The fatty acids of olive oil are classified into saturated acids (palmitiz, steanic, etc.) and unsaturated acids (oleic, linoleic, linolenic). The unsaturated acids are again classified into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated acids. Oleic acid is the major monounsaturated fatty acid of olive oil, between 60% - 80% of total fatty acids. In general the unsaturated acids are liquid whereas the saturated are solid. At normal temperatures, olive oil remains liquid and this is due to its large amount of unsaturated compounds. At lower temperatures, below freezing point the oil may form waxy crystals. This does not alter its quality.
Other fatty acids contained in olive oil are: Omega 9 oleic, Omega 6 Linoleic and Omega 3 Linolenic. Olive oils from the more southern region of the Mediterranean tend to be higher in linolic acid then on northern regions.
Tocopherrols: An excellent source of Vitamin E.
Phenols, polyphenols, phenolicacids : They have an important antioxidative effect
Sterols and especially B sitosterol : This can only be found in olive oil. Its effect is extremely important as it counters intestinal absorption of dietary cholesterol.
Hydrocarbons : These also have an antioxidative effect
Alcohols : It is believed to help the distancing of cholesterol through the increase of bile production
The colouring substances in olive oil are:
- a- chlorophyll
These substances are extremely useful in metabolism, cell renewal and wound healing.