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Salsa is one of those nutritious foods that everyone seems to love. Several years ago, I read somewhere that salsa had replaced ketchup as the most-used condiment. Homemade is best for you, but most store-bought salsa is pretty healthy.
Salsa is a great low-fat snack, and many of its ingredients have multiple benefits for athletes. For example, tomatoes are full of antioxidants, lycopene and vitamins A, B and C; and onions have been documented to boost immune response and inhibit the accumulation of fat. According to research, another member of the onion family, garlic (bad breath aside) can prevent colds, fight cancer and prevent hypertension. Like your salsa on the spicier side? Good, because chili peppers and jalapeños contain the active ingredient capsaicin, which generates heat to increase heart rate and metabolism, helping your body burn calories.
But with a base of just tomatoes, an onion, spices and peppers, salsa doesn't always fill you up, especially after a hard day of training and practice. Upgrade your store-bought salsa with this quick and easy method to make it healthier and heartier. (Learn how you can eat Mexican to repair your muscles.)
Choose your favorite brand of salsa. (I like Costco's Peach Mango Salsa for its sweet flavor. It's loaded with tomatoes, peppers, onions, peaches and mangoes.) Add a 15-ounce can (drained and rinsed) of both black beans and corn. Mix well and enjoy.
Simple salsa combined with black beans and corn provides a good blend of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, fiber and lots of other micronutrients. Want to boost your salsa even more? Throw in some diced avocado. Research has shown that avocados help the body absorb nutrients from other food sources (like tomatoes, onions, black beans and corn), plus they lower cholesterol and provide additional heart-healthy fat. Learn more about the benefits of avacados for athletes.