are yogurt parfaits healthy?

are yogurt parfaits healthy?

In this blog post, I will review yogurt parfaits commonly found in commercialized food chains. Let’s review which one is the healthiest, which one to avoid, and tips we can do to make our parfaits a healthier option. 

Most yogurt parfaits are filled with some kind of yogurt, layered with fruit and granola, and packed with protein and other nutrients. Unlike protein bars, yogurt parfaits are a healthy breakfast or snack to eat when on-the-go. However, not all yogurt parfaits are created equal.

We will review yogurt parfaits at three food chains: Mcdonalds, Panera Bread, and Chick-fil-A and what’s healthy (and not) about their parfait.

Mcdonalds Fruit 'N Yogurt Parfait

are yogurt parfaits healthy?
Calories: 150
Total Fat: 2g
Total Carbs: 30g
Protein: 4g
What's in Mcdonald parfait?

1) Low fat yogurt: cultured pasteurized grade A reduced fat milk, sugar, modified corn starch, fructose, whey protein concentrate, gelatin, corn starch, natural flavor, potassium sorbate (preservative).

2) Strawberries: strawberries, konjac flour.

3) Blueberries: blueberries.

4) Low fat crunchy granola: whole grain rolled oats, brown sugar, crisp rice (rice flour, barley malt extract, salt), sugar, corn syrup, sunflower oil, salt, baking soda, citric acid, cinnamon, crushed oranges, natural flavor.

Is Mcdonald parfait healthy to eat?

Although Mcdonalds uses preservatives and ingredients to improve the texture of their parfait, the good news is Mcdonald’s parfait does have some nutritional benefits. It’s a low fat, low sodium food with a small amount of calcium and vitamin A. However, this should be consumed with caution (as a dessert) due to the high sugar content. With 22g of sugar in 1 serving (or 5.5 teaspoons), it’s safe to say, Mcdonalds adds a ton of sugar in their parfaits. And, most of the sugar is found in the granola.

Still want to eat mcdonald parfait?

There are a few options:

1) Skip the granola and just eat the yogurt and fruit.

2) Save this as a dessert (it’s more dessert-like).

3) Or, simply put, you can make your own yogurt parfait. See recipe below.

Panera Bread Greek Yogurt Parfait

are yogurt parfaits healthy?
Calories: 300
Total Fat: 10g
Total Carbs: 39g
Protein: 15g
What's in Panera Bread parfait?

1) Whole milk plain greek yogurt: cultured pasteurized milk, S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus.
2) Fresh strawberries and blueberries
3) Honey
4) Granola: rolled oats, maple syrup, pecans, coconut, sugar, soybean oil, honey, brown sugar, butter, natural flavor, molasses.

Is Panera Bread parfait healthy to eat?

Although it is slightly smaller in size compared to Mcdonalds, Panera Bread has 150 more calories, 8g more sugar, 11g more protein, and 2g more fiber than Mcdonald’s parfait! The higher amount of calories, protein, and sugar doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. Panera Bread uses different ingredients than Mcdonalds.

For instance, most of the sugar comes from natural sources like fruit, honey, and coconut. There are unnatural sources of sugar including maple syrup, sugar, brown sugar, and molasses that are also contributing to the high sugar content. Another ingredient is the type of milk used. Panera Bread uses whole milk, which will certainly contribute to an increase in calories and fat compared to Mcdonalds, which uses reduced fat milk. I prefer full fat dairy for the nutrients and taste. Science also agrees full fat dairy is the way to go. A recent study suggested the consumption of full fat dairy is associated with decreased risk of heart disease, and in fact, showed full fat dairy to have a variety of beneficial nutrients important for our health.

Still want to eat Panera parfait?

Same recommendations as above, there are a few options:

1) Skip the granola and just eat the yogurt and fruit.

2) Save this as a dessert (it’s more dessert-like)!

3) Or, simply put, you can make your own yogurt parfait. See recipe below.

Chick-fil-a Greek Yogurt Parfait

Chick-fil-A Greek Yogurt Parfait
Calories: 250
Total Fat: 9g
Total Carbs: 30g
Protein: 13g
What's in Chick-fil-A parfait?

1) Greek yogurt: cultured pasteurized reduced fat milk, sugar, water, pectin, natural vanilla flavor, live and active yogurt cultures.
2) Strawberries and blueberries 
3) Cookie crumbs: wheat flour, niacin, iron, vitamins B1 and B2, sugar, palm/canola oil, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, soy lecithin, salt, chocolate, natural flavor.

Is Chick-fil-a parfait healthy to eat?

Chick-fil-A Greek yogurt parfait is similar to Mcdonalds yogurt parfait. Although Chick-fil-A has less calories, but more fat and protein than Mcdonalds, the nutrient profile and ingredients used are similar. In addition, the sugar and fiber content are similar. Similar to Mcdonalds, Chick-fil-A does offer some nutritional benefits. Overall, the ingredients are mainly sugar and a lot of fillers to meet consumers’ nutritional goals.

Still want to eat Chick-fil-A parfait?

Similar recommendations as above, there are a few options:

1) Skip the cookie crumbs and just eat the yogurt and fruit.

2) Save this as a dessert (it’s more dessert-like)!

3) Or, simply put, you can make your own yogurt parfait. See recipe below.

Parfait Verdict

My parfait pick would be Panera Bread’s yogurt parfait for a few reasons. First, Panera Bread uses whole milk for the Greek yogurt as well as oats instead of cookie crumbs. Although Panera Bread had the highest sugar content, it also had more fiber, more protein, and less sodium. It is the best option.

However, the best option doesn’t mean healthy. All three parfaits were high in sugar and should be eaten rarely, or as a dessert. 

Healthy Homemade Granola

There’s another option, one that’s cheaper and 100% healthier. Have you ever tried to make your own yogurt parfait? It’s simple. All you need is full fat Greek yogurt and the items listed below for the granola. Granola stores extremely well in the refrigerator for several weeks. Now, that’s a yogurt parfait you can eat every morning, every day. Cheers to our health!

Homemade Crunchy Granola


1 1/2 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup dried unsweetened cranberries

1/2 cup of halved almonds

1/3 cup chopped cashews

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 225F. Mix oats, coconut, cranberries, almonds, cashews, brown sugar, and cinnamon together.

2. Using a separate bowl, mix oil and maple syrup together.

3. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until wet mixture is evenly distributed.

4. Spread a thin layer of granola onto baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20-30 minutes.

What’s your favorite parfait? Leave a comment with a link of your favorite one. Check out other homemade recipes here.