‹ Healthy Living Blog

The Best Eating Plan includes Michigan Apples

By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN

For the 8th year in a row, the DASH diet (or what I like to call the DASH eating plan) was ranked as the best by US News & World Report. This plan seems to be the best for helping to prevent and manage a variety of chronic diseases including the number one killer, heart disease. The DASH plan was originally designed to help lower blood pressure (DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), but is also very effective for lowering cholesterol, preventing diabetes and managing weight. The expert panel of physicians assembled by US New & World Report chose DASH because it is proven to improve health, has a balance of healthy food groups and it actually works, unlike many fad diets. What’s nice about the DASH eating plan is that it’s recommended as a model for healthy eating for the whole family.

The health benefits of the DASH diet are provided by more key nutrients, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, all of which are associated with lower blood pressure. Of course, additional lifestyle changes can also help improve lifestyle markers such as weight loss, physical activity and smoking cessation. The DASH eating plan is plant-focused, rich in fruits and vegetables, nuts, with low-fat and non-fat dairy, lean meats, fish,and poultry, mostly whole grains and heart healthy fats. You fill up on delicious fruits and vegetables, such as Michigan Apples, paired up with lean protein-rich foods that provide satiety. There are many healthful foods to include which makes the plan easy to follow. Here is the full DASH diet plan:


Type of food

Number of servings for 1600 – 3100 Calorie diets

Servings on a 2000 Calorie diet

Grains and grain products
(include at least 3 whole grain foods each day)

6 – 12

7 – 8


4 – 6

4 – 5


4 – 6

4 – 5

Low fat or nonfat dairy foods

2 – 4

2 – 3

Lean meats, fish, poultry

1.5 – 2.5

2 or less

Nuts, seeds, and legumes

3 – 6 per week

4 – 5 per week

Fats and sweets

2 – 4


Following a DASH eating pattern starts by shopping for the right foods at the supermarket – those items that lower cholesterol and help keep your blood pressure in check.  The produce department is a great place to start since the DASH plan emphasized fruits and vegetables. Colorful fruits and veggies 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’s a sample DASH menu plan that includes delicious recipes with the healthy benefits of Michigan Apples:



Oatmeal topped with Natural Cinnamon Applesauce

Light Yogurt




Chicken, Apple Salad – recipe below

Whole Grain Crackers

Baby Carrots

Nonfat Milk




Light String Cheese




Pork Tenderloin

Baked Potato


Tomato Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Apple Crisp Topped with Vanilla Frozen Yogurt – recipe below



Chicken Apple Salad

Makes 4 servings


Leftover cooked chicken makes this chicken apple salad, loaded with healthful ingredients a snap to assemble.


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 


1. 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


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and coat an 8”-square pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. 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.

3. To prepare the filling, toss the apples with the flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl until completely coated.

4. 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




1. Journal of Functional Foods, Volume 5, Issue 1, January 2013, Pages 493–497 

2. 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.

Meet the Author

Shari Steinbach

Shari Steinbach, MS RDN
Shari Steinbach & Associates, LLC

For the past 26 years, Shari has worked as a dietitian in the grocery industry for two major retailers in the Midwest. In her retail roles, Shari has managed consumer health communication, health influencer partnerships, nutrition programs, and solution-selling strategies.

Shari has served as a nutrition expert and corporate spokesperson, providing food and nutrition advice through monthly television spots on ABC, NBC and FOX affiliates and local radio segments. She has also conducted numerous educational presentations to community groups and professional organizations throughout the country. Her timely nutrition and food product information and strategic social media messages have reached millions of consumers.