Salsa is not only a common favorite among sauces and spicy foods, but it’s also a healthy one.
Salsa can actually protect and prevent you from getting sick, thanks to its many potent and disease-fighting ingredients, chief among which is cilantro.
Cilantro is one of the most common ingredients in this popular Mexican condiment, and it contains a compound that kills salmonella bacteria. Salmonella is a frequent and sometimes deadly cause of food-borne illness. Who knew a little salsa could stop it in its tracks?
According to research conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, the powerful, bacteria-destroying compound within cilantro is dodecenal, which is extracted from cilantro leaves. Researchers were surprised to learn that dodecenal is the only natural antibacterial agent thus far known to be more effective than gentamicin, a powerful antibiotic medication that used to be prescribed by doctors to combat salmonella. Laboratory tests have proven dodecenal to be two times as potent as gentamicin.
Cilantro seeds have actually been tested by traditional “food as medicine” practitioners to prevent dysentery for years. Many compounds in cilantro, which combine for a more powerful effect, have similar abilities. Other salsa ingredients also have antibacterial components, including tomatoes, onions and green peppers. Studies suggest that people should eat more salsa with their food, especially fresh salsa.
The truth is that it is probably near impossible to eat as much cilantro as you would need to offer adequate protection against food poisoning, but based on this research at least we know that dodecenal is a safe, natural food additive that can help to prevent food-borne illness.
We may even see some new development in the food industry to reproduce or mass-produce this compound since it has proven so naturally effective against salmonella. Until that time, a little cilantro wouldn’t hurt – better yet, it will help and wow your taste buds in the process.
Make Your Own Salsa
For a simple, homemade salsa, you will need 2 pounds of tomatoes, a large onion, 1 or 2 red or yellow bell peppers, 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, a tablespoon of lime juice, chopped cilantro and salt. Peppers (especially the hot kind) have a special power all their own to fight disease, so add more for a spicier taste and more health benefits.
Using a vegetable chopper, finely chop all the vegetables. Add lime juice and salt until you reach your desired flavor. This dish will last for about a week once refrigerated. You can add more peppers as needed or experiment with the different types of peppers to create your own signature flavors. If desired, you can lightly cook the vegetables, especially tomatoes, to amplify some of their healthy effects. Enjoy!