Is Salsa Good For You?We have all tried Salsa at least once in our lives. Some might consider not taking that route again but, for people like me its always been - "OMG! Where can I get more?"
Salsa, though a Spanish word, is a popular Mexican condiment that is used mostly as a dip or sauce. It comes in different varieties, which vary by region. However, the ingredients may not vary widely.
Whether you prefer salsa cocida or adada, which are subclasses of salsa Roja or traditional tomato and jalapeno are your favorites; generally its taste is irresistible. Many people know salsa as a flavor, but very few are aware of the health effects. And the big question may be, “Is salsa good for health?”
In this piece, we look at the health benefits that you obtain from salsa which include;
Source of vitamin C
Generally, fruits are known as sources of antioxidants such as vitamin C. Salsa contains 17.6 mg of vitamin C in every 100 g. This equals its recommended daily intake value. Most foods in our diet are always cooked, and as a result, vitamin C is destroyed because it is heat-labile. Salsa, which is served raw, therefore, acts as a good way of replenishing our body stores of the vitamin.
Why vitamin C? It is essential in the repair of blood vessels, which is central in the fight against heart disease. Again, it is involved in the manufacture of collagen and maintenance of the skin, thus promoting healthy aging. Also, its antioxidant property helps prevent oxidative stress and cell damage by free radicals.
Stabilizes blood sugar
Salsa contains high amounts of fiber, which naturally occurs in the plant cell walls. The fiber lacks fat or sugar that is usually associated with diseases such as obesity. It, therefore, serves as a healthy way of adding flavor to your food without any risk of elevated blood glucose(sugar) levels. For type 2 diabetes patients, this a huge milestone in improving lifestyle and diet.
Water is life, and it is advised to take eight glasses per day to remain healthy. However, this may be difficult to keep up with. An effective way of supplementing your water intake is through salsa. Did you know that over 90% of tomato’s weight is water? Now you know what a single salsa serving can add to your body water profile.
The main ingredient of Salsa is tomatoes which have nearly 80% of it's weight coming from the water content. So, it keeps our body hydrated.
For cells to remain turgid and functional, water is crucial. You must, therefore, strive to take the right amount per day. If you find it tasteless to drink, supplement with sweetened sources like salsa.
Rich source of lycopene
Lycopene is the bioactive form of carotenoid that is typically found in red-fleshed foods such as tomatoes, grapefruits, and many others. Tomato ranks top in the list of lycopene sources. Fights against Cancer - Carotenoid lycopene is a substance that has proven to decrease the chances of having Cancer. Some of the proven health benefits of lycopene include;
- Improved skin resistance to UV rays, thereby reducing the risk of radiation-associated skin cancers and other problems like sunburns.
- Scientific reviews have indicated that lycopene plays a role in preventing the development of prostate cancer.
- Increased intake of the nutrient is associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome development.
Research shows that lycopene is more bioavailable in cooked or processed tomatoes than fresh ones. Consequently, salsa that often uses cooked vegetables acts as a rich source of the micronutrient.
Salsa increases metabolism
Several studies across the world has proved that eating spicy food increases metabolism. Capsaicin is a compound found in peppers and chilly which gives it the fiery taste. They are capable of increasing the metabolism more than the normal rate. The most simple evidence for this is how we sweat when we eat spicy food. This increase in metabolism means that more calories are burned by your body.
Salsa is a spicy food which means that it contains high amounts of Capsaicin. So it's a no brainer that Salsa will indeed increase your metabolism.
Helps in burning fat
As we saw earlier, Salsa increases metabolism which in turns burns calories in our body. When we intake Capsaicin, it triggers the fat burning enzymes in our food. Enzymes are produced by our saliva and other glands to digest the food we eat. So, when we eat Salsa fat burning enzymes work overtime and force the belly fat to burn itself up. It can also soothe our cravings to have sugary food items.
For health and aesthetic reasons, many people have drawn a battle line against excess body fat. Numerous methods ranging from surgery to diet modification, have been employed to bring conditions such as obesity under control.
Salsa offers an alternative way of losing weight through its constituents. Jalapenos in fresh salsa, for example, are abundant in capsaicin. Besides giving jalapenos their spicy nature, capsaicin also enhances weight loss by increasing the body's ability to burn fats.
Healthy for the cardiovascular system
One of the dreaded components of animal foods is cholesterol. This is because of the associated complications, including coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis in other blood vessels. However, salsa is purely plant-based and hence does not contain the bad cholesterol. This makes it healthy for the heart and cardiovascular system in general.
Despite the high nutritive content of salsa, it contains very few calories. For instance, a serving of salsa, which is usually two tablespoons, will supply less than ten calories, and this has little to no impact on your body weight. You can, therefore, enjoy all your favorite foods topped with salsa and not worry about any adverse effects.
Source of potassium
Even though potassium is an essential mineral, a large proportion of our population does not take adequate amounts. This is attributed to the increased intake of highly processed foods that are deficient in the mineral. Most adults face a deficiency of potassium. Potassium is essential to maintain the mineral balance in our body and control blood pressure. Salsa is rich in potassium which can be used to eliminate such deficiencies. Unrefined foods such as salsa offer an excellent way of keeping our body potassium at the optimum levels.
