Carbs and Calories in Salsa: Is Salsa Keto-Friendly?


Although the carb counts vary by brand, most varieties of store-bought bottled salsa are reasonably low in carbs and safe to eat (in moderation) while following the Keto diet. 

salsa calories

With that being said, it is important to choose brands with the least amount of added sugar, so be sure to read the label when purchasing salsa. 

Homemade salsa is always best bet as it is more flavorful, so you can get away with using less. When you make your own, it’s also easier to control the amount of added sugar that goes into the recipe (or omit sugar altogether) to keep carb counts low. A sprinkle of sugar-free sweetener is a great substitute for sugar to bring out the flavor and sweetness of the tomatoes.

Salsa is so versatile, it isn’t just for Mexican food.  You can enjoy this delicious condiment a number of ways, which I’ll mention later in this article.  But if you’re like me and you love burritos, quesadillas and tortilla chips with your salsa, don’t worry.  I’ve got you covered.  Check out my other articles, Low Carb Tortilla Chips and Low Carb Mexican Food for some great Keto-friendly Mexican recipes you can enjoy with salsa!

Is Salsa Keto-Friendly?

Most store bought salsas have a low to moderate carb count which means you can have a serving on the Keto diet, just be careful not to overdo it as some varieties may have added sugar.  Always check the ingredients and nutritional information on the label to find a brand that is low in sugar and carbs.

Since you can control exactly what goes into homemade salsa, you can certainly make a low carb salsa. It’s the bottled stuff that sometimes contains more carbs from added sugar.  The salsas that have added sugar are the type to steer clear of when following a low carb diet, like Keto.

The base of most salsas is typically stewed tomatoes.  Tomatoes, though technically a fruit, are Keto-Friendly in moderation.  Fresh plum tomatoes have 4 grams of carbs and two grams of sugar per half cup serving. 

There are 5 grams of carbs in a ¼ cup of canned stewed tomatoes.  The addition of other low carb diced veggies reduces salsa’s carb count overall. 

How Many Carbs are in Salsa?

There are 4 grams of carbs in a ¼ cup of bottled Salsa; and even less if you make it homemade from scratch.

How Many Calories are in Salsa?

There are 17 calories in a ¼ cup of bottled Salsa.

Origin

The history of salsa, a condiment consisting of chilies, tomatoes and herbs, can be traced to the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas. The Spaniards first encountered tomatoes after their conquest of Mexico in the early 1500’s, marking the introduction of Salsa.

Aztec lords combined tomatoes, chili peppers, ground squash seeds, which they served with turkey, venison, lobster, and fish. This combination was first named salsa by Alonso de Molina.

Salsa is a Spanish word meaning sauce. Salsa in North America and other areas refers to any one of the various sauces typical of Mexican cuisine.  These sauces which are mainly used as dips are also known as salsa fresca, hot salsa or salsa picante.

Uses

Salsa isn’t just for tortilla chips.  There are many ways to enjoy salsa on a low carb diet. 

Here are 15 low carb uses for salsa:

  1. With scrambled eggs or in omelettes.
  2. For cooking meat in the slow cooker.
  3. Substitute salsa for salad dressing.
  4. Top grilled fish with salsa.
  5. To spice up bunless hamburgers
  6. Use it as a marinade.
  7. Serve it with shrimp cocktail.
  8. Pour it over grilled veggies, like eggplant or spaghetti squash.
  9. Serve it with low carb chips – like zucchini, beet, kale or baked cheese chips.
  10. Pour it over veggie noodles, like zucchini noodles “zoodles” or cabbage noodles.
  11. Add it to meatloaf or pour over meatballs.
  12. Add a little heat to casseroles.
  13. Serve alongside fresh raw veggies like cucumbers as a dip.
  14. Add it to soups, stews and chili.

Ingredients

salsa keto

Salsa is often tomato-based and includes ingredients, such as lime juice, chilies, onions, peppers, cilantro leaves, herbs and other chopped raw fruits, veggies and herbs.

Other types of salsa may not be tomato-based and can contain other fruit, like pineapple, which can lead to a higher carbs count.  So be careful which type you choose when following a low carb diet and always read the product labels.

Nutrition Facts

Based on a ½ cup of Tomato Salsa (100 grams)
Calories 36
% Daily Value
Total Fat 0.2 grams 0%
Saturated fat 0 grams 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 grams
Monounsaturated fat 0 grams
Cholesterol 0 milligrams 0%
Sodium 430 milligrams 17%
Potassium 270 milligrams 7%
Total Carbohydrate 7 grams 2%
Dietary fiber 1.4 grams 5%
Protein 1.5 grams 3%
Vitamin A 11% Vitamin C 6%
Calcium 1% Iron 12%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 5%
Cobalamin 0% Magnesium 4%

Top 10 Health Benefits of Salsa 

 1. High in Vitamin C

Tomatoes, onions, and lime juice are all great sources of the antioxidant vitamin C. Vitamin C promotes health, preventing decline from aging.  Even better, salsa is often served raw, which is the best way to absorb this important vitamin.

