What are Kalamata Olives?
Kalamata olives or greek olives are a type of black olive which is mainly cultivated in the Mediterranean region. These dark purple olives are considered as fruit and are typically jarred or canned in olive oil. Like most other olives, they have a briny and salty flavor with a touch of meaty consistency. There are many health benefits of kalamata olives due to the presence of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and monounsaturated fats ( healthy fat) and can stay fresh for a long time when kept at room temperature.
Nutrition In Kalamata Olives
Kalamata olives are loaded with essential nutrients that play an important role in keeping us healthy. Munching 10 kalamata olives provide around 40 calories of energy which makes it an efficient fruit to be consumed during the weight loss journey. Although kalamata olives are low in protein in carbohydrates, they rich in terms of monounsaturated fat which is considered as healthy fat and is well known for improving our cardiovascular health.
As per “Medicinal Research Reviews”, the phenolic compounds present in the kalamata olives are strong antioxidants that protect us from the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals in the body and provides numerous benefits such as reduced cancer risk, improved cardiovascular health, better neural health and so on.
Additionally, kalamata olives also contain a good amount of calcium, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C that provides a number of benefits to us. These olives also contain dietary fibers which play an important role in maintaining our digestive health.
Kalamata Olives Vs Black Olives
Everything that glitters is not gold, and in the same way, all black olives are not kalamata olives. Some common differences between these two types of olives are as follows:-
- Taste:-In general olives have a salty and briny taste, but, kalamata olives tend to bit saltier in comparison to other olives.
- Size:- In comparison to the black olives, kalamata olives tend to have a rich and briny taste, and are generally bigger in size.
- Sodium Level- Kalamata olives have a higher level of sodium content in comparison to the black olives, and in this gives them a saltier taste.
- Color Variation- Kalamata olives are considered as a type of black olives, but actually, they are not completely black and have a dark purple touch.
Kalamata Olive Curing Processes
The curing process of the kalamata olives is a technique through which kalamata olives are made suitable for eating. They can’t be eaten away right away because of their extreme bitter taste. When they get processed or cured, then they acquire a rich taste.
Some major techniques used for curing kalamata olives are as follows:-
(1) Curing in Water
One of the simplest methods of curing kalamata olives is to soak them completely under water for a minimum of six weeks.
This removes the oleuropein responsible for the bitterness in the kalamata olives.
This curing method removes bitterness to a large extent, but it still might retain some bitter edge to it.
If you are comfortable with this little bitterness then you will love the kalamata olives cured in water.
(2) Curing in Brine
Another method of processing kalamata olives is to cure them in brine.
This method is much more effective than the water as it removes a higher amount of oleuropein out of the kalamata olives.
However, this is a lengthy process and takes several months in comparison to curing in water which only takes a couple of weeks.
When the kalamata olives are cured in brine then they experience dramatic flavor transformation, and their nutrient profile also altered to a significant extent.
Every producer has its own preference for choosing the brine solution, but the most commonly used brine for the kalamata olives are red wine or red wine vinegar
(3) Curing in Lye
In this curing process, kalamata olives or the greek olives are immersed in lye, which is basically a metal hydroxide traditionally obtained by leaching ashes(source)
This involves repeated applications of lye so that the curing process gets down to the center of the olives.
Sometimes olives are oxygen treated to turn them black.
Generally, the color of the olives depends on how they were ripe when they were picked, but many times curing process of the olives also influence of the color of the olives to a significant extent, and for this reason, many people believe that black olives are dyed.
There is no need to worry about the same as the dying process is used only for the curing process, but in the fully processed kalamata olives there’s no dye and they are safe to be consumed.
(4) Dry Curing For Kalamata Olives
In this curing process, olives are placed on top of a container which earlier got sprinkled with salt.
Then, salt is also sprinkled on the olives.
A further layer of olives and salt keeps on adding until the container is full.
In this method, when the olives get cured, they start leaking out their juices and take on wrinkled appearance.
The juice that leaks out of the olives get mixed with the salt and takes on pasty consistency.
In order for the curing process to stay effective, salt needs to be refreshed routinely for the entire duration of the curing process, which can take up to several weeks.
When the dry curing is completed, then the kalamata olives are usually placed in the oil and is then sent to the market in this typical oil packaging.
History of Kalamata Olives
The Peloponnese peninsula region in southern Greece is the only region where kalamata olives are found and have played a great part in the diet of greeks for thousands of years. Kalamata olives have large leaves in comparison to other olives, and this allows them to absorb more sunshine.
This tasty cherry-sized fruit is being used by greeks for thousands of years not only for its deliciousness but also because of the nutritional benefits provided by it.
Although they are high in sodium, they are considered as one of the healthiest food on earth because of the presence of natural antioxidants and healthy fats in them, and thus gives us some amazing reasons to make them a part of our food life.
Kalamata olives are also known as the Greek olives or Greek black olives, but in reality, they are deep purple in color.
