Sofrito contains substances that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, study
The combination of tomato, olive oil, garlic and onion in a sofrito increases the amount of polyphenols and carotenoids, which are bioactive compounds that may help to prevent cardiovascular diseases and cancer, according to new research from the University of Barcelona.
The results, which were published in the Food Chemistry magazine, was undertaken by researchers at the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Biomedical Research Centres Network Phyiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBERon) of the Carlos III Health Institute in Spain. The researchers said their work identified for the first time polyphenols and carotenoids, which are antioxidant substances, in sofrito, by using a high resolution mass spectrometry technique. The results showed the presence of at least 40 types of polyphenols.
“These compounds produced by plants and which we eat are related to reduced cardiovascular diseases,” said Rosa Maria Lamuela, researcher at UB and leader of the project.
Other bioactive compounds found in the sofrito included carotenoids and vitamin C. Researchers said various other studies have shown that the intake of carotenoids such as lycopene prevents prostate cancer, and the consumption of foods rich in beta-carotene can help to reduce the incidence of lung cancer.
“Eating a daily amount of 120 grams of sofrito, added to pasta for example, the total intake of polyphenols is 16 to 24 milligrams per portion and 6 to 10 milligrams in the case of carotenoids,” Ms Lamuela said.
Researchers analysed ten types of commercial sofritos, but said that the results also apply to homemade sofrito, “given that they generally include the same ingredients, without taking into account thickeners: tomatoes, onions, garlic and oil”.
The researchers recommended using virgin olive oil instead of sunflower oil and said they were now looking for the ideal proportion of the four ingredients. They said their initial research in this area seemed to suggest that the inclusion of 10 per cent extra virgin olive oil gave “very good results in the sofrito properties”. Researchers also performed a statistical analysis with the levels of phenolic and carotenoid compounds present in each sofrito, which they said enabled them to identify markers that differentiate the components of each brand.