The colour of olive oil is due to the presence of natural pigments belonging to the class of carotenoids, chlorophylls, and their derivatives. These substances, other than being responsible for the colour, an important qualitative feature of the oil, have antioxidant and, more generally, nutraceutical properties and their quantification can be related to the product’s quality and authenticity. In this work, we have quantified the total amount of carotenoids and chlorophylls’ derivatives in several virgin and extra-virgin olive oils produced in Italy, by using two different methods that are based on near-ultraviolet-visible absorption spectroscopy. The first method defines two indexes, K670 and K470, related to absorbance values of oil at wavelengths of 670 and 470 nm, respectively. The second method is based on the mathematical deconvolution of the whole absorption spectrum of the oil to obtain the concentrations of four main pigments present in olive oils: β-carotene, lutein, pheophytin A, and pheophytin B. The concentrations of the total carotenoids and total chlorophylls’ derivatives, as obtained by the two spectroscopic methods, are compared and the results are discussed in view of the practical usefulness of spectroscopic techniques for a fast determination of pigments in olive oil.
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