Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Fall 2013

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences

Program or Major

Nutrition; Dietetics

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Joanne Curran-Celentano


Olive oil is a high quality food that comes at a high-quality price. Extra virgin olive oils are obtained through specific methods created to extract the highest quality oil. The world market of olive oil is rife with accusations of adulteration and false claims regarding quality. These are serious accusations, since adulteration results in lower quality oils. True extra virgin olive oils contain higher levels of beneficial compounds including antioxidant phenolic compounds. Specific mechanisms have been identified in which phenolic compounds in the olive oil matrix exhibit antioxidant activity contributing to the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease, among other health benefits. The question investigated is; "How do olive oils available locally measure up in terms of phenolic compound content and flavor, and does this show in the way they are marketed?” Olive oils were obtained from locations around the University of New Hampshire and assessed for total phenolic content through colorimetric absorbance after extraction and reaction with Folin-Ciocalteu reagent. Three EVOO selected for their range of phenolic content were evaluated by sensory analysis. Analysis regarding the relationship between storage methods and container type, phenolic contents and Hedonic acceptance followed the sensory investigation. The results of the chemical analysis supported that olive oils vary greatly in the concentration of phenolic compounds; the sensory analysis showed a preference for olive oils with low to moderate levels of phenolic compounds. Comparing the market analysis of locally available olive oils found that price is not related to consumer preference or phenolic compound content level. The researchers recommend more research be put into this effort to educate consumers regarding the quality of olive oils.