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Benefits of Sofrito and Olive Oil

Benefits of Sofrito and Olive Oil

Try this dish for added benefits to your heart health.

Olive oil has been the liquid gold of Italian cuisine since 4,000 BCE according to evidence found in an ancient pottery jar in central Italy. And its powers have been tapped for health reasons for millennia, too. Around 350 BCE, the Greek philosopher Aristotle declared, as part of a topical rub, it could ease insomnia in elephants. But we get a kick out of the writer Jane Wagner’s pithy question about the lovely lipid: “If olive oil comes from olives, then where does baby oil come from?”

Research in the journal Molecules shows that if you want to get the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, you need to adopt the region’s cooking methods, too. The researchers looked at the nutrition-unleashing benefits of sofrito—it’s a time-honored mix of onions, garlic and tomatoes (plus veggies such as celery and carrots) slowly sauteed in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and added to everything from pasta and fish to steamed veggies. They found cooking in EVOO releases bioactive compounds (polyphenols, carotenoids) in those ingredients.

The result is they are more easily absorbed and used by your gut biome and body, resulting in profound benefits to your heart health and insulin sensitivity and conversion of white fat to brown fat (which speeds up your metabolism)—all well-known effects of the Mediterranean diet. The tomato sofrito recipe that the researchers used: 3.5oz. EVOO, 14oz. onion, 1.4oz. garlic and a pound of tomatoes. You can scale it back proportionately.

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