Health knowledge and news provided by doctors.

Mediterranean Sofrito is a Delicious Way to Lower Heart Disease Risk

Harold Mandel's picture

A simple intervention like eating Mediterranean Sofrito could help lower your risk of heart disease. What's in the food that's so heart healthy?


Heart disease is becoming of greater concern to more and more people as they confront problems with weight control and aging. There are a myriad of medicinal treatments for heart disease with bypass surgery often being presented as an option when drugs fail to prevent and treat heart disease. The side effects from drug treatment and the fears of increased pain and suffering along with high costs from cardiac surgery have people searching for natural manners to help them maintain a healthy heart. Great news is that nutritional approaches to preventing heart disease are often very successful. Recent research points to Mediterranean sofrito as offering a tasty option to help you prevent heart disease.

The first question which comes to mind for a lot of us is what is sofrito? An in depth appreciation of what safrito is made up of is not something we find could learn in a good cooking class. Sofrito is a Spanish word for a delicious and tasty sauce. The Italian word soffritto refers to something which is sauteed, which helps us appreciate what sofrito is. To make sofrito you sautee vegetables and spices.

There are many different types of sofrito sauces. Sofrito is made by mixing tomatoes, garlic, and onions together and cooking them in olive oil in Spain, Haiti, France and Italy. In the Caribbean Islands and Latin America, sofrito also includes roasted peppers and herbs mixed together. Cuban sofrito is very similar to that in the Caribbean and Latin America. Many spices, including bay leaves, cilantro, cumin, and oregano, are added to Cuban sofrito to give it a delicious taste. Puerto Rican cooks also often add bell peppers to this tasty sauce. Sofrito is also often used in Mediterranean cooking.

Sofrito has heart healthy bioactive compounds

There are bioactive compounds present in the Mediterranean sofrito which appear to be associated with lowered risk for cardiovascular disease, as written about in the journal Food Chemistry. Sofrito is a primary component of the healthy Mediterranean diet. This diet is strongly associated with a lowered risk of cardiovascular events. Sofrito contains polyphenols and carotenoids which have beneficial health properties.

The Mediterranean and Nordic diets are good for your heart

A review of this research by Sinc highlights that the combination of tomato, olive oil, garlic and onion which is found in sofrito increases the amount of healthy polyphenols and carotenoids which are present in this tasty sauce. These bioactive compounds respectively may help to prevent cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

A study at the University of Barcelona and the CIBERobn network in Spain, confirmed these findings with sofrito being seen as vital part of the Mediterranean diet. The study has demonstrated the association between the Mediterranean diet and low levels of cardiovascular disease. Denise Reynolds RD writes that the Nordic Diet has also been found to be a heart healthy diet.

The researchers have identified polyphenols and carotenoids, which are both healthy antioxidant substances, in sofrito, with the use of a high resolution mass spectrometry technique. The presence of at least 40 types of polyphenols has been demonstrated. Researcher Rosa María Lamuela has said, “These compounds produced by plants and which we eat are related to reduced cardiovascular diseases."

The bioactive compounds carotenoids and vitamin C have also been found in sofrito. It has been shown in other studies that the consumption of carotenoids such as lycopene prevents prostate cancer. It has also been shown that the consumption of foods which are rich in beta-carotene help to lower the incidence of lung cancer. Lamuela explains that adding sofrito to a daily pasta dish will give you a healthy intake of polyphenols and carotenoids.

Heart disease is America's number one killer

The American Heart Association writes that heart disease has become the number one killer of the American people. Heart disease can be lowered by promoting a healthy diet along with a healthy lifestyle. The American Heart Association offers what has become known as “Life’s Simple 7” steps which can help add years to your life, as follows:

1: Don’t smoke

2: Maintain a healthy weight

3: Engage in regular physical activity

4: Eat a healthy diet

Follow eMaxHealth on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Please, click to subscribe to our Youtube Channel to be notified about upcoming health and food tips.

5: Manage blood pressure

6: Take charge of cholesterol

7: Keep blood sugar, or glucose, at healthy levels

A new national goal has been set by the American Heart Association, which is to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent, and reduce deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent, by 2020.

The American Heart Association says that as part of a healthy diet, an adult who consumes 2,000 calories daily should aim for:

1: Fruits and vegetables: At least 4.5 cups a day

2: Fish (preferably oily fish): At least two 3.5-ounce servings a week

3: Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day

4: Sodium: Less than 1,500 mg a day

5: Sugar-sweetened beverages: No more than 450 calories (36 ounces) a week

Other dietary measures which are recommended include:

1: Nuts, legumes and seeds: At least 4 servings a week

2: Processed meats: No more than 2 servings a week

3: Saturated fat: Less than 7% of total energy intake

The DASH Diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, has also been found to lower the risk of of heart disease, as reported upon by EmaxHealth reporter Tyler Woods Ph.D.

These nutrition suggestions and the goal of the American Heart Association to dramatically reduce heart disease by 2020 are impressive. It is my professional opinion that people often respond better to tasty nutritious suggestions than to suggestions to take drugs to deal with heart disease. The new research which shows that sofrito can be added to a list of heart healthy diet recommendations opens the door to chat about tasty dishes which are made with delicious sofrito with patients. This can of course improve patient compliance with healthy dietary recommendations.

It is also vital to stress the importance of daily exercise to maintain a healthy cardiovascular status. Sometimes it is not as easy to encourage people to get up and get on the move as it is
to entice them to enjoy tasty foods. Discussing the positive feelings that are associated with exercise and the benefits of a trim and fit body can help in this regard.



om nom nom! Those who come from the Middle East most definitely know how to make food that fits a perfect Mediterranean diet!