The 10 Unhealthiest Store-Bought Salsas

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There are so many ways to enjoy salsa, from topping nachos to using it as a salad dressing. The best part is that this savory sauce can be healthy. Healthline explains that salsa is an excellent source of vitamin C. Ingredients like tomatoes and other herbs and spices provide antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory compounds. As a bonus, you get dietary fiber that helps speed movement along your gut and keep you healthy.

Although salsa is generally a healthy food choice, you must look closely at the label if you're getting it from stores. Like most processed and packaged foods, some of these store-bought sauces may not be all that great for your body. Consumers should worry about sneaky ingredients like artificial flavoring or preservatives — which typically aren't the best for your body — being added to extend the product's shelf life. Some salsa brands have little nutrition to offer. On top of that, they can contain a lot of salt or sugar. Luckily for you, we've rounded up the 10 unhealthiest store-bought salsas. This way, you can make better choices about your diet and health.

1. Newman's Own Medium Mango Salsa Chunky

At first glance, one would hardly suspect that there's anything wrong with Newman's Own Medium Mango Salsa Chunky. It has regular ingredients like tomato puree, diced mangos, bell peppers, and onions. This sauce has nothing shady like artificial flavoring or preservatives, so it's easy to miss the red flags. But if you examine this product's nutrition label, you'll get why it's on this list.

Just two tablespoons of Newman's Own Medium Mango Salsa Chunky contain 240 milligrams of sodium. Keep in mind that the United States Food and Drug Administration recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. This means you get over 10% of your daily sodium intake from a small serving size, and if you're not paying close attention, it's easy to go overboard. Newman's Own Medium Mango Salsa Chunky also has one of the highest amounts of sugar per serving for store-bought salsas, with 5 grams of sugar per serving.

2. La Victoria Medium Fire Roasted Salsa Verde

La Victoria Medium Fire Roasted Salsa Verde has all the familiar items you might use to make a great salsa, like tomatillos, jalapeño peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro. But it also has sodium benzoate, which makes this sauce different from your home recipe. It's a standard compound in processed foods, but some consumers are wary of this chemical additive.

Healthline shares that sodium benzoate is a common chemical used to keep your food fresh, used only in small amounts deemed safe. However, this compound may also be linked to inflammation, oxidative stress, cancer, and in some cases, allergies. If you're worried about this food ingredient, you're better off choosing one of the many other store-bought salsas that don't include it. The saltiness of La Victoria Medium Fire Roasted Salsa Verde is another concerning issue. At 250 milligrams of sodium per serving, this sauce is definitely on the high side, especially for anyone looking to regulate their salt intake.

3. Tostitos Chunky Salsa Mild

If you look at the label on Tostitos Chunky Salsa Mild, you'll be disappointed to find that it's surprisingly devoid of nutrition, so this sauce brings little to no value to your meal. Tomatoes are typically one of the primary ingredients needed for making salsa. According to the USDA, they're a rich source of many essential nutrients, like iron, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. This is why it comes as a surprise that there isn't a significant amount of these nutrients in this salsa.

This salsa is also too salty, containing 250 milligrams of sodium per serving. Consuming excessive sodium in foods like this is unhealthy and negatively affects the heart. Harvard warns that salty foods raise the risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular diseases. In addition, excessive sodium intake can impact other areas of the body, including bone and kidney health. If your doctor has already put you on a strict low-sodium diet, this salsa is certainly off-limits.

4. Pace Chunky Salsa Medium

Pace Chunky Salsa Medium is one of the least healthy options in-store. For a salsa containing crushed tomatoes as the first ingredient, it lacks all the nutritional goodness of this piece of produce, like vitamin C, iron, or vitamin A. Your gut won't be too happy about this sauce either, as it has less than 1 gram of fiber — a nutrient that helps maintain regular bowel movements.

The most critical reason Pace Chunky Salsa Medium is unhealthy is that it has 230 milligrams of sodium in just 2 tablespoons. It is hard to see why someone would choose this brand as it fails to impress nutritionally and in terms of flavor, often needing additional ingredients to elevate its flavor. But if you ever get your hands on Pace Chunky Salsa, remember to watch your portion sizes while eating, so you don't consume too much salt.

5. Herdez Salsa Casera Hot

Herdez Salsa Casera Hot hopes to bring authentic Mexican delight to your table, and for the most part, people seem to like it. Unfortunately, despite being a top pick for flavor, this sauce isn't impressing anyone with its nutritional value. For one, the only available nutrient is vitamin C and it comes in a very small amount. This sauce also lacks dietary fiber, which helps your digestive system function properly. A journal article published in Nutrition Reviews explains that dietary fiber may also help protect the heart while reducing the risk of health conditions like stroke and diabetes.

