Freshly-chopped tomatoes star in this Mexican part-condiment, part-dip that’s entirely delicious. But is salsa good for you? We’ve lined up all of the salsa nutritional information you need to reap all of the health benefits of eating salsa.
Slightly bitter salsa verde, bright salsa roja, and fresh, tangy pico de gallo. No matter which type you choose, eating salsa provides the flavor party your mouth deserves.
This Mexican favorite is excellent on tacos, salads, or as a table starter with salty corn tortilla chips.
But is salsa healthy for you?
This tasty treat contains fresh tomatoes and other nutritionally-dense ingredients, making this dish an excellent part of any diet. Read more about salsa facts on nutrition below and the best pairings for a healthy salsa snack or meal.
What is Salsa?
Salsa, a central part of Mexican cuisine, simply translates to “sauce” in English.
There are two main types of salsa:
- Salsa roja, or red salsa, tends to include cooked tomatoes, chili peppers, garlic, onion, and cilantro.
- Salsa cruda, or pico de gallo, or fresh salsa, contains uncooked jalapenos, onion, tomatoes, and cilantro.
They’re often used as a table dip or as a condiment to top almost any dish, including fish, meat, potatoes, and bean dishes.
Top 5 Salsa Health Benefits
Salsa nutrition is pretty top-notch. It may taste decadent, but it’s mostly just a mixture of healthy veggies that can help you hit your vegetable intake goals, which should be about 2-3 cups daily.
Salsa calories are virtually non-existent, sitting at about 10 kcal per 2 tablespoon serving. It also contains a load of micronutrients that we’ll get into below.
#1: Flavonoids and Lycopene
Tomatoes are a nutrient powerhouse, full of plenty of nutrients for disease prevention. Flavonoids are anti-inflammatories, which help to fight everyday sources of inflammation.
Tomatoes are rich in flavonoids and one of the scarce dietary sources of lycopene, an antioxidant that helps break down free radicals, reduce cell damage, and slow premature aging of the body.
#2: Vitamin C
Salsa is a triple threat - tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos all contain vitamin C, which is especially helpful during cold and flu months as an immune booster.
Vitamin C also helps protect your cells from damage and build healthy, vital tissues throughout your body.
#3: Vitamin A
This essential vitamin helps to keep your vision in tip-top shape and helps you to detect small amounts of light, which allows you to see at night. Vitamin A also helps maintain healthy thyroid and immune system function.
Both tomatoes and jalapenos contain high levels of vitamin A.
#4: Vitamin E
Tomatoes contain one-fifth of your RDA of vitamin E. This powerful antioxidant helps fight free radicals, premature aging, and supports immune function while making your skin, nails, and hair healthy and glowing.
Many American diets can be a little short on this mineral, so up your intake by eating some potassium in salsa. This vital mineral helps regulate body fluid balance and nerve signals in the body, and helps protect your body against many diseases.
Watch out for Sodium
While salsa is unquestionably healthy, there is one potential drawback to the food - many commercially-made varieties are high in sodium.
The suggested daily limit of sodium sits at 2300 mg by the FDA, and prepared salsas generally contain between 90-270 mg per two-tablespoon serving, which can add up pretty quickly.
Keep your servings small, opt for a low-sodium variety, or make homemade salsa instead so you have total control over exactly which ingredients go into your salsa.
Things to Eat with Salsa
The list of what not to eat with salsa is shorter than the dishes that pair well with this delicious condiment. Here are a few of our top pairings to enjoy this savory classic.
Chips and salsa are a no-brainer. The ultimate chip for dipping in any kind of salsa is the classic corn tortilla chip. To lighten up your diet with some healthy chips for salsa, try an oven-baked version of the tortilla chip, which is usually lighter in oil and contains less fat.
#2. Eggs or Tofu
Salsa is a fantastic addition to any breakfast and a great way to up your veggie intake at the first meal of the day.
Place a dollop of salsa on your scrambled eggs and serve with whole-grain toast and refried black beans, or top an over-easy, hash brown bowl with a scoop or two.
If you don’t eat eggs, try adding salsa to a tofu scramble with black salt instead - the many tofu health benefits will up the nutrition of your breakfast and keep you full for hours.
Topped grilled or pan-roasted tilapia, salmon, cod, or trout with fresh pico de gallo, and toss in some sweet mango if you have some, for an irresistible sweet-acidic combo.
You can also simmer fish right in the pan with a splash of vinegar and salsa so that the flavor cooks right into the dish.
Fresh salsa is delicious on freshly tossed greens or chopped cucumber, avocado, and corn salads.
The ultimate salad, the taco salad, is the very best - who isn’t excited to eat a salad topped with chips and salsa?
Final Verdict: Nutritional Value of Salsa
Salsa is absolutely healthy, no matter the type you choose. It’s no surprise, as the main ingredient in salsa, tomatoes is a superfood in its own right.
Between potassium, flavonoids, lycopene, and vitamin C, A, and E, this nutrient-dense food will help to keep all of your bodily systems functioning optimally while giving you a massive dose of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
Whether you eat it on fish, eggs, tofu, or with some tortillas, watch out for sodium content and enjoy this delicious condiment guilt-free!
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