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Olive Oil Technical

Information about the technical aspects of olives and olive oil.

The following is published with the kind permission of Guido Costa.

Guido has worked in the family olive farming business in Paarl (60 km from Cape Town, South Africa) since completing studies in 1987: responsibilities include processing of table olives, production of olive oil, propagation of olive trees, conversion of operation to full organic production, etc., etc. The family business (F. Costa & Sons) was founded by his Italian horticulturalist grandfather, Ferdinando Costa, in 1904 as the first olive/olive oil business in South Africa. COSTAS Olives and Olive Oils are the oldest established olive product brands in S.A. His qualifications include: BSc (Physics & Chemistry majors), BSc. (Hons.) (Chemistry), MSc (Chemistry) cum laude, MBA (University of Cape Town).

Varying fatty acid profiles in olive oils from different areas can modify the ratio of Saturated vs. Monounsaturated vs. Polyunsaturated fatty acids(SFAs, MUFAs & PUFAs). Tunisian oil, for instance, is relatively high in SFAs (specifically palmitic) and low in MUFAs (specifically oleic), whilst Australian (and South African) oils are much higher in MUFAs and lower in SFAs. From the health point of view, the latter oils are preferred, because of the proven beneficial effect of MUFAs on our serum cholesterol levels. MUFAs have been shown to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol (low density lipoproteins) yet retain "good" HDL cholesterol (high density lipoproteins). This, chemically speaking, is in fact the major benefit of olive oil over the highly polyunsaturated seed oils, wherein the PUFAs reduce both the "bad" as well as the "good" serum cholesterol levels in our blood.