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The Nutrition of a Parfait

May 21, 2010

It is important to understand the nutrition of a yogurt parfait, a seemingly healthy breakfast option. Yogurt parfaits have become increasingly popular, and you have probably noticed this cup of yogurt (mixed with granola and fruit) sold at some of your favorite restaurants and coffee shops. From the outside, the yogurt parfait appears to be the ideal, complete breakfast choice. However, think twice before you reach for a yogurt parfait. Let’s take a look at what’s really inside:

Calories in a Yogurt Parfait  

On average, a yogurt parfait contains around 350 calories, and about 40 of these are from fat. Not only is a parfait calorie-dense, but it contains 35 grams of sugar, 100mg of sodium and about 66g of carbohydrates. On the flip side, this yogurt creation does prove to be somewhat nutritious, delivering 10g of protein, 4g of fiber, 30% vitamin C, 30% calcium and 10% iron. The calorie breakdown is as follows:

  • 75% of calories are from carbs
  • 13% of calories are from fat
  • 12% of calories are from protein

Why a Parfait isn’t the Healthiest Choice

Although the ingredients contained in a yogurt parfait are essentially healthy, a lot of unnecessary sugars are usually found in this food. Restaurants can add sugar to a parfait to enhance the flavor.

Let’s start with the base, the yogurt. Yogurt is a healthy and low-calorie food when it is fat free and low in sugar. However, the parfait that you purchase might be made with a creamy yogurt that tastes delicious, but is full of fat, sugar and calories. Take a closer look at the fruit lurking in your parfait. If it appears to be fresh, you’re good to go. However, if it is swimming in a liquid, chances are that sugar and syrup were added to your fruit to make it flavorful. Now on to the crunchy, delicious topping: the granola. Sure, granola is made of nuts and grains, but these nutritious foods are usually clumped together with sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

How to Create a Healthy Parfait

If you’re craving a yogurt parfait, you’re better off making your own than purchasing one. It’s simple to create your own healthy and nutritious parfait; all you need are some fresh berries, fat free yogurt and dry, plain oatmeal. You can substitute the oatmeal for some wholegrain, low-sugar cereal or some natural granola. If you choose the latter, read the nutrition label to ensure that it’s not laden with sugar. Simply place some of the yogurt at the bottom of a tall glass, and top it with berries and some oatmeal. Continue to layer these ingredients until you reach the top of the glass. Voila! You just created a breakfast that is full of vitamins and saved yourself several calories!

It is fine to purchase a store bought yogurt parfait now and then, as there are several worse breakfast choices you could make. Just be sure you consume it as a meal and not a snack. Also, make sure you read the nutrition label and examine the parfait to guarantee you’re making the right decision and not gearing up for a sugar high.    

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