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Greek Yogurt and Flaxseed: Worth the Hype for Cancer Survivors?

By Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES March 5, 2014Pearls of Wisdom Blog

Greek Yogurt

Looking for a quick, healthy snack to increase your protein and calcium intake during cancer treatment? Greek yogurt could be a great option.

What is in Greek yogurt? It contains all the benefits of regular yogurt, plus extra protein (17 grams per serving). Greek yogurt also adds calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins A and D to your diet. All these nutrients are important for healing and recovery, whether you are currently in treatment or not. Need more water? Like all yogurts, Greek yogurt contains water so it can add nutrients and flavor as well as hydrate you, which especially important during treatment. Greek yogurt can serve as one of your three recommended daily dairy food servings. Dairy intake has been tied to helping maintain a good weight.

How can you add Greek yogurt to your diet? Try using Greek yogurt plain in place of sour cream and mayonnaise in recipes. Add it to smoothies, milkshakes, and cooked recipes to boost your nutrition. It’s great as a dip, side dish, or dessert with any meal. Freeze cups of Greek yogurt containing fruit and eat it as a frozen treat, especially if you are feeling nauseous and want to limit cooking smells.

Who should limit Greek yogurt? If you have kidney disease or need to limit protein, potassium, or phosphorus, ask your physician or a Registered Dietitian if Greek yogurt is right for you.

Recipes that are perfect for Greek yogurt:
Berry Parfait with Lemon Curd Dip
Red, White, and Blue Smoothie
Stuffed Chicken Breasts


Flaxseed Why all the fuss? Flaxseeds are rich in heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show possibly reduce inflammation and slow cancer progression. Once you grind flax seeds, these fatty acids are ready to nourish you. For 1 tablespoon serving, you will get 2 grams of dietary fiber, 18 calories, and less than 2 grams each of fat, carbohydrate, and protein.

How should you use flaxseed? You can stir in flaxseed into any dish, just like you would add nuts, cheese, or fruit. Casseroles, muffins, yogurt parfaits, and soups are great options. Many people find little aroma in ground flaxseed so they’re great to add extra nutritional value to cool foods and snacks such as pudding, gelatin, yogurt, and peanut butter crackers if you have nausea.

When should flaxseed be avoided? If you are on a menu that restricts fiber, potassium, or fat, avoid flaxseed and talk with your physician or a Registered Dietitian.

Recipe that is perfect for flaxseed:
Creamy Quinoa Oat Porridge

Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Author Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Nutrition Educator Margaret Martin is a Licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist in the State of Tennessee as well as a Certified Diabetes Educator. Margaret graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and received her Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science & Public Health from the University of Tennessee. With more than 10 years of experience in Clinical Nutrition, Margaret has also worked in the insurance industry with WellPoint Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield providing telephonic nutrition consultations, service assistance, and web-based nutrition education. In her free time Margaret volunteers with the American Lung Association’s annual “Lung Force Walk" in Middle Tennessee. She belongs to the Oncology Nutrition & Diabetes Care and Education Dietetic Practice Groups of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

More posts by Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

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