Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits: Great nutrition for cancer patients

Fruit and yogurt parfaitFruit and yogurt parfaits are considered a multipurpose snack, packed full of nutritious benefits because they contain probiotics, protein, calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, potassium and magnesium. The nutritional benefits are great for everyone, but cancer patients can especially benefit because nutrition is vital to successful cancer treatment. In fact, we like the nutritional value in these parfaits so much we recently demonstrated them for our patients and visitors at Botsford Cancer Center.

Fruit and yogurt parfaits pack a nutritional punch for cancer patients because they have a long list of benefits cancer patients need, including:

  • Osteoporosis prevention – Some chemotherapy treatments can cause bones to become brittle or bone marrow suppression, both of which can lead to osteoporosis (the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time). Vitamin D and calcium in yogurt will help strengthen bones. Check food labels to see which brands contain added vitamin D.
  • Maintaining gastrointestinal health – Probiotics (also known as “good bacteria”) help gastrointestinal conditions and help in maintaining bowel functions.  This is important for people with cancer because radiation and chemotherapy treatments can cause gastrointestinal distress such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation.  Yogurt will provide the body with good bacteria that is used to fight off the “bad” bacteria which cause upset stomach. Also, some patients on antibiotics may need active cultures to replace bacteria that may be lost.  Yogurt with active cultures may also help with other gastrointestinal conditions such as lactose intolerance, colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Feeling fuller – Parfaits pack calories and protein into a relatively small serving which is important for cancer patients experiencing decreased appetite as a result of treatment. Choosing foods that are high in calories and protein and eating small, frequent meals can help maintain required nutrition when you just don’t feel like eating. Other options include semi-solid yogurt containing pieces of fruit and granola, drinkable yogurt and flavored dairy beverages.
  • Boost immune system function – Chemotherapy treatments may suppress the immune system by destroying both the good and bad cells. Make your parfait with blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries or strawberries to give your immune system a boost and it may also help to reduce your risk of several types of cancers.
  • Energy and bowel function – The bananas in the parfait are a great source of source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, which provide the body with energy and helps maintain bowel functions.

Fruit & Yogurt Parfait Recipe

Layer 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt into the bottoms of 4 tall glasses. Alternate layers of fruit, granola and yogurt until glasses are filled to the top. Serve parfaits immediately to keep granola crunchy.


  1. 1 cup (8 oz) regular yogurt (if you’re undergoing cancer treatment, it’s best not to use light or low-fat yogurt because you need your calorie counts up!)
  2. ¼ cup each of two types of fruit. For cancer patients, I recommend any two of the following to maximize the cancer-fighting potential:
    • Blueberries
    • Strawberries
    • Bananas
    • Mandarin oranges
    • Pineapple
    • Apple pie filling
  3. Your choice of crunch, recommend (1/2 cup):
    • Trail Mix
    • Granola
    • Cereal (like Kashi GO LEAN Crunch with toasted berries)
  4. Whipped Cream (3 oz)

Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories 707, Protein 24 grams

Try these delicious variations!

Apple pie a la mode pafait


  • 8 oz yogurt – apple cinnamon or vanilla flavor
  • Apple pie filling
  • Granola
  • Optional – cinnamon to sprinkle on top for garnish

Strawberry and banana parfait


  • 8 oz yogurt cup – strawberry banana flavor
  • Granola
  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Banana, sliced

About Denise Cykiert, RD

Denise is a registered dietician at Botsford Hospital and Botsford Cancer Center.
This entry was posted in botsford, Cancer, Nutrition, Recipes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.