How To Add Kalamata Olives To Your Diet
Kalamata olives are one of the healthiest snacks that we can add to our diet, and can enjoy it anytime during the day. Some of the ways you can make kalamata olives a part of your diet are:-
- Add them to your salad- This is by far the simplest method of including kalamata olives to your diet. All you have to do is take some kalamata olives and add them to your salad plate making that salad plate much more healthy and nutritious.
- As a Pizza Topping- You can also add kalamata olives as pizza toppings.
- In Homemade Red Sauce- If you believe in DIY, and prefer making the red sauce at home, then kalamata olives can become an important ingredient of the same.
- Adding them to cheese platter- Last but not the least, kalamata olives can also be paired with cheese, crackers and other small things.
Health Benefits of Kalamata Olives
(1) Provides Antioxidantal Benefits
One of the prime reasons to consume kalamata olives is because of their strong antioxidantal compounds.
They are a good source of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin A, and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols, etc. in them.
The Greek kalamata olives contain about (250 mg-760 mg)/kg of hydroxytyrosol, which is a polyphenol that integrates well into the human body. In terms of antioxidantal potential, kalamata olives are ten times more powerful than green tea, and just slightly below the gallic acid.
These antioxidants and the other relevant compounds present in the kalamata olives combats with the free radicals in our body, stabilizes them and thus prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells.
By doing so, it minimizes the risk of various cancers, and also provides other benefits such as improved cardiovascular health, prevents damage to vital organs such as liver and kidneys, reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
(2) Promotes Weight Loss
Kalamata olives provide antioxidant enzymes to the adipose tissues, preventing oxidative damage or inflammation. With the adipose tissue and lipid breakdown in check, there wouldn’t be unnecessary weight gain and hedonic hunger pangs.
If you are on a weight loss journey and trying to get rid of some extra pounds from your body, then kalamata olives can help you a lot in this regard.
This kalamata olives benefit is mainly because of its low caloric value. Eating ten small sized kalamata olives only provides 40 calories, which means it doesn’t add much to your calorie intake.
The dietary fibers present in the kalamata olives provide a feeling of fuller to our stomach, and thus prevents us from overeating which is a major reason for the obesity.
Additionally, the phytochemicals such as polyphenols and phytonutrients present in the kalamata olives help in preventing the accumulation of lipids and unwanted fats in our body and thus helps with the weight loss.
It helps in reducing the level of bad LDL cholesterol and increases the level of good HDL cholesterol.
Kalamata olives are also a good source of fat, but before you panic let me tell you that it’s the monounsaturated fats which are considered as a healthy fat as it prevents our arteries from getting clogged by plaque and fat deposits and thus minimizes the risk of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular problems.
Kalamata olives also provide antioxidantal enzymes to the adipose tissues ( fat) and thus prevents the oxidative damage and inflammation. It helps with the lipid breakdown and prevents unnecessary weight gain.
(3) Prevent Neurodegenerative Disorders
Consuming kalamata olives on a regular and moderate basis is good for our brain and improves our neurological health.
This benefit of kalamata olives is primarily because of the antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and other antioxidantal compounds such as phytonutrients and polyphenols in them.
These compounds fight with the free radicals in our body, stabilizes them and prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our brain cells aka neurons, and thus reduces the risk of various neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, amnesia, and dementia, etc.
Free radicals are the unstabilized ions that get formed in our body during the oxidation process. As these are unstabilized, so they steal electrons from the neighboring molecules and while doing so it causes oxidative damage to them.
Additionally, the anti-hypercholesterolemic and lipolytic activity of the kalamata olives prevents lipid peroxidation in the body, and thus improves neurological health.
(4) Manages Cholesterol Level
Regular and moderate intake of kalamata olives is found to be very beneficial for keeping our cholesterol level under control, which in turn improves our cardiovascular health.
It helps in reducing the level of bad LDL cholesterol and increases the level of good HDL cholesterol.
The dietary fibers in the kalamata olives also plays a significant role in managing cholesterol level as they prevent our arteries from being clogged up by plaque and fat deposits, and thus minimizes the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition which may otherwise give rise to cardiovascular problems such as heart attack, heart stroke, irregular heartbeat and so on.
In addition to this, the antioxidantal compounds such as polyphenols and phytonutrients, etc. in the kalamata olives also plays a significant role in managing our cholesterol level.
(5) Improves Cardiovascular Health
Kalamata olives are great for our heart and play an effective role in improving our cardiovascular health.
This advantage of kalamata olives is mainly because of the antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A and other antioxidantal compounds like polyphenols and phytonutrients, etc. in them.
These antioxidants and the relevant compounds present in the kalamata olives protect our cardiovascular system from the oxidative stress caused by the free radicals in our body, and thus minimizes the risk of various cardiovascular issues such as heart attack, heart stroke, irregular heartbeat and so on.
By protecting our cells from the oxidative stress caused by the free radicals, it also strengthens our circulatory system and ensures efficient blood circulation.
Kalamata olives are also a good source of sodium, which although looked up as a culprit by most of us is an essential electrolyte that maintains water balance in and around cells.
Sodium, as required by our body, is not an issue, it only becomes a problem when we get too much of it.
Sodium is also needed by our body for maintaining blood pressure and for minimizing the risk of hypotension.
