Traditional tomato and jalapeño, or even mango or strawberry: Whichever type you prefer, salsa is one of the world’s most popular condiments. And it turns out it’s also a nutritional powerhouse.
Fresh salsa is one of the best ways to add more flavor to your food while also delivering essential (and tasty!) nutrients. With all the health benefits salsa boasts, you can add an extra serving to your favorite foods. There’s no need to hold back!
In case you need more encouragement add a salsa kick to your meals, here are 10 reasons your body will thank you for eating more salsa.
1. It's a good dose of vitamin C
Lime juice, onions, and tomatoes are all rich sources of the antioxidant vitamin C. Vitamin C helps prevent heart disease and promotes healthy aging. It’s not heat stable, so foods can cause lose this nutrient when heated. But salsa is often served raw, which is especially helpful for absorption of vitamin C.
2. It can stabilize blood sugar
Fiber is found naturally in the cell wall of plants, and salsa is full of fiber without any fat or sugar. This is a winning combo for anyone with type 2 diabetes who is looking to add flavor to their food without raising their blood sugar. Fiber helps us feel satisfied after we eat, and it won’t trigger a release of the body’s insulin.
3. It’s hydrating
Over 95 percent of a tomato’s weight comes from water. It’s important for adults to drink eight glasses of water per day and to eat water-rich foods like fruit and tomatoes. Every cell in your body relies on water, so adding more salsa to your routine can help your body work more efficiently.
4. It may protect against cancer
Tomatoes contain the carotenoid lycopene, which has been linked to reduced risk of cancer. Tomatoes aren’t the only type of produce that contains lycopene, but they’re credited for approximately 80 percent of the lycopene in the diet of Americans.
5. It will help you burn fat
The jalapenos frequently found in fresh salsa get their spice from a powerful component called capsaicin. Capsaicin can increase your body’s fat burning ability, which promotes weight loss. To learn more, check out this dietitian-backed guide on eating to boost your metabolism and lower your blood sugar.
6. It’s healthy for your heart
Dietary cholesterol comes from foods that come from animals. Salsa only contains ingredients that are from plants, and it’s naturally cholesterol-free.
7. It’s low in calories, but full of flavor
One serving of salsa is 2 tablespoons, which is on average less than 10 calories. Feel free to top all of your favorite foods with salsa. There’s no need to limit your portions.
8. It contains potassium
Most American adults don’t eat enough potassium-rich foods. Potassium helps us regulate our fluid and mineral balance. It’s a vital factor in regulating our blood pressure, as well. Most processed foods fall short of our potassium needs, so salsa is another way to fill this gap.
9. It’s a good source of quercetin
Quercetin is another type of antioxidant that is found in both onions and tomatoes. It has been found to have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antihistamine effects.
10. It gives you a dose of citric acid
Limes used in salsa provide many health benefits. One standout benefit is that they are high in citric acid. Among other perks, citric acid can naturally protect against kidney stones.
Whether you’re eating salsa on scrambled eggs, grilled fish, tacos, or any of your other favorite dishes, it’s a great addition to any meal! Not only will it provide numerous health benefits, but it’s also a perfect way to season your food without adding salt, sugar, or fat.
So feel free to keep your refrigerator stocked with this healthy condiment. Your health — and taste buds — will thank you!
Lori Zanini RD, CD, is a nationally recognized, award-winning food and nutrition expert. As a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, she helps others learn how to use food to manage their blood sugar and improve their lives! She is the author of Eat What You Love Diabetes Cookbook and is featured regularly in the media, including LA Times, CNN, DoctorOz.com, SHAPE, SELF, Forbes, and others.
For more delicious, diabetes-friendly recipes, visit to her website at www.LoriZanini.com or follow her on Facebook.com/LoriZaniniNutrition