Is Chimichurri Sauce Healthy? Ingredients & What NOT to Include.

Last Updated: February 20, 2024

In the world of culinary delights, few sauces can claim the versatility, flavor, and nutritional benefits of chimichurri. Originating in Argentina, this vibrant and herbaceous sauce has captivated taste buds around the globe. While it’s renowned for its bold flavor, chimichurri’s health benefits often go unnoticed.1

This article will delve into the science behind this mouthwatering sauce, dissect the common recipe, and explore what makes chimichurri a healthy addition to your culinary repertoire. We’ll also provide essential tips on what to avoid to make your chimichurri even healthier.

The Common Chimichurri Recipe

Chimichurri is typically made with a simple yet delightful combination of fresh herbs, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and spices. Here’s a breakdown of the most common chimichurri recipe:2

What You’ll Need – Ingredients:

  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Red Pepper Flakes (If you want it a little bit Spicy)
  • Salt and Pepper

Cooking Recipe:

  • Fresh Parsley (½ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley): Parsley forms the base of chimichurri and provides a vibrant green color and fresh flavor. It’s rich in vitamins A and C, essential for immune health and skin maintenance.
  • Fresh Oregano (2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano): Oregano contributes to chimichurri’s aromatic and earthy notes. It’s packed with antioxidants like rosmarinic acid, which may reduce inflammation and protect against oxidative stress.
  • Garlic (4-5 garlic cloves, minced): Garlic infuses the sauce with its pungent, savory essence. It contains allicin, a compound known for its potential cardiovascular benefits and immune-boosting properties.
  • Red Wine Vinegar (½ cup red wine vinegar): Red wine vinegar offers acidity and tanginess to balance the flavors. It’s a source of acetic acid, which may aid digestion and promote blood sugar control.
  • Olive Oil (¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil): Extra virgin olive oil lends richness and smoothness to chimichurri. It’s a heart-healthy fat, high in monounsaturated fats and polyphenols, which have been linked to various health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease.
  • Red Pepper Flakes (according to taste): These add a hint of heat and depth to the sauce. Capsaicin, the compound responsible for the spiciness, may have metabolism-boosting properties and help with pain relief.
  • Salt and Pepper (1 teaspoon): These seasonings enhance the overall taste of chimichurri, but moderation is key, as excessive salt intake can lead to health issues like hypertension.

Health Benefits of Chimichurri

Antioxidant-Rich Herbs:

Fresh parsley and oregano are abundant sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants help combat oxidative stress in the body, which is linked to chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and aging. The high vitamin C content in parsley further supports skin health and immune function.

Parsley and Oregano Antioxidant Function – Journal of Antioxidants

According to a review of the literature published in the Journal of Antioxidants in 2017, revealed that Parsley and Oregano have the highest amounts of flavonoids and that their consumption may contribute a significant portion of the plant antioxidants found in the human diet.3

Allicin from Garlic:

Garlic, a superstar in chimichurri, contains allicin, a bioactive compound with potential health benefits. Allicin may help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and boost the immune system. It’s also been associated with improved cardiovascular health.4

Allicin Garlic Health Benefits – Journal of the Nursing Clinics of North America

To prove the varying benefits of Allicin in garlic, a study published in the Journal of the Nursing Clinics of North America in 2021, showed that the health benefits of allicin in garlic include the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, antioxidant effects, antimicrobial effects, and reduction of cancer risks. However, it’s pivotal to always use fresh garlic to make sure that you get the most benefits from allicin.

Heart-Healthy Olive Oil:

Extra virgin olive oil, a cornerstone of chimichurri, is renowned for its heart-healthy properties. It’s rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to reduced inflammation, improved cholesterol levels, and enhanced cardiovascular health. Additionally, the polyphenols in olive oil have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Extra Virgin Oil and Reduced Risks of Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality – BMC Medicine Journal

As proven by this 2014 study, which was published in the Journal of BMC Medicine, extra virgin olive oil has a therapeutic effect on the heart especially for patients with heart diseases and cholesterol.

In fact, the authors of this study concluded “For each 10 g/d increase in extra-virgin olive oil consumption, cardiovascular disease and mortality risk decreased by 10% and 7%, respectively. No significant associations were found for cancer and all-cause mortality.”5

Red Wine Vinegar ‘Digestive Aid’:

Red wine vinegar a common acidifier in chimichurri, offers more than just tanginess. It contains acetic acid, which may aid digestion by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. This can lead to better gut health and improved nutrient absorption.

