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Eating healthy good for the heart

Friday 24 February 2017

Heart disease is the biggest killer of Kiwis every year, and Asher Regan, a nutritionist with the foundation, is helping to promote eating healthier to reduce the strain on our tickers.

“What we eat has a big impact on our health, so we encourage people to enjoy foods that are good for their health so they can live life to the full,” Regan said.

Regan, who has been with the charity for 5 years, spent 15 years working as chef, working in Wellington, Auckland, Japan and Scotland.

“Being a chef is hard, so I wanted to find something that was mentally challenging, a little less physically challenging but still stay involved with food,” he said.

It was with this in mind that Regan spent five years at Otago University, receiving his Masters in Nutrition and learning about the need to eat healthy.

“Getting a balanced diet is the most important thing. Eat lots of natural food products or minimally processed at least.”

Fish is one of those foods.  It is a good source of omega-3 fats, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.

“We recommend that to get sufficient omega-3 for a healthy heart you need to eat fish or seafood twice a week, preferably oily fish,” he said.

“Omega-3, particularly from seafood sources, is incorporated into cell membranes of almost every cell in the body. Our bodies can’t make these fatty acids very efficiently; therefore we need to consume them as part of our diet.”

Luckily oily fish are easy to find in New Zealand.

Tasty recommendations from the Heart Foundation include; tuna, kahawai, trevally, kingfish, dory, salmon, squid, mussels and oysters.

You will also see volunteers out on the street asking for donations to continue funding research into heart disease.

Heart Foundation Medical Director Gerry Devlin said this is the charity’s largest fundraising and awareness campaign of the year. 

“While we have seen a dramatic reduction in deaths from heart disease over the past 40 years, more than 6,000 people die from heart disease every year in New Zealand,” Devlin said.

“That figure is almost 20 times the 2016 road toll. Clearly, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done in terms of bringing down such a high number of deaths each year."

Recipe: Steamed salmon wrapped in nori with a seaweed salad

Don't be fooled by appearances, this delectable dish inspired by Japanese flavours is actually really easy to prepare.

Makes 4 serves

Steamed salmon

  • 500g boned salmon fillet
  • 4 nori sheets
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp mirin

Seaweed salad

·       1 cup shelled edamame beans

·       8 small umeboshi plums

·       1 cup fresh coriander, roughly torn up

·       2 small radishes, thinly sliced

·       1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

·       1 cup seasoned Japanese seaweed salad

·       1 tbsp rice vinegar


  1. Cut your salmon fillet into 125g portions
  2. Place each piece of salmon on top of one nori sheet
  3. Mix together the miso, mirin and rice vinegar
  4. Spread this mixture over the top of the salmon
  5. Gently and slowly wrap the nori around the salmon so it doesn't crack. As the nori gets moist it will soften and this will become easier.
  6. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the salad
  7. To cook the salmon place a steamer above a pot of boiling water
  8. Steam the salmon for 5 minutes then remove from steamer and allow to rest at room temperature for a further 5 minutes
  9. Slice in half and serve


  1. Boil the edamame for 5 minutes then drain and rinse in cold running water until cool
  2. Remove the stones from the umeboshi and cut in half
  3. Mix all salad ingredients together and serve with the salmon



These ingredients are all commonly available at most Asian food stores in NZ and in many supermarkets. The seaweed salad often comes frozen in a vacuum packed plastic bag and is already seasoned with sesame oil, sesame seeds and chili.

Umeboshi are salted and pickled plums from Japan, these are quite strong in flavour. You don't need many in this dish and you may want to try one before adding to the salad just in case they aren't to your liking.

Nutrition Facts

Per serve

  • Energy                               1429kJ
  • Total Fat                           13.6g
  • Saturated Fat                  2.3g
  • Total Carbohydrate       9.3g
  • Sugars                               5.2g
  • Dietary Fibre                    23g
  • Sodium                             185mg





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