Mild, medium, or hot. That's all most people think about when eating salsa. However, a group of researchers at the University of CaliforniaBerkley found that the spicy sauce may have another use.
What the researchers wanted to know: There's a compound in salsa that can kill bacteria... what is it?
What they did: The researchers at UCBerkeley had found in earlier studies that salsa can kill bacteria. So they went about finding the specific compound with antibacterial properties. From the mush of tomatoes, green onions, and chilies, they picked out cilantro and bought the chemicals already known to exist in cilantro leaves and seeds. They tried each chemical out on bacteria in the lab.
What they found: The compound dodecenal, found in cilantro leaves and seeds, is lethal to salmonella, a major cause of food poisoning.
What this means to you: Dodecenal and other natural antibiotics found in fresh cilantro and salsa could theoretically be used as food additives or in antibacterial soap, if anyone cared to do a lot more research on them.
Caveats: Don't think adding a little greenery will make that day-old chicken safe to eat raw. To get in on the antibacterial action, you'd probably have to eat the same weight of cilantro as meat.
Read the article: Kubo, I. et al. Antibacterial Activity of Coriander Volatile Compounds Against Salmonella Choleraesuis. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, June 2, 2004, vol. 52, pp. 3329-3332.