A study published in the journal Molecules found that vegetables like tomato, garlic and onion release bioactive compounds (namely carotenoids and polyphenols) when cooked in extra-virgin olive oil. The said vegetables were used because they are often used in Mediterranean cuisine as a sofrito or saute — one of the key techniques used in cooking Mediterranean dishes.
Olive oil is the main fat source in the Mediterranean diet and is one of the most frequently used ingredients in their cuisine. Cooking with said oil has garnered plenty of attention due to its ability to act as a food excipient, meaning it increases the absorption and release of bioactive compounds. In this study, researchers from Spain aimed to understand and assess the effects of cooking olive oil on the bioactive compounds of sofrito sauce ingredients. (Related: Olive oil provides a cure for over sixty diseases.)
According to the researchers, this sauce is jampacked with 40 different phenolic compounds and a high amount of carotenoids. This links its consumption with improved cardiovascular risk parameters and insulin sensitivity.
After cooking the tomato, garlic, and onion in extra-virgin olive oil, the researchers discovered that the certain polyphenols and carotenoids like naringenin, ferulic acid and quercetin transferred into the olive oil, making it significantly easier for the body to absorb these compounds. While the vegetable sample size is small, the study highlights the potential for extra-virgin olive oil to absorb important compounds from the vegetables and how sofrito could be a cooking technique that can improve overall health.
"The main result of the study is that cooking vegetables with extra virgin olive oil favours the bioactive compounds, such as carotenoids and polyphenols that are present in vegetables we find in sofrito (a tomato-based sauce), to move to the olive oil, which enables the absorption and bioactivity of these compounds," said corresponding author Rosa Maria Lamuela, director of the Institute for Research on Nutrition and Food Safety.
You don't need to eat a Mediterranean diet to enjoy the many health benefits of olive oil. You can even use it in your general, everyday cooking routine instead of unhealthy oils like canola. Below you can find a list of everything good about including olive oil in your diet.
Get yourself a bottle of olive oil and try out the Mediterranean diet to enjoy plenty of health benefits and live a much healthier life. Nutrients.news has everything you need to know about your daily nutrition and what foods you could add to your diet.