Potassium is a significant regulator of water and mineral balance in the body. Proper fluid and mineral balance is necessary for maintaining blood pressure within the normal range, thus preventing hypertension and its complications. Salsa is, therefore, crucial in keeping you healthy.
Similar to vitamin C, quercetin is another antioxidant that is richly found in salsa. Onions and tomatoes are the primary sources. Besides, the antioxidant property that is essential in protecting body cells from oxidative damage, quercetin has other beneficial effects. These include anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antihistamine effects. This is to say; salsa will also serve some functions of drugs like NSAIDs taken for pain relief.
Supplies your body with citric acid.
Lime has numerous benefits to the body. However, the one worth pointing out in this discussion is the supply of citric acid. Taking salsa, in which lime is used, can be a good substitute for using citric in porridge. Citric acid is associated with protection against kidney stones.
Tomatoes and onions are rich in Quercetin, which is an anti-oxidant. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties i.e. ability to relieve pain and calm body. As Salsa is reach in both tomatoes and onion, it can be said without doubt that it is anti-inflammatory.
Why does Salsa make me poop?
Salsa as mentioned earlier is rich in Capsaicin. This substance can aggravate TRPV1 receptors in our body. There are many such receptors spread throughout our body. They are responsible for many functions including maintaining the temperature. When high temperatures are detected due to the intake of Capsaicin, these receptors flag our brains to induce pain.
The TRPI receptors in our intestines cramp up due to the pain and speeds up digestion. Unfortunately, your anus also has these receptors and thats why you feel the heat when you poop after having spicy food.
Where is Salsa from?
Well, history has that the origin of 'Salsa' can be traced all the way to the Aztecs and even Mayans. These were early civilizations in Mexico 2000 BC to early 16th century. The Inca people who lived in South America during 1500s created the Salsa sauce we know today.
Salsa is a processed food
By definition, any food that is cooked, canned, frozen etc. And Salsa definitely comes under that category. But, organic salsa is a healthy snack even though its under the 'processed food' category.
A lot of organic salsa is available in the market today. These are great alternatives to unhealthy snacks. They are low in calorie and high in Vitamins. Specifically, Salsa is rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin A. These vitamins can trigger the production of collagen in our bodies. Increased levels of collagen will improve your skin and regulate the production of thyroid hormones.
With Salsa, you can have healthy snacks that taste good. Which brings me to my next question
What can you have with Salsa?
The classic combo for Salsa is - Tortilla chips. But that's not the only combination. Adding it to our simple meals will elevate the taste and make them healthier. They can be added to omelettes, salads or steamed vegetables.
Here it is a list of recipes that you can have with salsa:
Tomato soup: To add a bit of spice to your soup, add some Salsa and grated cheese.
Meatloaf: Ditch the tomato ketchup and add Salsa instead to make a deadlier creation.
Boiled Rice: Give your rice a burrito twist. Swap half of water for Salsa sauce and cook your rice in a spicy mixture. It can be served with a non-veg or veg option.
Omelette: With your usual bacon and cheese, add a bit of Salsa to turn your dull omelette into a tastier dish.
Salads: Fed up of your salad dressings? Why don't you try some Salsa next time you whip up a salad? It'll go great with both vegetarian or non-vegetarian salads.
Steamed vegetables or chips: Well why use processed sauces when you give your taste buds a treat? Serve steamed veg or fresh potato chips with a Salsa dressing and see the magic!
Best Salsa to buy
There are tonnes of Salsa available in the market. However, stick to the organic ones as they are the healthier options.
Here is a list of the three best options available:
La Victoria Suprema Salsa is a delicious onion free Salsa. On a spicy radar, it rates medium spicy so it can be enjoyed by everyone.
Goya Mild Salsa Pico de Gallo. Produced by the great Mexican brand Goya, this is a crossover between Pico and Salsa. It has a watery based compared to other options and is an ideal candidate for cooking rice or meat loafs.
Trader Joe's Hot Pico De Gallo Salsa. Only one advice - make sure you buy the 'spicy' version. Its simple mouthwatering and will burst in your mouth.
But, let's admit the truth none of these store bought ones compare to freshly prepared Salsa.
Want to know how to make Salsa at home?
Here is simple method to make a fresh tomato Salsa.
The main ingredient is of course, tomatoes (2 cups). Other ones include, peppers (1/2 cup), jalapenos (2-3 medium), garlic (1 clove), lime juice, onion (1/4 cup) and cilantro (few tablespoons). In a bowl, finely chop the ingredients mentioned above. Once finished, taste and add salt and pepper to your preference. Add a little bit of olive oil to make it a bit richer. Voila, DIY Salsa is ready.
Despite the nature of your favorite food, salsa will flavor it. You get a spicy taste and seasoned food without the use of any additive. Besides, the taste, salsa has a myriad of health benefits to offer. These include minerals and vitamins supply with healthy blood vessels notwithstanding.