Here’s the good news regarding salsa nutrition: at only 20 calories or so per quarter cup, salsa is a dieter’s best friend. But before you start celebrating, there are still a few things to look out for. Here are some ways to beef up salsa nutrition and enjoy this healthy treat with even less guilt.
1. Pick Fresher Salsas
There are many different types of salsa. Pica de gallo, for example, contains only raw chopped ingredients and may be a slightly fresher option than jarred cooked salsas. If you’re a diabetic or have other food sensitivities, watch out for salsas containing corn (which is very high in starch) or similar ingredients.
Salsa already contains a serving of vegetables, which is a good start. If you want to get a little protein as well, look for a Southwest-style salsa including beans, or mix some chickpeas (the healthy base ingredient of hummus) into your favorite salsa.
2. Look Out for Sugars
While salsa is low in calories, a high portion of those calories come from sugars. This is partially because tomatoes themselves are naturally high in sugar. While natural sugars such as those founds in fruits and some vegetables are probably much better for your body than those found in desserts, it’s still important to remember that sugar is sugar.
Some jarred brands of salsa add extra sugar, so scan labels and keep an eye on your intake. This is extremely important if you’re a diabetic trying to substitute salsa into your diet as a healthier snack.
3. Choose Your Dipping Foods Wisely
Tortilla chips and a classic mild salsa dip are a favorite snack for many Americans. The problem is that while the salsa is healthy, the chips are high in calories, sodium and many other less-than-desirable additives. Either set out a finite portion of chips (rather than bringing the whole bag) or choose to dip veggies instead.
Another way to enjoy salsa is in recipes using salsa as a topping or mix-in. You can even use salsa in place of salad dressing! By making recipes with salsa dip, rather than actually dipping, you get all the flavor without the temptation of eating a whole bag of chips.