Viva EVOO: How Color Saturation May Be an Indicator of the Health Benefits of Olive Oil

The health benefits of olive oil have been touted in nutrition columns for quite some time and evidence shows that color saturation may be adding yet another beneficial factor. Color has always been a sign of quality in olive oil, and that visually appealing greenish hue is reflected in the prices as well. Premium olive oils are now costing nearly $20 per bottle, so consumers should be aware of how much bang they are getting for their buck. What we already know about nutrition and the need for healthy fats makes olive oil a top product choice, but with so many options available it can be hard to know which type is best. Knowledge of color saturation and how it may reflect health benefits is now a new factor in consumer choice, and the rivalry continues to rise as manufacturers compete to create a product exceeds the rest.

The list of health benefits of olive oil continues to grow, and its classification as a monounsaturated (MUFA) fat already puts it ahead of the market against the forbidden saturated and trans fats. But the benefits do not stop there. Research has shown a link between the pigments in olive oil and their relation to specific health-boosting antioxidants. This now makes color saturation in olive oil more important than ever.  Color has always been linked to quality in this industry, but competitors are now using colorimetric technology and spectrophotometers to measure color saturation as an indicator to the amount of beneficial antioxidants in their products as well.

bottle and olives healthy benefits of olive oil
Research shows that the plant-based nature of olive-oil provides beneficial antioxidant power. Using spectrophotometers, the pigment levels can be analyzed and measured for proper labeling.
Image Source: Flickr user U.S. Department of Agriculture

What color means to the consumer

Numerous studies have shown a correlation between color perception and food quality. External appearance of foods is a leading factor for consumers when the make purchasing choices, so it’s no wonder colorimetric science has become so deeply embedded in the foods industries. Visual acceptability not only indicates quality, but the fine art of color control is what eventually persuades many buyer purchases. Acceptability of color has been the top priority in olive oil manufacturing for many years, but with a new focus on the health benefits of olive oil, industry leaders are now paying closer attention to what color saturation tells us about the nutritional value of the product.

The relation between color and health

Chlorophylls are the natural pigments that occur in olive oil, which lend to its desirable greenish hue. This term is commonly associated with the basic science concept of photosynthesis and how plants make food. Analysis of color saturation  can tell us where these levels of chlorophyll fall and provide the answers to unlocking even more health potential in olive oils. Researchers are now finding powerful antioxidants that have been hidden in the color-binding pigments of this plant-based product, which creates a new reason for accurate measurement and quantification of color saturation.

greenish hue healthy benefits of olive oil
Hidden within the greenish hues of olive oil are the powerful antioxidants that make this product even more desirable to the consumer.
Image Source: Flickr user fdecomite

Information and research continues to support this claim, and with this new element of desirability, manufactures have yet another reason to set their prices based on color. However, before allowing an official statement on the health benefits of olive oil, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) is demanding stricter color measurement and data. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) already has testing requirements in place to ensure that pure olive oil products are not being watered down by other plant-based oil products, but now scientists and regulatory bodies are looking for ways to accurately measure the chlorophyll content as well.

With ongoing research about the link between antioxidants and color saturation, scientist are pushing for new legislation that uses quantifiable color measurement as an indicator for the actual health benefits olive oil provides. Spectrophotometers are currently the only method that can accurately measure translucent or semi-transparent liquids and provide quantifiable data for color saturation that would justify specific labeling in relation to these health benefits.

oil pour healthy benefits of olive oil
The pigments in olive oil create the hue of green that consumers relate to product quality, but new studies show it also serves as an indicator for the amount of beneficial antioxidants.
Image Source: Flickr’ user Flavio

Measurement tools for translucent and semi-transparent liquids

Translucent and semi-transparent liquids diffuse light as it passes through them. Therefore, in order to precisely measure color saturation and pigment content, the use of reflective and transmittance mode spectrophotometers are needed. Accurate measurements depend on the right instrumentation and product knowledge to precisely quantify color saturation and data. HunterLab offers a variety of instrumentation options specifically designed with these needs in mind. Based on over 60+ years of experience, we can offer the expert advice you need to find the right tools for all your color measurement needs. Contact HunterLab today to learn more about our products.

 

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