Olive oil is the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet and the most frequently used ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Cooking with olive oil has been attracting attention because it can act as a food excipient, thereby increasing the bioaccessibility and bioavailability of ingested bioactive compounds. The aim of this study was to understand the effect of cooking with olive oil on the bioactive components in other ingredients (tomato, onion, and garlic) of sofrito sauce, a representative model of Mediterranean cuisine. After the cooking process, polyphenols from tomato, onion, and garlic were detected in the olive oil, especially naringenin, ferulic acid, and quercetin, as well as a high content of carotenoid Z-isomers, which are more bioavailable than the E-isomers. Therefore, traditional Mediterranean cuisine could play an important role in the health-improving effects of the Mediterranean diet.
Keywords: carotenoid isomerization; garlic; lycopene; matrix effect; naringenin; onion; phenolic compounds; tomato.