In order to eat healthy, stock your fridge, pantry and fruit bowl with easy and nutritious choices. Bananas and yogurt are two nutrient-rich and satisfying staples that you can grab on the go or use in a number of meals and snacks.
Nutrients in Yogurt
The nutrients in yogurt vary depending on the fat content and flavoring of the yogurt. A 6-ounce container of plain, low-fat yogurt provides 107 calories, including 8.93 grams of protein, 2.63 grams of fat and 11.97 grams of carbohydrates, all of which are sugars.
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Flavored yogurts and full-fat yogurts are higher in both calories and sugars. For example, a 6-ounce container of low-fat vanilla yogurt provides 144 calories and 23.46 grams of carbohydrates, all of which are sugars.
Greek yogurt contains more protein than non-Greek options. A 7-ounce container of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt has 17.32 grams of protein. Flavored Greek yogurts are higher in calories and sugar than their plain counterparts.
A 6-ounce container of low-fat, strawberry-flavored Greek yogurt provides 178 calories, 13.89 grams of protein, 4.37 grams of fat and 20.89 grams of carbohydrates, of which 1.7 grams are fiber and 19.09 grams are sugars.
When selecting yogurt, read the Nutrition Facts label to check out the protein content and the number of calories and carbs in your snack. You can also check the ingredients to see if there are added sweeteners like agave syrup, honey or high-fructose corn syrup.
Some yogurts contain thickening agents like guar gum, xanthan gum, starch or gelatin, or preservatives like potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate and natamycin. These additives can improve the texture of store-bought yogurt although they might cause you to feel bloated.
Read more: The 6 Best Yogurts and 4 to Avoid
Benefits of Yogurt
Yogurt can be a good source of protein, and some yogurts are fortified with B12, thiamin, riboflavin and folate. Oregon State University recommends that you check the label on your yogurt container for a "live and active cultures" stamp, as yogurts with this stamp contain probiotics. Health benefits of probiotics include reduced inflammation, increased immunity and boosted digestive health.
Most yogurt contains calcium, but some Greek yogurts have been strained and contain less calcium as a result. Compare the Nutrition Facts labels on Greek and non-Greek yogurts to see which option has the protein, calcium, calories and carbohydrates that work best with your daily meal plan.
Read more: Yogurt Brands Containing Probiotics
Nutrients in Bananas
Bananas vary in size and shape, meaning the nutrient count will vary from fruit to fruit. One medium-sized banana provides 105 calories, 1.29 grams of protein and 26.95 grams of carbohydrates, of which 3.1 grams are fiber and 14.43 grams are natural sugars. A medium-sized banana also contains 422 milligrams of potassium, 32 milligrams of magnesium and 26 milligrams of phosphorus.
Potassium is an important mineral that helps regulate liquid levels inside cells. Your recommended daily potassium intake varies depending on your age:
- Men ages 14 to 18 — 3,000 milligrams per day
- Men ages 19 and over — 3,400 milligrams per day
- Women ages 14 to 18 — 2,300 milligrams per day
- Women ages 19 and over — 2,600 milligrams per day
- Pregnant women over age 19 — 2,900 milligrams per day
- Breastfeeding women over age 19 — 2,800 milligrams per day
Magnesium is important for nerve and muscle function, regulating your heartbeat, keeping your immune system healthy and a number of other things. As with potassium, the recommended daily intake depends on your age and sex:
- Men ages 14 to 18 — 410 milligrams per day
- Women ages 14 to 18 — 360 milligrams per day
- Men ages 19 to 30 — 400 milligrams per day
- Women ages 19 to 30 — 310 milligrams per day
- Men ages 31 to 50 — 420 milligrams per day
- Women ages 31 to 50 — 320 milligrams per day
- Men over age 51 — 420 milligrams per day
- Women over age 51 — 320 milligrams per day
Read more: Top Ten Health Benefits of Bananas
Health Benefits of Bananas
The University of Alabama at Birmingham says that bananas can contribute to good cardiovascular health due to their high potassium content. Potassium can help balance out excess sodium to relieve pressure in blood vessel walls and plays a role alongside magnesium to keep your heartbeat regular.
Bananas are also a part of the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) diet. Doctors often recommend the BRAT diet to treat diarrhea, during recovery from the stomach flu or whenever patients need to follow a simple, bland diet.
What is the Banana Diet?
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, doctors and researchers in the early 20th century recommended a banana diet to treat celiac disease and diabetes. More recently, in the early 2000s, a Japanese pharmacist developed the morning banana diet to help her husband lose weight.
People following the morning banana diet can eat as many bananas as they like, along with room temperature water or one serving of milk, for their morning meal. There are no restrictions on lunch and dinner, as long as the dieter stops eating for the day at 8 p.m. and goes to bed before midnight.
Read more: 16 Surprising Facts About Bananas
Banana and Yogurt Diet
If you're looking to add more bananas and yogurt to your diet, keep in mind that there are plenty of delicious ways to eat them both separately and together. Four recipes that combine bananas and yogurt with delicious results are:
- PB Greek Yogurt and Banana Parfait makes for an easy and nutritious breakfast if you're in a hurry.
- Banana Choklat Fro-Yo blends bananas, Greek yogurt and more to create a sweet treat that tastes just like frozen yogurt.
- You can make Blueberry-Banana Protein Muffins ahead of time and store them in your freezer to grab as needed.
- A Better-for-You Banana Split will satisfy all your dessert cravings.
- USDA: "Bananas, Raw"
- National Academy of Sciences: "Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium"
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: "Potassium"
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: "Magnesium"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Bananas"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Superfoods or Superhype?
- USDA: "Yogurt, Plain, Low Fat"
- USDA: "Yogurt, Greek, Strawberry, Low Fat"
- Oregon State University: "Everything You Need to Know About Yogurt"
- USDA: "Yogurt, Greek, Plain, Nonfat"
- USDA: "Yogurt, Vanilla, Low Fat"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Yogurt"
- International Journal of Analytical Chemistry: "Simultaneous Determination of Preservatives in Dairy Products by HPLC and Chemometric Analysis"
- University of Alabama at Birmingham: "A Need for Bananas? Dietary Potassium Regulates Calcification of Arteries"