Is Salsa Good For You?

So good in so many ways…

With the rise in the rates of diabetes and other health issues caused or affected by our diets, people are choosing to make and eat healthier snacks. Rather than reaching for the chips and dip, they’re reaching for chips and salsa. But is salsa good for you? Well – chip choice aside – it turns out that salsa might be better for you than you ever imagined.

The main ingredients: Tomatoes, onions, and chilies

Most people use the same three basic ingredients to make salsa—tomatoes, onions, and to give it a little zing, chili peppers. Of course, you can add many other ingredients depending on your tastes, like garlic and cilantro, but even just the basic three provide a lot of nutritional value. Not only that, but they’re all low in calories as well.

Tomatoes contain multiple vitamins, including C, E, and A, as well as potassium and flavonoids, which are nature’s anti-inflammatories. Most importantly, they are one of the few foods in the West that contain the anti-oxidant lycopene. Lycopene helps absorb free radicals that can damage our cells and contribute to the effects of aging, and some studies have shown that it may help reduce cholesterol.

Although people tend to think of onions as a flavor enhancer, they actually add a lot more than just flavor. They provide some essential nutrients like biotin, chromium, folic acid, and calcium. Vitamins B1, B6, C, and K are also included in this flavorful low-calorie vegetable.

Chili peppers add some spicy goodness to salsa. Just how much spicy goodness depends on the kind of chili pepper. Their spiciness is measured in Scoville heat units that range from 0 to 2,000,000+! Nutritionally, though, peppers all share analgesic and anti-bacterial properties (via the compound capsaicin), as well as being rich in minerals like manganese, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Besides vitamins B1, B6, C, and A, they also contain flavonoids B-carotene, lutein, and cryptoxanthin. Cryptoxanthin is a pro-vitamin that the body converts to retinol, which stimulates DNA cell damage repair.

Low-calorie and easy to make, salsa is rising fast. The sheer number of great new salsa recipes is a testament to its growing popularity as a healthy alternative to sugary snacks. Is salsa good for you? The answer is a resounding yes. Now, of course, consider the chip selection you’re serving with it…

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on September 5, 2019 to include new content.
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