Salsa – whether for a family gathering or to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, this ancient sauce dating back to Aztec civilization, is always a welcomed addition to any meal.  No matter how frequently you may use salsa, to officially celebrate this cherished dish, the month of May is the time to do it.  May has been designated as National Salsa Month making it a perfect time to flex your culinary creativity by experimenting with different salsa recipes.  Of course no one says May is the only time to cheer on salsa. Any time of year is perfect for enjoying delicious varieties of salsa from around the world.

What is salsa?

The word salsa is the Spanish term for “sauce” and no surprise but salsa is very good for us.  Salsas are actually a condiment intended to add flavor to other foods and can be used either fresh or cooked.  Whenever we dip a chip into the robust, spicy medley of ingredients salsas may be composed of, our taste buds are delighted beyond measure.

Here in the United States, most of us tend to think of “salsas” as a concoction made with tomatoes, onions and chilies.  But salsas actually can be a blend of an array of many delicious ingredients – not only tomatoes, onions, and chilies, but also sweet red peppers, chili peppers, black beans, corn, avocadoes, peach, mango, lime, and cilantro, just to name a few.

For some of us, maybe the only time we have this condiment is when we have “chips and salsa.”  However, salsas have far more uses than that.  Since salsas are known for their intense flavors and colors, depending on the ingredients, salsas can be scrambled with eggs, dished as a garnish for chicken and fish, and even served as an ice cream topping.

Salsas’ nutritional profile 

All those delicious and nutritious veggies, fruits and spices mean only one thing – you are consuming eating a health food providing quite the nutritional kick.   Here are some of the more common nutrients you will find in most salsas:

  • Vitamin C

The main ingredients often found in salsas – tomatoes, and peppers – are rich sources of vitamin C.  Salsa made with one cup of diced tomatoes and 1 pepper contains about 43 milligrams of vitamin C.  Vitamin C or ascorbic acid, produces collagen, protects cells from damage, helps absorb iron, helps in wound healing and strengthens the immune system.

  • Vitamin A

Tomatoes and peppers once again are the main suppliers of vitamin A.  Vitamin A is necessary for healthy vision, skin and mucous membranes, bone and tooth growth and immune system health.

  • Capsaicin

This chemical found in peppers is what makes them spicy and plays a role in the treatment of some health conditions.  Consuming capsaicin can help relieve indigestion and stomach pain and might protect against developing ulcers.  To really turn up the heat and the capsaicin content, add liberal amounts of jalapeno peppers to your salsa.

  • Fiber

All those fresh veggies and fruits are going to give you much needed fiber.  Fiber provides bulk to the diet keeping bowel movements regular and can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and some cancers along with improving digestive health – is there anything fiber doesn’t do?

Celebrate salsa year round with easy recipes

To get you in the mood of celebrating salsa year round, here is a terrific website featuring 15 different salsa recipes. You’ll be amazed at the variety of recipes to suit whatever inkling you desire in whatever salsa mood you’re in.  Enjoy and happy salsa month!

Categories: Health

Cheryl Mussatto

Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Institutional Management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for Cotton O’Neil Clinics in Topeka and Osage City, an adjunct professor for Allen Community College, Burlingame, Ks where she teaches Basic Nutrition, and is a blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi and, an online market place connecting nutrition experts with customers worldwide. She can be contacted here.

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