The USDA testing for salsa does not do a very good job describing the type used. The item is labeled in the National Nutrient Database (NDB) as #06164 "Sauce, salsa, ready-to-serve." Is that fresh salsa you buy in the refrigerated deli section or canned salsa you buy off the shelf? Both are "ready to eat" varieties.We have to dig deeper to find out the answer. NDB item 06164 is under category 6 "Soups, Sauces and Gravies" and from that, we can conclude they are referencing the shelf-stable version in a jar, not the refrigerated variety. Did they test a common brand like Tostito's, Herdez, La Victoria, Chi-Chi's, or Pace? Or something higher end like Frontera, Newman's Own, or Mrs. Renfros? Even though they don't specify, we should assume it was a lower end, more common brand, as that would follow the pattern of the rest of their ORAC food testing. Is salsa healthy for you to eat? Generally not because of its high sodium content. That being said, it is a much lower food when compared to dairy-based dips. In terms of the antioxidants, at around 1000 canned or jar salsa is not particularly high. Fortunately one of the most prevalent antioxidants found in fresh tomatoes, lycopene, is not destroyed by the heat of salsa production. In fact, lycopene is one of the very few antioxidants whose bioavailability (absorption) is actually increased from heating it.
USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2 - Prepared by Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - May 2010