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Aceite de las Valdesas

What is the saponifiable fraction of olive oil?

The saponifiable fraction represents more than 98% of the composition of the Virgin olive oils. It is formed by all the fatty acids, as they are grouped forming triglycerides and diglycerides, or are free.

What we usually know as fats are these fatty acids. These are classified according to their saturation degree. There are saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, according to the following scheme:

Classification of the fatty acids by saturation degree:

 Fatty Acids:           

            Saturated: predominant in animal fats.
            Unsaturated: predominant in vegetal fats:


Physical, chemical and nutritional characteristics of an olive oil depend on the proportion in which the different fatty acids are present, since all the plants generate nearly the same. For example, in the chart below we show the composition of some vegetable oils on the basis of their main fatty acids. This is what is known as the lipid profile of an olive oil.

 Fatty acid profile of some vegetable oils

Olive, Sunflower, Soya, Peanut, Palm.
Palmitic and stearic acids are saturated, oleic acid is monounsaturated, and linoleic and linolenic acids are polyunsaturated.

Most vegetable oils are unsaturated fatty acids, with a few exceptions such like palm and coconut oils. The predominant fatty acid in olive oil is oleic acid, with a greater proportion than any of the other vegetable oils.