One of the most popular condiments is salsa. It has replaced ketchup as the No. 1 go-to for many occasions. Salsa is available in many forms at the grocery store ranging from fresh to jarred. While many think of salsa as a spicy addition to foods, it is really quite versatile. With types of salsa ranging from garden fresh to spicy to fruit based, there is a salsa to satisfy every taste bud.
Beyond the great flavors are hidden health benefits. Let’s take a look at fresh salsa. The lime, onions and tomatoes are rich in antioxidants. Those antioxidants promote healthy aging and help prevent heart disease. Since salsa is served raw, the ingredients do not lose any health benefits from being heated.
The fiber content within salsa is a great combo for those with Type 2 diabetes. It becomes a tasty food addition without the added sugar that raises blood sugar. The fiber in the veggies help to maintain stable glucose levels when consumed as part of a healthy meal.
In addition, salsa can be considered hydrating. The tomato in fresh salsa contains 95 percent water. Eating water-dense foods is a good way to stay hydrated on warm days. Since all cells in your body contain water, your body will appreciate the hydration boost from this tasty condiment.
If you choose a salsa that contains jalapenos, you are getting an extra bonus! Jalapenos contain capsaicin, which can increase your body’s fat burning ability, helping to promote weight loss. This is achieved through the boost in metabolism that occurs as the body absorbs capsaicin.
Furthermore, fresh salsa contains quercetin. Quercetin contains both anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. The citric acid from the lime is beneficial in reducing the formation of kidney stones. Finally, salsa is potassium- rich. Potassium is important to our fluid and mineral balance within the body.
Versatility with salsa allows you to adapt homemade recipes to you and your family’s specific likes. Places to consider using it as an addition to meals ranges from breakfast eggs to grilled fish, tacos, chicken or anywhere you feel the flavor benefits a food. Let’s not forget salsa and health chips as a quick snack!
If you have a garden, consider planting basic salsa ingredients: tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro. Even if you do not have the space for a garden, a container garden is a great option. This allows you to gather and prepare salsa with a trip to the store or farmers market. Having base ingredients on hand allows for that spur-of-the-moment decision to add a little of the healthy, yet tasty condiment!
Dr. Dianna Richardson has been serving Jefferson City and the surrounding communities for more than 22 years. She has worked in the field of health and nutrition as a wellness practitioner for more than 30 years. Core to her practice remains use of nutrition to improve health, vitality and quality of life. Richardson holds a doctorate in naturopathy, along with degrees in nutrition and a master’s degree in public health education. She may be found at the Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center, LLC on Dix Road in Jefferson City.
FRESH SALSA (BASIC)
Makes: 8 servings
6 tomatoes, preferably Roma (or 3 large tomatoes)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 serrano or Jalapeno peppers, washed and finely chopped (optional)
3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 avocado diced
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve within 4-5 hours.