Southern culture is full of tall tales. Stories told as if they were true but exaggerated for excitement and entertainment shared during the fall around a campfire or during a hayride. And while those over-dramatized accounts give us goosebumps, deep down, we know they’re fiction.
Sadly, the tale of a killer on the loose, causing one in four deaths, is anything but an exaggeration. Cardiovascular disease —including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—remains the #1 killer of adults in the United States.
More than 700,000 Mississippi adults have high blood pressure (Hypertension), and thousands more may be at risk. Hypertension is known as the “silent killer,” because it has no symptoms and can cause health problems if it continues over time without treatment. Fortunately, managing your weight, exercising daily, and eating a healthy diet, such as the DASH diet (keep reading), are lifestyle changes you can make today that will help protect you against heart problems tomorrow.
DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, emphasizes eating ample fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods while also lowering salt intake. Research confirms the DASH diet can reduce blood pressure as much as some medications. The bottom line is that when you increase your fruit and vegetable intake, your blood pressure often decreases. As a registered dietitian, finding more ways to get more plants into your day is a no-brainer.
Chances are you could use a few extra servings of plant-based foods in your diet, considering only about 5% of Mississippians meet their recommended intake of fruits and vegetables daily. It’s good to know that a serving of raw fruit or vegetables equals 1 cup and a ½ cup for cooked varieties. Keep cooked vegetables healthy by seasoning them with salt-free spices, choosing no-salt-added canned varieties, and using olive oil over bacon grease. It is easy to hit the heart-protective mark if you follow these guidelines and include produce at every meal and snack.
Vegetables aren’t the only food group with heart-protecting properties. Fish and seafood are good sources of muscle-building protein, heart-protecting omega-3 fatty acids, and are naturally low in saturated fats, which may increase your risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, or catfish, twice a week. From the Mississippi Gulf Coast to the Delta catfish ponds, the Magnolia State has plenty of heart-healthy seafood and fish to offer you.
You don’t have to check under your bed for this boogie monster. Everyone should prioritize knowing our blood pressure, and if it’s high, make controlling it our primary goal. Keeping your blood pressure in check will reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke. If you haven’t already, make time to get your blood pressure checked. And, enjoy these catfish tacos. They are packed with flavor and fiber while low in sodium and saturated fat, making them heart-friendly.
And, I tell ya, “That fish was so big, it nearly sank the boat when I pulled it in!”
- 1 pound catfish fillets
- 8 tortillas, flour or corn
- Low-sodium creole seasoning
- 1 cup shredded green cabbage
- 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
- ¾ cup shredded carrots
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/3 cup sliced green onions
- ¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- Coat a skillet with oil and allow it to get hot.
- Place low-sodium creole or preferred blackening season in a shallow baking dish. Roll the catfish in the seasoning until well coated.
- Reduce the skillet to medium-high and cook fish until cooked through (145F internal temperature), turning once, about 5-6 minutes on each side.
- Spread the fish on a plate, leave whole or flake into bite-size pieces with a fork.
- In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw dry ingredients.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients: mayonnaise, honey, vinegar, and salt.
- Pour as much dressing over the coleslaw as desired. (Store extra dressing in the refrigerator).
Assemble tacos as desired.