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Versatile, varied, and utterly delicious, these ancient delicacies are as rich in heart-healthy nutrients as they are in flavor. Here’s the skinny on how to enjoy the many tasty choices you’ll find at your local olive bar.

Olives are even better when paired with other delicacies, like pickled garlic. Instant upgrade: Drain the brine from mixed olives, then toss with fruity olive oil and herbs. Rinse canned Spanish olives before stuffing with cheese, anchovies, or jalapeños.

Mediterranean and North African cultures have long relied on the olive to lend its bold flavor profile to a remarkable range of dishes. “Olives are delicious on their own, of course,” says Molly Siegler, Whole Foods Market’s Culinary Concepts Coordinator, “but you can also roast them alongside fish, toss them in the food processor for a quick tapenade, or chop them to add a burst of flavor to a sauce, salad, or sandwich.” If you’re browsing the olive bar at a local grocery or gourmet store, look for selections with plump, glossy flesh. At home, you can keep pitted varieties fresh in the fridge for a couple of days; pit-in olives will last longer.