– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – Lightly cooking vegetables with extra virgin olive oil has many benefits, researchers claim.
Experts have long advocated for abiding by a traditional Mediterranean diet consisting of a high intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish and unsaturated fats such as olive oil – with the regimen believed to help boost heart and brain health.
Now, a team led by Dr. Rosa M. Lamuela at the University of Barcelona, and other several other institutions, has found that extra virgin olive oil “favours the absorption” and release of bioactive compounds of ingredients such as garlic, onion and tomato.
“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,” Dr. Lamuela said.
According to researchers, making a sofrito sauce, one of the key cooking techniques in the Mediterranean diet, with extra virgin olive oil is one way to harness the benefits, as this sauce has 40 different phenolic compounds, a high amount of carotenoids, and its consumption is associated with an improvement of the cardiovascular risk parameters and insulin sensitivity.
“We saw that this increase can occur due the migration of bioactive compounds (carotenoids and polyphenols) from the tomato to the oil during the cooking process, which favours the absorption of these compounds,” added first author Jose Fernando Rinaldi de Alvarenga.
Looking to the future, the researchers hope to investigate the mechanisms with which gastronomy could play a relevant role in the health-improving effects of the Mediterranean diet.
Full results have been published in the journal Molecule.