Yes, really, it is. Tomato is one of the most important components of the Mediterranean diet, mainly because it is part of the sauce that accompanies most vegetables (and meats) in the Greek cuisine. The famous lathera which is basically vegetables cooked with a tomato forming a sauce or the kokkinista which is the same thing although it usually refers to meats cooked with tomato sauce. The sauce is made with tomato, olive oil, onion and sometimes garlic, oregano or spices.
A similar sauce is the the sofrito and the Spanish version in particular, resembles the Greek one. It also contains tomato, olive oil, garlic and onions but also peppers and is prepared the same way: lightly sautéing the ingredients in a pan and then slowly simmering with tomato.
And of course Italy has dozens of tomato based dishes and sauces as well.
Well I always knew this tomato-olive oil sauce was important (that is why I named my blog olive tomato right?), but now research supports it too. A group of Spanish researchers were able to identify for the first time 40 different kinds of polyphenols (types of antioxidants) using mass spectrometry technique with high resolution, (a mass spectrometer measures the masses and concentrations of atoms and molecules). The researchers analyzed prepared sofrito, but mentioned that homemade ones would have a similar result as they contain the same ingredients.
Imagine, eating a dish of let’s say beans or okra which have their own antioxidants and along with that, the tomato sauce getting an additional 40 antioxidants (or more). And you can make this yourself, which is pretty easy. Check out how to make the Greek lathera one here.
The study was published in the journal Food Chemistry.