Cooking Vegetables with Extra Virgin Olive Oil makes them Healthier

A study from the University of Barcelona in Spain published in the Molecules Journal April 19, 2019, shows that lightly frying vegetables with olive oil in the sofrito sauce makes the vegetables healthier. Olive oil has the ability to act as a food excipient, which helps to release and absorb bioactive compounds from the ingredients in the sofrito. The researchers mainly looked at garlic, onion and tomato, the three traditional ingredients found in the sofrito. The study was led by Rosa M. Lamuela.

Differences in Cooking Practices

In spite of the fact that the Mediterranean Diet has been confirmed around the world for its health boosting properties, this has been hard to reproduce in non-Mediterranean populations. The researchers believe this is because of differences in cooking practices. In countries around the Mediterranean tomatoes, garlic and onions play a major role and lightly frying vegetables  with olive oil in the sofrito sauce makes them healthier.

Lightly Frying Vegetables in the Sofrito Sauce with Olive Oil Leads to Health Benefits

The researchers studied the effect of extra virgin olive oil and the sofrito sauce. They discovered that sofrito sauce has 40 different phenolic compounds and a high amount of carotenoids and they believe that cooking vegetables in this sofrito sauce is the main reason for the cardiovascular and antidiabetic benefits of the Mediterranean diet. These beneficial phenols and carotenoids are released to the olive oil and this helps them to be absorbed in a beneficial way by the body.

Anti-inflammatory Benefits

The olive oil increases the anti-inflammatory effects of the tomato sauce when these phenols and carotenoids move from the vegetables into the olive oil.

The Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

In 1958 it was noted that people living around the Mediterranean in countries like Greece, Spain and Italy had lower rates of heart disease, stroke and dementia than other countries. Researchers began investigating what was unique in their lifestyles that caused them to be so much healthier than people in other countries. The researchers concluded that their Mediterranean cuisine, which consisted of fish with very little meat, lots of vegetables, legumes, yogurt and cheeses, whole grains, nuts, fruit and extra virgin olive oil as their only dietary fat was the key to the better health of these people. They did not drink alcoholic beverages except for some wine which was only drunk during meals. Thus came about the Mediterranean Diet.

Fish Eaters had Larger Brains than Meat Eaters

Studies have shown the Mediterranean Diet is healthy for the brain. In 2015 there was a study that showed that people living off of the Mediterranean diet who ate more fish had larger brains than people who ate diets with more meat. The study focused on measuring brain volume by MRI on 674 seniors without dementia. In other words, there was less shrinking of the brains of the seniors who followed a Mediterranean diet and this provided them with five years less of aging.

Six Studies Show Mediterranean Diet Lowers Risk for Age Related Diseases

Six studies were published in the Journals of Gerontology, March, 2018, that show the Mediterranean Diet can lower the risk for all kinds of age related diseases:

  • Atrial Fibrillation – an abnormal rhythm that can lead to heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Breast Cancer
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s Disease

Healthy Fats Rather than Low Fat

The first article cites a previous study that compared the Mediterranean Diet with a low-fat diet and showed that the Mediterranean Diet lowered the risk for heart disease and death from heart disease by 30% as compared to a low-fat diet (2013, Prevención con Dieta Mediterráne -PREDIMED trial).

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil, that is the sole fat and oil used in the Mediterranean Diet, is a monounsaturated fat that does not lead to weight gain. Previous studies have verified that extra virgin olive oil protects the blood vessels of the heart and brain.

Choose a Rehab or Skilled Nursing Care Facility that Provides a Healthy and Nutritious Cuisine

If you or your loved one are in need of rehabilitation or skilled nursing care, choose a facility like the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York. Van Duyn offers fine dining with a healthy and nutritious cuisine by a skilled and talented chef in conjunction with a dietitian and food service director.


The main conclusion is to use extra-virgin-olive oil as the sole fat in your diet and to lightly fry vegetables in tomato sauce with garlic and onions.



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