McEvoy Ranch, an olive producer in Marin County, California, has been maintaining olive orchards since the 1990s. Touted through education and on-site tastings are the health benefits of olives and olive oil, as well as some unknown facts, such as that olives are a fruit — even though they are treated as a vegetable in recipes.

McEvoy Ranch further informed that “even though they contain fat, olives can be an ideal snack in a calorie-controlled diet. A serving of 10 average-sized black olives contains only 59 calories. That’s fewer calories than a banana.” in May cited a plethora of other reasons olives are “key components” of a Mediterranean diet; beneficial compounds include:

• Vitamin E, an antioxidant.
• Iron, important for red blood cells to transport oxygen.
• Copper: “This essential mineral is often lacking in the typical Western diet. Copper deficiency may increase your risk of heart disease.”  
• Calcium, essential for bone, muscle and nerve function.
• Hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol, which are antioxidants.
• Quercetin, a nutrient that may help lower blood pressure.

Plus, pointed out, olives’ nutritional properties may decrease inflammation and improve heart health due to the presence of oleic acid.

“Although some types of fat have a bad reputation for causing health problems such as heart disease, the unsaturated fats found in olives may actually reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems and other serious illnesses,” noted McEvoy Ranch.

Studies are currently underway to determine whether olives can help reduce the risk of chronic illness and cancers as well as offer the same digestive health benefits as probiotics.

Besides just eating them from a jar, olives can be added to pizza, homemade bread dough, salads, tapenades, pasta recipes and chicken, fish, beef and pork dishes, suggested Martha Stewart’s “11 Delicious Ways to Cook with Olives.”