Salsa Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

bowl of fresh salsa

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Salsa is a low-calorie, nutritious condiment that offers a big boost of bright flavors to many dishes. While many varieties of salsa are made from different ingredients, the most common is tomato-based with onions, peppers, garlic, and cilantro

Salsa is primarily carbohydrates with a small amount of protein and little to no fat. It is an excellent condiment to add when balancing calories because it offers so much flavor for little calories and no cholesterol or saturated fats.

However, some brands can contain quite a lot of sodium or sugar, so read labels carefully. As a staple for Mexican and Tex-Mex inspired dishes, salsa is available at most grocery stores. It also is simple to make at home. 

Salsa Nutrition Facts

A 2-tablespoon (35.7-gram) serving of salsa provides 12 calories, 0.5 grams of protein, 2.4 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of fat. Approximately 77% of salsa's calories are from carbs. The following nutrition information is from the USDA.

  • Calories: 12.1
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 234mg
  • Carbohydrates: 2.4g
  • Fiber: 0.6g
  • Sugars: 1.4g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Vitamin A: 8.6mcg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.6mcg
  • Potassium: 92.1mg

Carbs

Salsa is primarily made of carbohydrates with 2.4 grams per 2-tablespoon serving, equating to 77% of total calories. The same serving of salsa provides 0.6 grams of fiber, which is approximately 2% of your daily value based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.

There are 1.4 grams of total sugars in a serving of salsa, which is approximately 3% of your daily recommended value. Salsa also is considered low on the glycemic index. Different brands will contain varying amounts of sugar, so check labels carefully.

Fats

Salsa contains very little fat, with only 0.06 grams per two-tablespoon serving. There is no saturated or trans fat in salsa. You may wish to add fat to your meal in order to better absorb the carotenoids present in salsa.

Protein

There is little protein in salsa, with only 0.5 grams per serving. As a plant food, the protein content is not a complete protein source.

Vitamins and Minerals

Salsa contains several vitamins and minerals from tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs. It is exceptionally high in lycopene and contains smaller amounts of vitamin A.

Even though lycopene is a carotenoid, it isn't a precursor to vitamin A like beta-carotene. There are 2182.7 micrograms of lycopene in salsa. Other nutrients provided in good amounts in salsa include potassium, vitamin E, and vitamin B6.

Calories

Salsa is considered a low-calorie food. A 2-tablespoon (35.7-gram) serving of salsa provides 12 calories, 77% of which come from carbohydrates.

Health Benefits

Fresh salsa is refreshing, hydrating, and a great way to add more flavor—and nutrients to your food. What's more, this powerhouse of ingredients can provide a number of health benefits due to its lengthy ingredient list of fresh vegetables (and fruits).

May Help Fight Free Radicals

Research indicates that the antioxidants present in salsa may help to fight cancer-causing free radicals. For instance, lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes that offers protective effects against free radicals.

May Prevent Prostate Cancer

Also, due to the high lycopene content, salsa may help prevent prostate cancer. Lycopene has been shown to have protective effects against prostate cancer.

The effects are dose-dependent, meaning the more lycopene, the better. The cancer-fighting effects have been demonstrated in consuming tomatoes that are whole, cooked, or in a sauce like salsa.

May Protect Against Metabolic Syndrome

Oxidative stress is an underlying cause of the metabolic syndrome. Lycopene has been shown to counteract the effect of oxidative stress and its risk factors. These risk factors include cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol. 

May Help Decrease Blood Pressure

Potassium contained in salsa may help balance sodium and lower blood pressure. But it shouldn't be your sole source of potassium. A tablespoon of salsa only provides 92.1 mg or just under 2% of your daily needs (4,700mg per day). Better to pair this with beans to increase not only the potassium but the protein content of the salsa. Potassium helps relax blood vessels, counteracting the effects of high salt intake.

Research has found that those with the highest potassium intakes had a 20% lower risk of dying than those with the most inadequate potassium intakes. Keep in mind that salsa can contain a fair amount of sodium, so choose brands with lower amounts or make your own for the best benefits.

May Aid Bone Health

Salsa contains some calcium and magnesium, which are essential for bone health. The potassium in salsa also aids bone health by neutralizing acids that might negatively affect bone mineral density.

Allergies

Each brand of salsa will contain different ingredients, so check the labels for any known food allergies. If you are allergic to tomatoes, garlic, peppers, or onions, avoid salsa.

Also, if you are allergic to grass pollen, you may be allergic to tomatoes as well. Anaphylaxis due to an IgE-mediated response—as with a typical food allergy—has been observed from eating cooked onions.

Adverse Effects

Salsa is an acidic food that may aggravate heartburn or acid reflux in some people. If this is a common problem for you, you may wish to avoid eating salsa.

Likewise, onions contain fructans which are avoided by people following a low FODMAP diet for irritable bowel syndrome. They may cause abdominal pain, bloating, and gas in susceptible people.

Varieties

There are many types of salsa aside from the traditional tomato-based variety. These include green salsa made with tomatillos and jalapenos, corn salsa, bean salsa, and avocado salsa.

Fruit varieties also exist. The fresh version of salsa is often called Pico de Gallo, which is easy to make at home.

Storage and Food Safety

Store salsa in the fridge and be aware of the expiration date. Check the bottle for any signs of spoilage, such as mold or rancid smells.

The shelf-life of salsa also will depend on how it was prepared. Fresh salsa from the deli in your grocery store may not last as long as salsa from a bottle.

How to Prepare

Salsa is a very versatile condiment. It can be eaten as a dip or as a topping for many foods such as enchiladas, tacos, burritos, eggs, casseroles, and more.

Some people even use it as a topping for fish, steak, or chicken. Perhaps the most common use for salsa is as a dip for tortilla chips.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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