Be Heart Smart with Michigan Apples
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN
Heart-healthy eating starts with putting the right foods into your shopping cart – those items that lower cholesterol and help keep your blood pressure in check. Some of the essential foods to stock your kitchen and pantry with are plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole and enriched grain foods, low fat/fat free dairy or dairy alternatives, fish/seafood, lean meats/poultry and beans.
Take a look at your plate to make sure half is filled with colorful fruits and veggies. Whether fresh, canned (low/no sodium), dried, or frozen (no sauces), they are a great source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and have been linked to lowering your risk for heart disease. Apples for example have a polished reputation as a heart-healthy food. They are naturally fat-free and provide an excellent source of fiber – both soluble and insoluble types. In a 2012 study conducted by Ohio State University, the daily consumption of apples was associated with reduced level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol. Their research showed that middle-aged adults who consumed one apple a day for four weeks lowered their levels of LDL cholesterol by 40 percent.1 Other studies found that eating apples daily appeared to lower levels of cholesterol and two other indicators associated with plaques and inflammation in artery walls.2
Apples are rich in pectin, a soluble fiber, which blocks cholesterol absorption in the gut and encourages the body to use, rather than store this waxy substance. In addition, apple peels are packed with polyphenols. These antioxidants prevent cellular damage from harmful molecules called free radicals. As far as how much to eat, just follow the apple-a-day saying, and if you eat two-a-day it might be even better! Since most individuals like apples this is deliciously, doable advice. Here are some sample meals recipes to get you started:
Oatmeal topped with Chopped Apples, Walnuts & Cinnamon
Chicken, Apple Salad – recipe below
Whole Grain Crackers
Tomato Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Apple Crisp – recipe below
Chicken Apple Salad – Leftover cooked chicken makes this chicken apple salad, loaded with healthful ingredients a snap to assemble.
Makes 4 servings
⅓ cup low-fat mayonnaise
⅓ cup nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
2 small red Michigan Apples, diced*
1 cup halved red or green grapes
1 cup sliced celery
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted if desired, divided
Whisk mayonnaise, yogurt and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add chicken apples, grapes, celery and ¼ cup walnuts. Stir well. Serve topped with remaining walnuts.
Nutrition facts per serving: 356 Calories; 16g Fat; 23g Carbohydrate; 3g Fiber; 275mg Sodium; 31g Protein; 537mg potassium
Recipe adapted from Eating Well
Michigan Apple Crisp
Makes 6 servings
¾ cup old-fashioned oats
¼ cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 cups Michigan Apples, sliced*
2 tablespoon white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350°F, and coat an 8”-square pan with nonstick cooking spray.
To prepare the streusel topping, whisk together the oats, flour, cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Add the melted butter. Stir until fully incorporated.
To prepare the filling, toss the apples with the flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl until completely coated.
Transfer the filling to the prepared pan, and gently press down with a spatula. Sprinkle evenly with the topping. Bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes or until the apples are fork tender. May serve warm or cold.
Nutrition facts per serving: 200 Calories; 4.5g Fat; 38g Carbohydrate; 4.5g Fiber; 7mg Sodium; 3g Protein
*For guidance on which Michigan Apples are best for eating and baking check out this helpful usage chart: http://www.michiganapples.com/Recipes/Usage-Chart
Journal of Functional Foods, Volume 5, Issue 1, January 2013, Pages 493–497
Chai SC, Hooshmand S, Saadat L, Payton ME, Brummel-Smith K, Arjmandi BH*. Daily apple consumption reduces cardiovascular risk factors in postmenopausal women. J Acad Nutr Diet, 112(8):1158-68, 2012.