Rate of degradation of alpha-tocopherol, squalene, phenolics, and polyunsaturated fatty acids in olive oil during different storage conditions

J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Sep 25;50(20):5566-70. doi: 10.1021/jf011063j.


Changes in the concentration of tocopherol, monophenols, o-diphenols, squalene, and polyunsaturated fatty acids in olive oil were evaluated during 1 year at various storage conditions. Samples of two different extra virgin olive oil (EOO), produced in Calabria (Italy), were stored in dark and in colorless bottles, filled up completely or to half, in order to simulate the domestic storage conditions. The extent of oxidation or photooxidation was monitored by periodic measurements of peroxide values and the rate of degradation of alpha-tocopherol, o-diphenols, squalene, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The quantitative analysis of the constituents has been performed by HPLC-DAD, HPLC-MS, and GC-MS. The main changes in the concentrations of the analyzed compounds were associated with the major oxygen level in the half-empty glass bottles. alpha-Tocopherol was the first molecule to be oxidized (-20% after 2 months, -92% after 12 months). Squalene and o-diphenols were protected in the first months by the presence of alpha-tocopherol, and their content decreased significantly only after 6 and 8 months, respectively, in the half-empty bottles. The concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids remained almost constant during 8 months for all four different storage conditions; their oxidation started when the level of the antioxidants decreased.

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Drug Stability
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / chemistry
  • Food Preservation*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Italy
  • Kinetics
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Olive Oil
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Peroxides / analysis
  • Phenols / analysis*
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Photochemistry
  • Plant Oils / chemistry*
  • Squalene / analysis*
  • Squalene / chemistry
  • alpha-Tocopherol / analysis*
  • alpha-Tocopherol / chemistry


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Olive Oil
  • Peroxides
  • Phenols
  • Plant Oils
  • Squalene
  • alpha-Tocopherol