Piedmont olive oils collected in 2010 were characterized, for the first time, in terms of their fatty acid profile using GC and 1H NMR and compared to other oils from five Italian regions. Applying NMR spectroscopy on the olive oil samples, without manipulation, it is possible to calculate the proportion of the different acyl groups in the oil samples. As the area of the signals is proportional to the number of each type of proton in the sample, saturated, monounsaturated (oleic acid) and polyunsaturated (linoleic and linolenic acids) fatty acids were determined. All analyzed samples can be categorized as virgin olive oil extra quality according to the oleic/linoleic ratio. Based on a preliminary geographical investigation, olive oils produced in the North of Italy show a good separation from those from Central and Southern regions.
Practical applications: Oil characterization of new products is the basis for further nutritional and food technological investigations and the quality of edible oils is of great concern especially for products available on the market. The two adopted techniques show a remarkable agreement in the evaluation of fatty acid composition of oil samples. Also, this research, by means of 1H NMR, provides information on geographical origin of the olive oils of Northern Italian regions with respect to Central and Southern regions.