Black Olives Vs. Green: Is There A Nutritional Difference?

Some people like olives, some hate them; there is something about the salty brine of this Mediterranean fruit that divides people. The olive has been widely grown in Greece, Italy, and Spain for centuries, as Serious Eats notes. Olives are not only fantastic for direct consumption but they are also harvested for their oil which people all over the world use today for their cooking and baking.

But how we use different colored olives varies widely. There is, of course, some overlap, but for the most part, green olives tend to be cured and then stuffed with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and even mozzarella. In contrast, black olives are usually chopped up and thrown onto pizzas and into salads as a briny garnish. So if you indulge in this salty snack through your food or drinks, you probably have a favorite type. But is there really that big of a nutritional difference between olives, or have we blown this way out of proportion?

Flavor and nutrition

According to Shea Rosen, director of product development at Mezzetta, the major difference between a black olive and green olive comes down to the harvest (via HuffPost). Green olives are harvested before they are fully ripe, leaving them with firmer flesh and more of a verdant flavor. Black olives are harvested when the fruit is fully ripe on the trees, which is why the color is so different, but this does not mean that they are safe to eat, so don't go plucking ripe olives off of trees and eating them raw! According to the University of California, both green and black olives must be cured for safe consumption.

But there really isn't a difference when it comes to nutrition. Rosen tells us that you shouldn't choose your olives because they are healthier than others. There really aren't any nutritional differences between ripe and unripe olives, just a slight change in bitterness between the green and black fruit. The BBC lists that all olives are a wealth of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients and are a wonderful source of healthy bacteria for your gut. So, while they are great for you in moderation, one type is not better than another. In other words, buy whichever color brings you the most joy!