Food Analytical Methods

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 1234–1242 | Cite as

An Analytical Simplification for Faster Determination of Fatty Acid Composition and Phytosterols in Seed Oils

  • Aída García-González
  • Joaquín Velasco
  • Leonardo Velasco
  • M. Victoria Ruiz-Méndez


The fatty acid composition and the amounts of individual and total sterols in vegetable oils are the main analyses applied in the food industry to establish the oil nature. While the fatty acid composition is a relatively simple, fast analysis, the determination of phytosterols requires a laborious and time-consuming sample preparation. Both methods require a relatively large amount of oil, which may be an important drawback when only small samples are available. In this study, an analytical procedure that combines the sample preparation of both determinations is proposed to analyze small amounts of seed oils. From a single sample preparation, the total analysis time was considerably shortened. By applying a total methylation, the triacylglycerols and free fatty acids were transformed into fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) derivatives. Likewise, free sterols were completely released from their conjugated forms. Then, the derivatized oil was fractionated by solid-phase extraction into two fractions containing the FAME and free sterols, respectively. Both fractions were analyzed by gas-liquid chromatography. The analytical changes introduced provided reliable results for the main fatty acids and the major sterols in terms of accuracy and repeatability. Compared to the standard procedures, the time for sample preparation was reduced by half. In addition, it was much less laborious and required less volume of organic solvents, which reduced considerably the total cost of analysis and solvent waste. Consequently, the method proposed can be adopted as routine analysis in laboratories of oil quality control in the food industry.


Phytosterols Fatty acids Seed oil Solid-phase extraction SPE 



This work was funded by “Junta de Andalucía” through project P12-AGR-4622 and the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness through project AGL2013–45110-R. The authors thank to Irene Pérez de la Rosa for her technical assistance.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Aída García-González declares that she has no conflict of interest. Joaquín Velasco declares that he has no conflict of interest. Leonardo Velasco declares that he has no conflict of interest. M. Victoria Ruiz-Méndez declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Not applicable.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de la Grasa, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)Campus Universidad Pablo de Olavide E46SevilleSpain
  2. 2.Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)CórdobaSpain

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