, store it in a cool and dark cabinet.

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