What are Kalamata Olives?
Kalamata olive or greek olive is a variety of black olive cultivated in the Mediterranean region. These dark purple olives are typically jarred or canned in olive oil and have a briny and salty flavor with meaty consistency.
Kalamata olives are found in the Peloponnese peninsula region of Southern Greece and are part of the Mediterranean diet for thousands of years.
In comparison to other olives, kalamata olives have large leaves and absorb more sunshine.
This delicious cherry-sized fruit is one of the healthiest fruit that provides numerous health benefits as they contain essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, polyphenols, and dietary fibers, etc.
Nutrition In Kalamata Olives
Kalamata olives are loaded with essential nutrients that keep us healthy. Eating 10 kalamata olives provides around 40 calories of energy and other essential compounds like monosaturated fats, antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, etc. They also contain dietary fibers.
Kalamata Olives Vs Black Olives
Kalamata olives differ from black olives in the following ways.
- Taste- Black Olives have a salty and briny taste, but kalamata olives are saltier.
- Size- Fully grown kalamata olives are bigger than black olives.
- Sodium Level- Kalamata olives have more sodium in comparison to black olives.
- Color variation- Kalamata olives are confused with black olives but they are not completely black and have a dark purple touch.
Kalamata Olive Curing Processes
Kalamata olives have an extremely bitter taste and can’t be consumed right away. They are processed or cured to give them a rich taste and to make them suitable for eating.
Following are the major techniques for curing kalamata olives.
(1) Curing in Water
In this process, kalamata olives are completely soaked underwater for a minimum of six weeks to remove oleuropein that gives a bitter taste to kalamata olives. This method removes bitterness to large extent but not completely. Those who are comfortable with little bitterness might give them a try.
(2) Curing in Brine
In this curing method, kalamata olives are soaked in brine(mostly red wine or red wine vinegar) for several months to remove oleuropein from the kalamata olives.
In comparison to curing in water, this method removes a higher amount of oleuropein and reduces bitterness efficiently.
This curing method significantly alters the nutrient profile of the kalamata olives and gives them a dramatic flavor transformation.
(3) Curing in Lye
During this curing process, kalamata olives are immersed in lye ( metal hydroxide traditionally obtained by leaching ashes).
The process is repeated several times to ensure that the curing process gets down to the center of the kalamata olives.
The color of the olives largely depends on their ripening condition during the picking stage. However, the curing process can also significantly influence the color of olives.
Some people believe kalamata olives are dyed during the curing process and are unsafe to eat.
However, they are not dyed but are sometimes oxygen treated to turn them black.
There is no dye in the fully processed kalamata olives and they are safe to consume.
(4) Dry Curing For Kalamata Olives
In this curing process, salt is sprinkled on a large container and a layer of kalamata olives is placed.
Then salt is sprinkled on the olives, and further layers of olives and salt keep on adding until the container is full.
Once the curing is complete, olives leak out their juices and turn wrinkly.
The juice that leaks out of the olives mixes with salt to take on pasty consistency.
This curing method can take up to several weeks, and salt is routinely refreshed to make the curing process effective.
After completion of dry curing, kalamata olives are usually placed in oil and are sent to market in this typical oil packaging.
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How To Add Kalamata Olives To Your Diet
Kalamata olives are a healthy snack that can be consumed at any time of the day.
Following are some of the ways to add kalamata olives to your diet.
- Add them To Salad– Add some kalamata olives to your salad to make it even more nutritious and delicious.
- As A Pizza Topping– Kalamata olives can be used as a pizza topping.
- In Homemade Red Sauce– Kalamata olives can be used as an ingredient for homemade red sauce.
- Adding Them To Cheese Platter– Kalamata olives can be paired with Cheese crackers and other appetizers.
Health Benefits of Kalamata Olives
Some major benefits of kalamata olives are as follows.
(1) Protection Against Cancer
Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and other antioxidantal compounds phytonutrients, polyphenols, and flavonoids, etc in kalamata olives protect our cells from free radical damage and minimizes the risk of several cancers like colon cancer, abdominal cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer, etc.
Free radicals are the unstabilized ions that stabilize by stealing electrons from the neighboring molecules, and doing so causes oxidative damage to them.
Kalamata olives contain hydroxytyrosol, a polyphenol that makes the antioxidantal potential of kalamata olives to be ten times more powerful than green tea
(2) Promotes Weight Loss
Moderate consumption of kalamata olives is good for weight loss.
Eating 10 small-sized kalamata olives give 60 calories of energy.
Dietary fibers in kalamata olives provide stomach satiety, controls our urge to eat again and again, and thus controls overeating which is a prime cause of obesity.
Kalamata olives provide antioxidantal enzymes to the adipose tissues (fat) of the body and help with lipid breakdown and unnecessary weight gain.
Although kalamata olives are rich in fat it is mostly monosaturated fat that promotes weight loss, reduces inflammation, and improves cardiovascular health.
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(3) Prevent Neurodegenerative Disorders
Kalamata olives improve our neurological health and are good for the brain.
Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients, polyphenols, and flavonoids, etc in the kalamata olives protects the neurons or the brain cells from free radical damage, and thus minimizes the risk of various neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, amnesia, and dementia, etc.
