Olive oil: the characteristics of a unique product

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Robert Maurer
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Olive oil is a unique product and irreplaceable, at the table and for beauty: let's see what olive oil contains e what are its characteristics.



What does olive oil contain

THEolive oil it is obtained by pressing the olives, the fruits of Olea europaea, a tree widespread in the Mediterranean.

Her chemical composition depends on several elements:

> the variety of the plant;


> the degree of ripeness of the olives;

> some environmental factors.

Olive oil is made up 98-99% from fatty acids present in the form of triglycerides and, to a lesser extent, diglycerides and monoglycerides.

The most represented fatty acid is oleic acid: in a good quality oil, the oleic acid should not be less than 73% and the ratio of oleic acid to linoleic acid should be equal to or less than 7.

In addition to fatty acids, olive oil contains minor compounds that determine the different organoleptic qualities of the different oils. This unsaponifiable fraction it represents only 1-2% of the oil but contains numerous substances that give aromatic notes, color and antioxidant properties. It includes hydrocarbons, aliphatic and terpenic alcohols, sterols, tocopherols, phenols and pigments.


Based on the quantitative and qualitative composition of the substances present in the unsaponifiable fraction, vary:

> on flavor, which is due to phenolic compounds, as well as to the ratio of oleic acid to linoleic acid;

> theodor, given by volatile compounds;

> on colore, determined by the presence of pigments.

 

Read also 10 foods rich in healthy fats >>

 


Why olive oil changes color

Il olive oil color it is due to the presence of natural fat-soluble pigments, ie chlorophylls and carotenoids, which vary according to different factors: this is why the oil can take on different shades over time.

I carotenoids they are pigments reds, yellows and oranges. Those present in virgin olive oil, in variable quantities based on the degree of ripeness of the olives and the method of extraction, are for example neoxanthin, xanthophylls, beta-carotene and lutein.

Il green color of olive oil it is instead given by chlorophylls: also in this case, the quantity of these pigments depends on the variety and ripeness of the fruit, the method of extraction and the conservation of the oil. The oil obtained from unripe olives contains a greater quantity of chlorophylls.


 

The characteristics of olive oil

Being a lipid food, olive oil essentially has the function of provide energy to the body.

Le nutritional characteristics of olive oil they are mainly due to its main constituent, oleic acid, a very digestible fatty acid.

Il habitual consumption of olive oil it also seems to have a protective role against atherosclerosis thanks to the presence of oleic acid (more stable to oxidation than other fatty acids), vitamin E and other antioxidant substances.

This seasoning also allows you to make foods more palatable and absorb fat-soluble vitamins.


Thanks to his unique features, olive oil is also used in cosmetics as well as at the table. The fatty acids and antioxidant substances make it an excellent emollient product capable of making the skin softer, hydrated and elastic, thus preventing the formation of wrinkles.

 

Leggi anche L'olio d'oliva per l pelle, capelli e unghie >>

 

Foto: Dusan Zidar /123rf.com

 

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