Another negative quality of Herdez Salsa Casera Hot is how salty it is. At 270 milligrams of sodium per serving, it's one of the highest listed here. This product shouldn't be consumed by anyone looking to keep their salt intake in check, especially those with certain health conditions.

6. Desert Pepper Trading Company Salsa Del Rio Medium

Regarding nutrient availability, Desert Pepper Trading Company Salsa Del Rio Medium is pretty decent. It has about 2% of your daily recommended dose of calcium, 6% of vitamin C, and 2% of your daily iron. While this isn't an impressive nutritional profile, it beats most others on this list. But don't get your hopes up for dietary fiber, because it has only 1 gram of fiber per serving.

We are less impressed by this salsa, thanks to its salt content. Two tablespoons of this salsa contain 290 milligrams of sodium. That's already 12% of what you should have for the entire day, and if you go for seconds, the numbers keep adding up. If you want to avoid the many detrimental effects of excessive sodium on your health, stick to the low-sodium sauces from this company, like the Peach Mango Salsa, or try a different brand altogether.

7. Great Value Mild Thick & Chunky Salsa

Walmart stocks the affordable but tasty Great Value Mild Thick & Chunky Salsa. While saving a buck here and there can be handy, is getting this brand worth all the nutrients you'll miss? Besides a bit of vitamins A and C, this salsa offers nothing else, as other vitamins and even minerals like potassium, iron, or calcium are absent. 

The only good thing about Great Value Mild Thick & Chunky Salsa is that it has no added sugars, but it doesn't make up for the next challenge. Like many other unhealthy store-bought salsas, this sauce fails to keep its salt content in check. Even though 230 milligrams of sodium might seem modest compared to others on this list, it's far from being okay. This product still gives you 10% of your salt limit for the whole day in one small serving, and getting a generous bowl of this salsa will push your intake higher. It's even more problematic for people who must keep their sodium consumption low on doctor's orders.

8. Aplenty Mild Fire Roasted Double Tomato Salsa

Aplenty's Mild Fire Roasted Double Tomato Salsa excellently delivers a sweet, smoky flavor. But many fans might be clueless about how this delicious sauce may affect their health. First, lose all hope of getting any form of nutrition from Aplenty's Fire Roasted Double Tomato Salsa. It doesn't have any calcium, iron, vitamin D, or fiber, despite listing tomatoes as the first, second, and third ingredients.

Then there's the massive issue of salt content. Aplenty's Mild Fire Roasted Double Tomato Salsa has 240 milligrams of sodium per serving, which is not just unhealthy, but limits the inclusivity of this product. Anyone with a health condition requiring moderate sodium intake would have to look elsewhere. Even if you aren't on a specific low-sodium diet, it'll be hard to stomach this salsa with this degree of saltiness. One consumer commented, "It's not bad for the first few bites, but then the ridiculous amount of salt becomes too much to ignore. After a while, the salt was all I could taste."

9. Trader Joe's Salsa Autentica

Trader Joe's takes the simple route with its Salsa Autentica recipe, by sticking to the essentials. The only ingredients in it are tomato puree, yellow chili peppers, salt, vinegar, dried onion, and garlic powder. No chemical additives, preservatives, or artificial flavoring are in sight. But all these great points don't cover this brand's unhealthy side.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 90% of people in the U.S. eat more sodium than they should daily, most of which comes from processed foods, including store-bought salsas. Trader Joe's Salsa Autentica has 250 milligrams of sodium per serving, which is undoubtedly excessive for anyone looking to keep track of their intake. If you're the type that loves to indulge in salsa, you're just a few more spoons away from getting too close to the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams. Furthermore, Trader Joe's Salsa Autentica won't contribute much to your overall health, as it's devoid of crucial vitamins and minerals that keep your body functioning correctly.

10. Ortega Medium Homestyle Salsa

Here's a tip: if the sodium content per serving runs into several hundred milligrams, but there's hardly any other nutrient on the label, that's a bad sign. This is the main problem with Ortega Homestyle Medium Salsa. Although it's in the name, this sauce is missing all the nourishing benefits of a true "homestyle" salsa. Authentic salsa contains rich vegetables and herbs, making it a nutritional treasure that feeds the body and promotes overall health. On the other hand, Ortega Homestyle Medium Salsa has enough sodium in one serving to meet 11% of your total limit for the day, while neglecting every other nutrient.

The only other thing on the Ortega Homestyle Salsa label is 2 grams of carbohydrates, while the rest, including iron, calcium, vitamin A, along with vitamin C, are negligible. At this point, you're better off avoiding this salsa entirely or, better still, whipping up your tomato salsa at home.