Most of us who have been on a ketogenic diet know that fruits are to be avoided, with maybe the exception of those “technically” fruits like avocados and tomatoes. However, olives are also one of those magical fruits that can be worked into a keto lifestyle!
Olives are an incredibly versatile food that have been cultivated by humans for 1000s of years. We’re all familiar with the typical “green” and “black” olive varieties, but the olive rabbit hole goes deeper than you may think. First of all, green and black olives aren’t really different varieties of olives; they’re just picked at different stages of ripeness. Black olives are picked at the peak of ripeness, so they usually end up being softer with a more mild flavor. Green olives are picked at various degrees of un-ripeness, meaning they will be more dense and bitter. This time difference, as well as the region the olives are from, and the method for curing them, is what gives olives their diverse flavor profile.
Olives can be cured in different solutions to give them different unique tastes. Many olives are soaked in a solution of lye and water to soften them. This process takes a very short time, but unfortunately also removes most of the nutrients of the fruit. Other olives are cured in a bath of brine water, which can take several months, or air-cured, which causes some wrinkling of the olives but preserves the strong flavor and nutrient profile.
In 1910, a process was discovered in order to can black olives, which previously were different to transport because they would discolor. This involved lye-curing green olives in an oxygenated solution to turn them black, then treating them with ferrous gluconate to preserve the color. If possible, avoid buying canned black olives that have been “stabilized” with this substance – they will be almost completely devoid of nutrients! Look for organic brands of olives, as these will more likely be treated using a brine solution instead of lye, and will be much more nutritious.
All of that to say, olives definitely make for a great keto treat. They can be eaten by themselves as a snack, or used to enhance dishes like salads, dips, casseroles, or even some keto friendly pizza! At a small enough serving size, most olive jars will claim “zero” carbs, but all fruits and veggies have a small amount of digestible carbs: one large olive will be about 0.5 grams of fat to 0.2 grams of carbohydrates. With a little planning, these delicious salty fruits can be easily worked into any keto lifestyle.
Check out Carole’s Olive Taste Test Video for a breakdown of the different flavors of olives from all different parts of the globe!