The Benefits of Red Wine Vinegar in Helping with Digestion and Depression – Journal of Food & Function 

In 2019, a study in the Journal of Food & Function investigated the effects of daily red wine vinegar supplementation for 8 weeks on 45 healthy adults at increased risk for metabolic complications. The results revealed that daily red wine vinegar ingestion for 8 weeks induced significant improvements in glucose homeostasis and improved glycemic control which in turn helps in the process of digestion.6

That being said, new studies are also linking red wine consumption with improving mood and alleviating depression.7

Weight Management from Red Pepper Flakes:

The red pepper flakes that add a kick to chimichurri contain capsaicin, a compound with thermogenic properties. Capsaicin may boost metabolism and help with weight management. Additionally, it has been shown to have pain-relieving properties and may provide relief from certain types of discomfort.

Red Pepper Weight Management, and Pain Relief – Journal of Bioscience Reports

As published in 2017 in a review study in the Journal of Bioscience Reports, it was revealed that dietary chili peppers and Capsaicin from red pepper consumption reduce body weight and its potential mechanisms of anti-obesity effects.8

Moreover, another study published in 2020, in the Journal of Psychiatria Danubina, highlighted the effects of Capsaicin in effective durable pain relief and reduction of intensity and area of pain in adult patients with chronic pain all the while offering additional improvements in sleep, fatigue, depression, and quality of life have been noticed.9

Balance of Macronutrients:

Chimichurri achieves a balance of macronutrients – healthy fats from olive oil, carbohydrates from herbs, and a touch of protein from garlic. This combination makes it a satisfying and nutritious addition to your meals.10,11

Culinary Versatility:

Beyond its nutritional benefits, chimichurri’s versatility deserves recognition. It can be used as a marinade for grilled meats, a dressing for salads, or a condiment for sandwiches and tacos. This adaptability makes it easy to incorporate into various diets and meal plans.

What NOT to Include – Making Chimichurri Healthier

While chimichurri is undoubtedly a healthy sauce, there are some considerations to ensure it remains so:

  • Moderation with Salt: Limit the amount of salt you add to your chimichurri. Excessive salt intake can contribute to high blood pressure and other health issues. Use a light hand, and consider alternatives like herbs or citrus for flavor enhancement.12
  • Watch the Oil: While olive oil is a healthy fat, it is calorie-dense. Be mindful of the quantity you use, especially if you’re watching your calorie intake. A little goes a long way in terms of flavor and texture.13
  • Balance the Heat: If you enjoy the spiciness of chimichurri but want to reduce its heat, consider using milder red pepper flakes or using them sparingly. Capsaicin sensitivity varies from person to person, so adjust to your taste.
  • Freshness Matters: The quality of your ingredients matters. Use fresh herbs and high-quality olive oil to maximize your chimichurri’s health benefits and flavor.
  • Dietary Restrictions: If you have dietary restrictions or allergies, be sure to adapt the recipe accordingly. For example, if you’re sensitive to garlic, you can omit it or substitute it with garlic-infused oil for a milder flavor.
  • Preservatives and additives: According to the National Institutes of Health citing several studies, preservatives can cause health issues such as asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), heart difficulties, cancer, obesity, and others. Some food additives may interfere with hormones and influences growth and development.

NutriChimi – Our Healthy Flavorful Chimichimurri Sauce

If you want to go for convenience and health without losing freshness, we would like to recommend our premium branded product: NutriChimi.

Made with freshly harvested ingredients from the fertile lands of Southern California, NutriChimi was scientifically created to offer a bold, delicious unique flavor that sticks to the palate memory of hundreds of people who tried it.

Besides, it is made of fresh, organic ingredients. We used no artificial additives or preservatives to ensure a healthy, home-made like delicious chimichurri. This is how we ensure our mission at Food-Med.com – Healthy and Flavorful.

Plus, NutriChimi is made FRESH in a small business commercial kitchen rather than a factory. It is prepared by humans and not machines –ingredients that are hand-picked, parsley and garlic that are hand-chopped, and packages that are hand-packed.

