Research Article| Volume 27, ISSUE 2, P159-165, March 2009

Virgin olive oil as a fundamental nutritional component and skin protector


      Fats are indispensable to life not only as an energy source but also for their structural role in the skin, retina, nervous system, lipoproteins, and biologic membranes. They are also precursors of important hormones and constitute the vehicle for the absorption of liposoluble vitamins. Nutritionists recommend a balanced lipid intake corresponding to a total amount of fats equal to 25% to 30% of total calories with a ratio in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Thus, olive oil, with its balanced fatty acid composition, is of high nutritional value. Moreover, extra virgin olive oil, extracted from a fruit, has an important value related to the antioxidant power of minor components. Extra virgin olive oil contains 98% to 99% triglycerides and 1% to 2% minor components. In the triglycerides, the main fatty acids are represented by monounsaturates (oleic), with a slight amount of saturates and an adequate amount of polyunsaturates. The minor components are α-tocopherol, phenol compounds, carotenoids, squalene, phytosterols, and chlorophyll. Factors that can influence olive oil's composition, especially in regard to its minor components, are the cultivar, area of production, time of harvesting, and degree of technology used in its production. Therefore, an evaluation of the biologic value of extra virgin olive oil and its use as a topical raw material in cosmetic dermatology is reported.
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