Can you eat olive pits?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat olive pits?”. We will also elaborate on the nutritional content of olive pits. different recipes in which olive pits are used, as well as the uses and drawbacks of olive pits.

Can you eat olive pits?

Yes, you can eat olive pits without any doubt. Although during the past, the pit and seed of olive were discarded as people used to consider these as a waste product. However, the edible part of the pit is the seed, rich in oils (1).

But now new optical sorting technologies have been devised that have made olive pits safe to eat. Not only humans but also some birds and animals enjoy olives off the tree. The pit, or whole olive stone, consists of the woody stone or shell and the seed, which is located inside the shell (1).

Olive pits

Pitted olives are those olives whose pits are removed. Some ingredients like pimiento, dried tomatoes, garlic, and onions are used to stuff them. Pitting of olives can be done at home like olives can be crushed against the side of a chef’s knife. By this method, hard pits can be ejected from the olives. 

The taste of olive pits

The taste of olive pits depends on the type of it and it also depends on whether it is ripe or unripe. In general, the taste of olive pits is a little bitter and salty. Olive pits also have some tanginess to them. The seeds are a source of many phenolic compounds, which give the seed the characteristic olive aroma (3).

The nutritional content of olive pits

The whole stone (pit) consists of the wood shell (stone) and the seed (1).

Following are some nutrients that you can avail of by eating olive pits:

  • Protein
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Sodium

Studies indicate that olive seeds are an unusually rich source of total dietary fiber (% 47% dry weight basis), as well as lipids (% 30%) and proteins (% 17%). Oil composition shows high levels of oleic (% 62% of total fatty acids) and linoleic (% 24%) acids, moderate concentrations of tocopherols (% 460 mg/kg) and squalene (% 194 mg/kg), and relatively high amounts of several sterols and non-steroidal triterpenoids. Olive seed proteins are a rich source of essential amino acids. Olive seeds also contain significant amounts of some essential macro-elements (K, Ca, Mg, Na, P) and microelements (Zn, Mn, Cu) (2).

Olive woody stones comprise 34% of cellulose, 25% of hemicellulose, 34% of insoluble lignin, and ~1% of ash (3).

Ingredients of olive pits

Olive pits are made of two main ingredients which are as follows:

  • StonesPulp or woody shell
  • Seeds

The olive consists of flesh (75–85% by weight), stone (13–23% by weight) and seed (2–3% by weight)Out of the total weight of the olive pits, 70 to 90 per cent of the weight is the weight of the pulp. The remaining 30 per cent weight of olive pits is of seeds. Whereas the main components of pulp are protein, sugar, water, oil, ash, pectin, etc. The stones contain mainly cellulose and other fibers, while the seeds, which are inside the stones, contain large amounts of oils and proteins (2).

Different recipes in which olive pits are used

Following are some recipes that use olive pits:

  • Roasted olives with fennel and lemon recipe: All the ingredients including black olives, garlic, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper are collected. The oven is preheated to 350℃. Olives, garlic slices, and lemon slices are placed in an eight-inch baking pan. 

This is then baked for about forty-five minutes. Olives are stirred at least three times. After baking, it is removed from the oven and is stored in the refrigerator. This can be served to many people.

  • Greek olive paste: Firstly olives are removed from the pits. Olives can be removed either by squeezing them with a finger or with fingers by hitting them. Seeds are discarded. 

All of the ingredients excluding garnish are placed in a food processor. This food processor must be fitted with the blades and pulse. 

Ingredients are processed in a food processor till they reach desired consistency level. Seasoning can be done according to the requirements. This can be served either as a spread over bread or to enhance the flavor of our meal.

  • Marinated olives: All the ingredients including garlic, lemon, pepper, chili flakes, and parsley, etc are collected. All the ingredients excluding parsley, olives, and olive oil are placed in a mixing bowl. 

Parsley is finely chopped and then added to the pot together with the olive oil. Everything is mixed finely. Olives are drained and are added to the marinades. Then it is served.

The uses of olive pits

Following are some uses of olive pits:

  • Used for decontamination: Olive pits are used to decontaminate sewage on a small scale. These eliminate heavy metals from sewage.
  • Source of electricity: Olive companies utilize olive pits to energize whole plants so olive pits serve as a source of electricity.
  • Obtention of phenol-formaldehyde resins: The rich polyphenolic composition of the seed able the development of special resins 
  • Used as a dietary animal supplement: Due to the high amount of cellulose and cellulose, the woody shells can be used to feed animals (34). 

The health benefits of olive pits

Following are some health benefits of olive pits (seeds):

  • Source of antioxidants: Antioxidants present in olive pits reduce the risk of cardiac diseases and cancer. These are also very effective to fight off inflammation. Phenolic compounds of olive seeds have high radical scavenging capacity
  • Good for bone health: Certain components present in olive pits help to enhance the strength of bones and prevent us from osteoporosis.
  • Prevention from cancer: Oleic acid content of olive pits is good to prevent cancer. Because these oleic acids disrupt the life cycle of cancer cells in the body.
  • Prevention from heart stroke: olive seed oil is richer in individual sterols (mainly β-sitosterol) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (higher content of linoleic acid) than olive oil, which help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke (3). 

The side effects of olive pits

Following are some side effects of olive pits

  • Not safe for pregnant women: Few studies have revealed that olive pits are not safe for pregnant women as they may cause some allergic reactions in them.
  • Affects blood sugar level: People with diabetes must be very cautious of olive pits. Because it has been noticed that olive pits reduce blood sugar levels.
  • Ingestion of heavy metals: the presence of vanadium, arsenic, cadmium and lead—which are associated to different degrees and types of toxicity in humans—was detected in the olive seeds but in very small amounts. However, when consumed in large quantities, it can lead to intoxication (3).

Other FAQs about Olives that you may be interested in.

Can you freeze olives?

How to preserve olives

Can you eat fresh olives?

Can black olives go bad?

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat olive pits?”. We have also elaborated on the nutritional content of olive pits. different recipes in which olive pits are used, as well as the uses and drawbacks of olive pits.

References

  1. Awad, Adel, Hana Salman, and Yung-Tse Hung. Olive oil waste treatment. Waste Treatment in the Food Processing Industry, 2006, 119-192.
  2. Maestri, D., Barrionuevo, D., Bodoira, R. et al. Nutritional profile and nutraceutical components of olive (Olea europaea L.) seeds. J Food Sci Technol, 2019, 56, 4359–4370. 
  3. Nunes, M. Antónia, et al. Olive by-products for functional and food applications: Challenging opportunities to face environmental constraints. Inn Food Sci Emerg Technol, 2016, 35, 139-148.