Additionally, kalamata olives reduce the level of lipids in obese individuals and thus helps with obesity, which is a prime cause for the various cardiovascular problems.
(6) Improves Digestive Health
Regular and moderate intake of kalamata olives is very beneficial for our stomach and plays an important role in improving our digestive health.
This benefit of kalamata olives is mainly because of the presence of dietary fibers in them. The dietary fibers in the kalamata greek olives act as a natural laxative which means it improves bowel movement and ensures smooth elimination of stool from our system.
This not only relieves constipation but also provides relief from other gastrointestinal issues such as abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating and flatulence, etc.
Additionally, kalamata olives are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals that plays an important role in maintaining our digestive health.
(7) Good For Blood Circulation
Our circulatory system plays an important role in keeping us healthy as it provides proper nourishment to our cells and tissues, and improves the health of our vital organs like liver and kidneys, etc.
It helps in the collection of cellular waste, and thus aids our kidneys to get rid of toxins and other wastes.
The antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin A and other antioxidantal compounds such as polyphenols and phytonutrients, etc. also play a significant role in strengthening our circulatory system as it protects it from the oxidative stress caused by the free radicals.
Additionally, the iron present in the kalamata olives also plays a significant role in improving our blood circulation as it enhances the production of hemoglobin, a compound which is responsible for carrying oxygenated blood to our cells.
(8) Strengthens Our Immune System
The Immune system of our body is like a defense mechanism that protects our body from the attack of the foreign invaders like bacteria, virus, and fungi, etc. and thus minimizes the risk of diseases associated with them. It is considered as a backbone of the “Good Health”, and for this reason, it is important for us to take good care of our immune system, and kalamata olives can help in achieving the same.
This benefit of kalamata olives is mainly because of the presence of the antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and other antioxidantal compounds namely phytonutrients and polyphenols, etc. in them.
These antioxidants and the associated compounds fight with the free radicals in our body stabilizes them and prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells including the white blood cells that form the backbone of the immune system
By protecting our immune system from the oxidative damage, it strengthens it, and when our immune system is stronger, we are less likely to be affected by the disease-causing microbes like bacteria and virus, etc. and risk of cold, cough, fever and flu, etc. diminishes automatically.
Also, kalamata olives are rich in essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals that play an effective role in keeping our immune system healthy.
(9) Controls Blood Sugar Level
Consuming kalamata olives on a regular and moderate basis is very beneficial for the people suffering from diabetes, and for those who are at the risk of developing diabetes.
This advantage of kalamata olives is mainly because of its low glycemic index.
Glycemic index of a food item is a scale that ranges from 0 to 100 and determines the rate at which a particular food item will release sugar into the bloodstream.
Being low in the glycemic index means kalamata olives release sugar into the bloodstream at a slow rate, and thus helps in regulating blood sugar level.
Additionally, they are also rich in dietary fibers that slow down the rate at sugar gets absorbed by the bloodstream, and thus helps in managing diabetes.
They are also a source of vitamin A which is an essential nutrient known for improving insulin sensitivity.
(10) Provides Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Eating kalamata olives on a regular and moderate basis is very beneficial for providing relief from the pain and inflammation caused by the inflammatory problems such as gouts and arthritis etc.
This advantage of kalamata olives is primarily because of the presence of antioxidants like vitamin C in it.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects our cells and tissues from the oxidative stress caused by the free radicals, and also relieves inflammation.
(11) Provides Bone Strengthening Minerals
Another advantage of making kalamata olives a part of your lifestyle is its ability to make our bones and teeth stronger.
This benefit of kalamata olives is mainly because of the presence of essential bone-strengthening minerals like calcium and phosphorus etc. in them.
Calcium plays an important role in strengthening our bones, and also reduces the risk of osteoporosis, a condition in which our bones become very weak and fragile, and are more prone to breakage and fracture.
Not just calcium, but phosphorus also plays an important role in maintaining bone strength as it works with calcium for bone development. Around 50 percent of our bones are made up of phosphorus, and about 80 percent of the total phosphorus in our body is found in bones and teeth.
(12) Helps WIth The Detoxification
Consuming kalamata olives on a regular and moderate basis is very effective when it comes to the detoxification.
Detoxification, as the name suggests, is the process through which our body gets rid of the toxins, wastes and other impurities.
The primary organs responsible for the detoxification are liver and kidneys.
Kalamata olives aids in the detoxification process.
This merit of kalamata olives is mainly because of the antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and other antioxidantal compounds such as polyphenols and phytonutrients, etc. in them.
These antioxidantal compounds not only protects our cells and tissues from the oxidative stress caused by free radicals but also helps in the elimination of toxins.
By helping with the detoxification process, it also reduces the burden from our vital organs such as kidneys and liver, allowing them to focus on other functions they need to perform.
In addition to this, the dietary fibers in the kalamata olives also play a significant role in the detoxification.
The information contained in the post is for general purpose only and shouldn’t be considered as medical advice or as an alternative to medical advice. Although I’ve tried my best to keep the information contained in this post as accurate and updated as possible, I make no guarantee of the accurateness of the same.
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