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Nutritional Benefits of Salsa: Discover the Health Value of this Spicy Sauce.

Updated on June 9, 2014
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As a certified health and wellness coach, I love discussing food, health benefits, and how to keep weight in check.

Salsa Up!
Salsa Up!

Salsa the dance or salsa the sauce? As a food lover, I would opt for Salsa, the condiment any day. Salsa is the Spanish word for sauce and it invariably consists of chilies, tomatoes and spices. You can trace the history of Salsa back to the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas. The Spaniards encountered tomatoes after conquering Mexico from 1519 to 1521, which consequently marked the beginning of history of salsa. Aztec lords have long use a combination of tomatoes, chilies, ground squash seeds and other spices to make a sauce condiment to compliment their meat dishes like turkey, venison, lobster and fish. It was Alonzo de Molina who first coined the word, “salsa,” in 1571.

Since then, salsa has gained popularity and in 1962, the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink first mentioned the term, “Salsa.” Salsa is a delightful spicy sauce that serves to bring out the flavor of food and is often used with tortilla chips as well. It is easy to fall in love with this appetizing sauce and no one is surprised when the sales of salsa surpassed America’s staple, ketchup, in 1991.


Apart from pleasing our taste buds, salsa is actually a very healthy food, when you consider the ingredients used. Let’s consider its nutritional breakdown:

1. Tomatoes

These bright red tomatoes are almost synonymous with salsa. Scientific evidences have shown us the advantages of including tomatoes in our diet. Anthocyanins, a potent group of antioxidants are responsible for the bright red pigment and as all antioxidants go, they make powerful scavengers of free radicals, preventing cellular damage. As such, they are great cancer busters.

Another super flavonoid, Lycopene is found in abundance in tomatoes. A recent report from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources revealed that lycopene can reduce risks of prostate cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Another researcher from Ben-Gurion University even goes so far as to suggest that lycopene may have a protective effect against UV skin damage. He contends that Lycopene in the diet may provide internal protection from sunburn as opposed to sunscreen that can only offer external protection.

What else does this red jewel of nature offer? Plenty of nutrients—high levels of Vitamin C, significant amounts of Vitamin A, B vitamins including niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, chromium, folate and fiber.

Pick Your Favorite Chilies.
Pick Your Favorite Chilies.

2. Chilies

Jalapeño is my chilies of choice in salsa, although you can add just about any kind of chilies, even dried red chili pepper flakes. This hit of spice gives salsa a kick and an edge, a hot sexy appeal, if you will, very much like the Salsa dance.

Chiles is a well-known thermogenic spice, that is, it naturally raise metabolic rate, which is very good news for dieters and weight watchers. Its active ingredient, capsaicin, generates heat and also increase heart rate when consumed—both of which help to burn calories.

There is more promising evidence of chilies as an effective weight control food. In a Japanese study, 13 women who ate breakfast foods with red pepper (like southwestern omelet?) ate less than they normally eat at lunch. Why? Apparently, capsaicin suppresses appetite.

If weight control is not your main concern, consider other good qualities of chilies: They are good sources of Vitamins A, C and E, rich in folic acid and potassium, low in sodium and naturally fat free.

3. Onion

Raw onions are crisp and pungent in a wonderful sort of way. Another indispensible ingredient of salsa, the health benefits of onion has been documented since the days of pyramid building when workers were given onions to boost their immunity. The health benefits are so abundant that The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of onions for the treatment of poor appetite, the prevention of atherosclerosis, the treatments of coughs, colds, asthma and bronchitis. Now, that‘s a handful!

However, that’s not all. One of its potent antioxidants, Quercetin (also found in red wine, apples, grapefruit, green vegetables and beans) is also a fat-buster. A remarkable work published by the University of Georgia revealed that Quercetin inhibits fat accumulation in maturing fat cells in culture, while also suppressing new fat cells maturation and triggering the death of existing fat cells at the same time.

4. Lime Juice

Lime juice lends more than a touch of tanginess—it boosts high levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, potassium, folic acid and flavonoids. Its high acidic levels are effective in inhibiting and killing cholera in food. Studies show that it can also lower cholesterol as well as reduce risks of various cancer.

5. Olive oil

Though high in fat content, it’s mainly the good kind—monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which is effective in lowering bad cholesterol, while raising good cholesterol. Olive oil is also believed to facilitate the uptake of nutrients, so a touch of olive oil can help your body absorbed all the health benefits of the various ingredients discussed above.

6. Garlic

Some love a little garlic. Garlic breath aside, garlic can boosts health in many ways. Various researches reveal that it can prevent common ailments like cold, fight cancer, prevent hypertension and even heal impotence.

Whoever invented Salsa is a genius and we’ve much to be thankful for—all the incredible health boosters in one appetizing side dish. And just 36 calories per servings (100 g) and a mere 2 g of fat--what a way to eat!

Copyright @ Angeline Oppenheimer


Of course, salsa doesn't have to be the same old boring basic salsa, try topical fruits salsa or seasonal fruit salsa. Playing with different fruits can give your salsa an interesting twist.

Health benefits of incorporating different colors in your diet : Read

Plum Salsa is a great way to plump up your bone density: Read

How to Make Mango Salsa :

Try Easy Home-Made Salsa--a snap and totally delicious :

Other interesting related readings:

Health benefits of Quercetin :

Health Benefits of Limes :

What is your favorite condiment?

See results

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