Other nutrients like iron, potassium, zinc, iron, and magnesium, etc in the kalamata olives also contribute to neurological health as they provide several cognitive benefits like a sharper memory, better focus, improved concentration, and reduced mental confusion, etc.
The anti-hypercholesterolemic and lipolytic activity of kalamata olives prevents lipid peroxidation in the body and improves neurological health.
(4) Manages Cholesterol Level
Dietary fibers in kalamata olives reduce LDL cholesterol in the body and minimize the risk of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a condition that leads to hardening and narrowing of the arteries due to the accumulation of plaque and fat deposits in the arterial walls and is a leading cause of several cardiovascular problems like heart attack, heart stroke, and coronary artery disease.
The monosaturated fats in the kalamata olives increase HDL cholesterol in the body and benefit our cardiovascular health.
Phytonutrients and polyphenols in the kalamata olives also play a significant role in cholesterol management.
(5) Improves Cardiovascular Health
Kalamata olives improve our cardiovascular health.
Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols, etc in kalamata olives protect our cardiovascular system from free radical damage and improves its efficiency.
Dietary fibers in kalamata olives reduce LDL cholesterol and thus minimizes the risk of atherosclerosis which is a leading cause of several cardiovascular problems.
Sodium present in the kalamata olives is an essential electrolyte that maintains water balance in and around the cells.
When consumed in moderation, sodium minimizes the risk of hypotension.
Kalamata olives help with lipid breakdown and thus helps with obesity, a prime cause of various cardiovascular problems.
Other nutrients like zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, and copper, etc in kalamata olives also contribute to our cardiovascular health.
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(6) Improves Digestive Health
Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients, polyphenols, and flavonoids, etc in kalamata olives protect our digestive system from free radical damage and minimizes the risk of colon cancer, abdominal cancer, pancreatic cancer, intestinal cancer, and stomach cancer, etc.
The laxative properties of dietary fibers in kalamata olives improve bowel movement, aids in stool elimination, and thus relieve constipation and other gastrointestinal issues like abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating and flatulence, etc.
Other nutrients like zinc, iron, magnesium, and folate, etc also improves our digestive health.
(7) Good For Blood Circulation
The rich nutritious profile of kalamata olives improves blood circulation in the body.
Vitamin C, vitamin A and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols in kalamata olives protect our blood cells and blood vessels from free radical damage and improve the efficiency of the circulatory system.
Dietary fibers in kalamata olives prevent the accumulation of plaque and fat deposits in blood vessels and improve circulatory health.
Kalamata olives also contain iron, a vital mineral that enhances the production of red blood cells and improves blood circulation.
(8) Strengthens Our Immune System
Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients, polyphenols, and flavonoids, etc in kalamata olives protect our immune cells or the white blood cells from free radical damage and thus strengthens our immune system.
The immune system is the defense mechanism of our body that aids in the prevention and treatment of various microbial infections, diseases, and as well as injuries, and wounds.
Vitamin C enhances the production of white blood cells, and further strengthens our immunity.
When our immunity is stronger, we are less likely to get a cough, cold, fever, and flu diminishes significantly.
Other nutrients like zinc, potassium, magnesium, iron, and folate, etc in kalamata olives also contribute to better immune health.
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(9) Controls Blood Sugar Level
Because of their low sugar content, kalamata olives have a low glycemic index that slows down the rate at which sugar is released into the bloodstream, prevents a sudden spike in blood sugar level, and thus helps in managing diabetes.
The dietary fibers in the kalamata olives slow down the rate at which sugar gets absorbed by the bloodstream and helps in controlling blood sugar levels.
Vitamin A in kalamata olives improves insulin sensitivity.
If you are on diabetic medication, consult your doctor before adding kalamata olives to your diet to avoid the risk of food-drug intolerance.
(10) Provides Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Vitamin C, an anti-inflammatory compound in the kalamata olives provides relief from pain and inflammation caused by inflammatory diseases like arthritis, rheumatism, rheumatoid, gouts, asthma and bronchial asthma, etc.
(11) Provides Bone Strengthening Minerals
Kalamata olives strengthen our bones and teeth due to bone-strengthening minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium, etc.
Calcium works along with phosphorus for the growth and development of the bones, and lack of this mineral may increase the risk of bone disorders like osteoporosis.
Potassium neutralizes acid load, reduces loss of calcium from the bones, and thus improves bone density.
Magnesium also improves bone density and thus contributes to better bone health.
Other nutrients like zinc, phosphorus, and folate, etc also aid in making our bones healthier.
(12) Helps With The Detoxification
Because of their detoxifying properties, dietary fibers in kalamata olives eliminate toxins, pollutants, impurities, and other unwanted substances from our bodies.
By helping with the detoxification, it minimizes the burden of detoxification from our vital organs like the liver and kidneys, allowing them to focus on other functions they need to perform.
Vitamin C, vitamin A and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols also help with detoxification.
This article provides general information about the topic and is not be taken as medical advice or as an alternative to medical advice, treatment, and/or diagnosis. Always consult with your doctor before trying out any of the remedies/recipes suggested in the blog post.
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Bharat Sharma is a Delhi-based writer who loves reading and writing research-based topics revolving around health, fitness, and nutrition. His love for writing started during his teenage and continues till date. After his graduation, he worked for GE Money, and IBM, but later found his true love i.e. blogging.