Is an Olive a Vegetable?
When people think of ‘vegetables’, they usually think of the quintessential ‘veggie’ staples— broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, onions, carrots, and much more. While the term ‘vegetable’ is generally inclusive of all edible plant matter, the question of whether olives can be considered ‘vegetables’ is contested.
To answer this question, let’s first look at what comprises a vegetable:
What Constitutes a Vegetable?
Vegetables are defined based on their culinary uses, and can be aggregated into four main categories:
- Leaves: spinach, cabbage, lettuce, and kale
- Roots: potatoes, carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, turnips and radishes
- Flowers: artichoke, broccoli and cauliflower
- Fruits: tomatoes, squash and cucumbers
From this definition, olives are certainly not classified as leaves, roots, or flowers. So that leaves us with one option—fruits.
Olives as Fruits
At first glance, it seems like olives are vegetables due to their savory taste, but this is only true when they’re fresh. As soon as they’re processed, olives turn into a fruit.
While olives may look like vegetables, botanically, olives are fruits of the Olea europaea tree, a small evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean region.
An edible part of the plant, olives have a fleshy body surrounded by a hard skin. In the center, there’s one single pit (or stone) where their unique flavor comes from.
So, to answer the question of whether olives are vegetables—the answer is no. Botanically speaking, olives are a type of fruit, and not vegetables.
Olives are a great source of flavor and nutrition; they’re rich in antioxidants, healthy fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Olives are also low in calories and carbohydrates, making them a good choice for those who are trying to lose weight.
With their delicious and versatile taste, olives can be added to a variety of dishes—from salads, pastas, and sandwiches, to pizzas, and much more. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, or just want to add a unique flavor to your dishes, olives can be a great addition.