2. High in Fiber

Since salsa is full of fiber, low in sugar, and fat-free, it is an excellent condiment option for people with diabetes.  Salsa is a great way to flavor to food without causing blood sugar spikes.  The fiber, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer, won’t trigger a release of insulin.

3. Helps Hydration

Since tomatoes are made up of 95% water, they are a very hydrating fruit.  It is recommended that adults drink 8 glasses of water per day and eat hydrating foods like tomatoes. Every cell in your body relies on water, so it is vital to stay hydrated, especially if you encounter the dehydrating effects of the Keto diet.

4. Anti-Cancer Properties

Tomatoes contain lycopene, a carotenoid that reduces the risk of cancer.

5. Boosts Metabolism

Spicy foods like jalapenos and chilies frequently found in salsa contain the powerful component, capsaicin. Capsaicin increases your body’s ability to burn fat, revs up metabolism and helps you lose weight.

6. Heart Health

Many studies have shown that chemicals contained in tomatoes are extremely beneficial for heart health. Salsa is fat-free and cholesterol-free and therefore it will not clog arteries with unhealthy cholesterol.  Additionally, the fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and choline in tomatoes are all proven to contribute to heart health as well.

8. Good Source of Potassium

Many individuals, especially in North America and the United Kingdom, eat a lot of processed foods and don’t get enough potassium in their diet. Salsa is a great way to add more of this vital nutrient. Potassium helps regulate fluids in the body and stabilize blood pressure.

9. Contains Phytonutrients and Quercetin    

Tomatoes, because of their various phytonutrients, can reduce the risk of blood clots. Quercetin is another vital antioxidant, found in both onions and tomatoes, that offers both anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effects.

10. Alkalizing / Good Source of Citric Acid

Limes used in salsa provide many health benefits. One perk to eating limes is they help alkalize the body and neutralize the acidity of other foods when added as an ingredient.  If the tomatoes in salsa give you heartburn, the addition of a liberal squirt of lime will combat this effect. The citric acid in lime sounds menacing, but it is actually a healthy organic acid that prevents kidney stones, among other ailments.

Spicy Homemade Low Carb Salsa Recipe

Homemade salsa using fresh produce and herbs is so much more flavorful than store-bought bottled salsas, therefore a little goes a long way.  You can make a keto-friendly salsa with fresh plum tomatoes. However, that method requires a bit more preparation, as you will need to blanch, peel, and deseed the tomatoes before you adding them to your salsa. 

But don’t fret.  If time is of the essence, canned tomatoes work just as well, and you won’t be able to tell much difference.

With the following basic ingredients, you can make your own keto-friendly salsa at home: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large white onion chopped
  • 3 roasted jalapeños
  • 2 green chilies (diced)
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro or other fresh herbs of choice (optional)
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes or 1 and ½ cups of fresh roasted plum tomatoes (or you can use a combination of both if you prefer.)
  • fresh lime juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon of pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of natural sugar-free sweetener of choice (I like Stevia) or more to taste.
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or cayenne pepper (to taste)

Instructions:

  1. Wash and dry your jalapeños and chilies. Before you roast your jalapeños make sure you remove the husk which is inedible. (If you are using fresh plum tomatoes instead of canned, no not peel – leave them whole before roasting.  The skins are easier to peel after they are roasted.)
  2. Roast the jalapeños and tomatoes at 400 degrees in the oven or on an open barbeque outside.  Do not add any oil to your vegetables as they should be dry-roasted.
  3. After roasting the jalapeños, they can be de-seeded and diced. If you like your salsa spicier, you may wish to retain the seeds for added heat.
  4. Chop tomatoes coarsely once roasted.
  5. Dice onion, cilantro and any additional herbs you wish to add (fresh basil, oregano, etc.).
  6. In a large bowl mix together the stewed or canned diced tomatoes, onion, jalapeños, tomatillos, cilantro, lime juice, salt, paprika and/or cayenne pepper.
  7. Serve your keto salsa as a dip or use it in your favorite recipes.  The remainder can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (or longer if sealed in air-tight mason jars). 

Melissa Marshall

A litigation paralegal and writer. Her first novel debuts this fall. She lives with her kitten, Zoey overlooking the waterfront in beautiful Dartmouth, Nova Scotia - also known as the “City of Lakes”.

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