As a registered dietitian nutritionist who works the food industry, I love food. I love all foods – from deliciously roasted mixed vegetables, to fresh fruit, to perfectly baked fudge brownies. So when it comes to recommendations on taking care of our health, I always focus on maximizing, not limiting. What foods can we eat more of for health rather than limiting foods. What can fill or plate with to create better balance?
When it comes to heart health, I recommend focusing on getting in more of these four things:
Feast on Fiber
Fiber is in plant foods – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes. Soluble fiber in these foods soaks up water and absorbs cholesterol in the digestive track to help carry it out of the body. Insoluble fiber moves food through the digestive track, making our guts healthy and happy. Together, both types of fiber help reduce the risk of heart disease.
The high fiber ingredient in this blackened fish taco recipe are the tortillas. Either 100% whole wheat tortillas or corn tortillas are both excellent whole grain sources of fiber.
Heart Healthy Fats
Choosing heart healthy fats over not-so-heart healthy fats is an excellent way to promote heart health. Mono and polyunsaturated fats are beneficial for our heart health. Monounsaturated fats include olive oil, avocados, nut butters, nuts and seeds. These have been shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats (specifically omega-3 fatty acids) are found in walnuts, flax meal, chia seeds and fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel. These are shown to lower inflammation, boost brain health and prevent plaque buildup in the arteries.
Making swaps such as avocado spread instead of butter or smoked salmon instead of bacon can decrease the risk for heart disease. This recipe includes both mono and polyunsaturated fats with the avocados and salmon!
Up your Antioxidants
Antioxidants are in a variety of fruits and vegetables including green leafy vegetables, kale, spinach, broccoli, arugula and berries. There is no “perfect” way to get antioxidants, so the best way is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables full of color each day. Antioxidants improve heart health by reducing cholesterol, improving blood flow, and reducing inflammation.
Add a little color to each of your meals and snacks to increase your antioxidant intake. This recipe has antioxidants from tomatoes, red onion and pineapple!
Flavor with Herbs & Spices
Rather than harping “limit your salt” (I know you’ve heard that before), I’d rather emphasize all of the sodium free herbs and spices that we can use to enhance the flavors of our foods. Choosing herbs and spices rather than salt can help reduce blood pressure and help blood pump easily through the body.
Flavor enhancers in this recipe are cajun spice, pepper, cilantro and lime – that’s a lot of flavor without any added sodium!
Now it’s time to show your heart some love by enjoying these easy heart-healthy blackened fish tacos!
Heart Healthy Blackened Fish Tacos
Show your heart some love by enjoying these easy heart-healthy blackened fish tacos! Flavored with cilantro, cajun spice, lime and pepper and full of heart healthy fats these tacos are sure to please a crowd and your heart.
For the Salmon
- 1 lb salmon
- 1 tbsp cajun spice
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
For the Salsa/Serving
- 1 cup pineapple diced
- 2 avocados diced
- 1/4 cup red onion diced
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1/4 cup cilantro freshly chopped
- 4 tortillas corn or 100% whole wheat
Cook the Salmon
Season all sides of salmon with pepper and cajun spice
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
Once the oil is hot, add the salmon
Cook until deeply golden on one side (about 5-6 minutes), then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the salmon is opaque
Let rest and cool slightly, then flake into large pieces
Make the pineapple avocado salsa by mixing all salsa ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine
Season or flavor with more lime juice or cajun spice to taste
Assemble tacos with salmon, salsa and cilantro.