Here’s how NutriChimi compares with other brands:

Other Brands NutriChimi
Made in factories. Carefully prepared by hand in a small business commercial kitchen to ensure quality.
Added preservatives and extra fat for higher shelf-life and longer storage. All natural with no preservatives. Contains ~60% less fat than other brands, with only high-quality olive oil used. Expires in 4 weeks (refrigerated).
Unknown source with unknown food-processing. Farm-fresh, unprocessed, organic ingredients locally sourced from Southern California.
Made in batches. Made fresh. Expires in 4 weeks (refrigerated).

The Bottom Line

Chimichurri is a shining example of how culinary artistry and nutritional science can converge. Its blend of fresh herbs, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil provides an array of health benefits, from antioxidant-rich herbs to heart-healthy fats and metabolism-boosting spices.

By following the common chimichurri recipe and making mindful adjustments, you can savor this flavorful sauce while optimizing its health advantages. So, next time you fire up the grill or prepare a refreshing salad, consider drizzling some chimichurri for a burst of taste and wellness on your plate.

 

References:

  1. Authentic Chimichurri (Uruguay & Argentina) – Cafe Delites [Internet]. [cited 2023 Sep 24]. Available from: https://cafedelites.com/authentic-chimichurri-uruguay-argentina/
  2. Hansen Foods | Health & Wellness | Articles | Try a Healthy Argentinian Favorite: Chimichurri [Internet]. [cited 2023 Sep 24]. Available from: https://www.hansenfoodshart.com/health_wellness/articles/363/try-a-healthy-argentinian-favorite-chimichurri
  3. Yashin A, Yashin Y, Xia X, Nemzer B. Antioxidant Activity of Spices and Their Impact on Human Health: A Review. Antioxidants [Internet]. 2017 Sep 1 [cited 2023 Sep 24];6(3). Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC5618098/
  4. White D. Healthy Uses for Garlic. Nurs Clin North Am [Internet]. 2021 Mar 1 [cited 2023 Sep 24];56(1):153–6. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33549282/
  5. Guasch-Ferré M, Hu FB, Martínez-González MA, Fitó M, Bulló M, Estruch R, et al. Olive oil intake and risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality in the PREDIMED Study. BMC Med [Internet]. 2014 May 13 [cited 2023 Sep 24];12(1):1–11. Available from: https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1741-7015-12-78
  6. Jasbi P, Baker O, Shi X, Gonzalez LA, Wang S, Anderson S, et al. Daily red wine vinegar ingestion for eight weeks improves glucose homeostasis and affects the metabolome but does not reduce adiposity in adults. Food Funct [Internet]. 2019 Nov 1 [cited 2023 Sep 24];10(11):7343–55. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31647087/
  7. Johnston CS, Jasbi P, Jin Y, Bauer S, Williams S, Fessler SN, et al. Daily vinegar ingestion improves depression scores and alters the metabolome in healthy adults: A randomized controlled trial. Nutrients [Internet]. 2021 Nov 1 [cited 2023 Sep 24];13(11). Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC8622118/
  8. Zheng J, Zheng S, Feng Q, Zhang Q, Xiao X. Dietary capsaicin and its anti-obesity potency: from mechanism to clinical implications. Biosci Rep [Internet]. 2017 Jun 6 [cited 2023 Sep 24];37(3). Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC5426284/
  9. Derry S, Rice ASC, Cole P, Tan T, Moore RA. Topical capsaicin (high concentration) for chronic neuropathic pain in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2017 Jan 13;2017(1). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28085183/
  10. Venn BJ. Macronutrients and Human Health for the 21st Century. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 Aug 1 [cited 2023 Sep 24];12(8):1–3. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC7468865/
  11. Espinosa-Salas S, Gonzalez-Arias M. Nutrition, Macronutrient Intake. StatPearls [Internet]. 2023 Aug 8 [cited 2023 Sep 24]; Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK594226/
  12. Hunter RW, Dhaun N, Bailey MA. The impact of excessive salt intake on human health. Nat Rev Nephrol [Internet]. 2022 May 1 [cited 2023 Sep 24];18(5):321–35. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35058650/
  13. Tome-Carneiro J, Crespo MC, de las Hazas MCL, Visioli F, Davalos A. Olive oil consumption and its repercussions on lipid metabolism. Nutr Rev [Internet]. 2020 Nov 1 [cited 2023 Sep 24];78(11):952–68. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32299100/

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