Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kefir Versus Yogurt

So what is the big deal between kefir and yogurt? Is it just that one is more liquid-y than the other?

I have known about kefir for some time. I have seen it in the grocery store and I have heard about people who drank it. I knew that kefir wasn’t just drinkable yogurt, but I admit, I wasn’t sure why it wasn’t just drinkable yogurt. So what is the difference between kefir, regular yogurt and Greek yogurt?

For the sake of this post I am just sharing some insight about the PLAIN varieties of all three products. It is true, most of the regular yogurt on the marketplace is sold inclusive of fruit, lots of sugar and in many case high-fructose corn syrup or even worse, aspartame. It (she laughs) wouldn’t be fair of me to compare only lightly pasteurized kefir to ultra pasteurized yogurt with HFCS. And I like fairness. So here are some things to keep in mind.

· Kefir and yogurt are both fermented milk products. That is, milk that has been partially ‘eaten’ by bacteria. These bacteria are both specific strains (not just any airborne bacteria will do) and beneficial to your gut.

· Yogurt usually contains one or two strains of bacteria like acidophilus and bulgaricus. These strains are common in Eastern Europe and the Caucuses. Something that our Bulgarian babysitter loves to proudly remind us of…often.

· Kefir contains up to 13 strains of different bacteria. According to kefir.net, those strains can include “Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species.”

· Also according to kefir.net, “Yogurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. But kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match.” This was the information I was looking for on the internet….thank you.

· In case you didn’t read that last one: According to kefir.net, “Yogurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. But kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match.” That is pretty much the most important point in this post.

· The beneficial bacterium that is found in kefir and yogurt is found in the whey. Greek yogurt is plain yogurt that has been strained of much of its whey. This is why Greek yogurt is higher in protein (and calories) per ounce than its unstrained sister. Most of what remains are the milk solids. Greek yogurt is also lower in probiotic activity because it has had most of the whey removed. I love Greek yogurt because its taste is rich and thick and fatty. It is less tart and very pleasing. But I am not delusional; the greater probiotic choice is plain yogurt and definitely kefir.

The health claims of kefir beyond what I have mentioned above are long long long. It apparently helps everything from ADD to cancer to fighting Candida. And while I am not disputing that here, I remind everyone that kefir, like every other food and drug on the market, will likely work differently in different bodies. The taste is pleasing and the digestive benefits have been proven. And I love how filling it is. Whatever other positive benefits you reap are awesome, but conclusive of all 78 items on this list from the link I posted? I am just not sure. I don’t like posting anything here that I claim to be a wonder drug/ food. However that being said, I definitely have better digestion and by that I mean that my husband is less able to poke fun at me after a Mexican dinner.

I am truly in LOVE with my kefir. Go to http://www.kefirlady.com/ if you are curious. She has lots of great information, instructions and recipes. And she has been a pleasure to deal with!

This post is part of Traditional Tuesdays at Real Food Whole Health and Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFLINS and Sustainable Eats and Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade


  1. Wonderful comparison! It is interesting to learn that while yogurt is beneficial to digestive health, only kefir can actually recolonize. Thanks for sharing with Traditional Tuesdays! :-)

  2. Thanks Dawn! I love your site! Thanks for hosting Traditional Tuesdays.

  3. Not to mention that kefir is even easier to make than yogurt! :) It makes wonderful smoothies, I've found.

  4. i make a smoothie add banana and papaya and its helped my gastritis

  5. I use kefir in smoothies . . . and mix with bananas and blueberry. I am not very health conscious however mixing it all togther is a great way to get what you need in the morning with out having to suffer though just eating it as it is . . . unless you like that sort of thing.

  6. Thank you for clarifying, Dawn!

  7. I used to buy Lifeway and Latta Kefir and while it was good it was also very expensive. I've started making my own now and it's just as good and much more affordable.

  8. I would disagree with the comment saying that kefir is easier to make than yogurt ; kefir takes daily care and you can easily have it go really sour if you don't watch the growth of grains or if you leave it for too long. On the other hand, you can easily make a big batch of yogurt and keep it in the frige for 2 weeks.

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  10. I use both in smoothies but never together. I think they both have the same benefits but I prefer using probiotic yogurt.