Kefir vs Yogurt: Differences, Benefits, & Nutrition

Are you looking for ways to add more probiotics — i.e., the good bacteria — into your life through the foods you consume? One efficient way to do that is by consuming kefir and/or yogurt, both of which are sources of probiotics. 

Most people have heard of yogurt, but some aren’t quite as sure about what kefir is or the differences between kefir vs. yogurt

In today’s article, you’ll learn about kefir and yogurt differences. Some of the questions we’ll discuss are:

  • How is kefir vs. yogurt made? 
  • What is kefir?
  • What is yogurt? 
  • What are the kefir and yogurt differences?

Kefir and yogurt have been around for thousands of years even if they feel like “new” products on the markets — at least in the case of kefir, which is less well known. First things first, let’s look at how kefir vs. yogurt are made so you can understand the differences when it comes time to shop for both — or make your own if you’re feeling adventurous. 

How Is Kefir vs. Yogurt Made?

Kefir vs. yogurt are made in similar ways, although not identical. Kefir is a fermented drink traditionally made using cow’s or goat’s milk, but times have changed, and there are plenty more options of kefir that are plant-based. The same is true for yogurt, which is also fermented. Later on, we’ll discuss the differences between the two in more detail. 

Kefir is created by adding kefir grains to whatever type of milk you’re using, whether cow’s milk or cashew milk. When we say grains, we don’t mean wheat, corn, or oats. Kefir grains are colonies of lactic acid bacteria and yeast that are added to the liquid, and then over the course of 24 hours, the bacteria start to multiply as they feed on the sugars.

What Is Kefir

Kefir is a fermented drink that is usually more similar to the texture of drinkable yogurt. It often has a tangy flavor and is thicker than water but thinner than yogurt. If you don’t like dairy-based products, you can still consume kefir. It’s usually well-tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant and is naturally gluten-free but to be safe always check with your healthcare provider.. 

While more research is still needed, one study found that the enzymes in kefir may help break down lactose, so it improved lactose digestion for those who were intolerant. 

Kefir also behaves similarly to kombucha or at least the kefir grains do. Kombucha is created using a SCOBY, an acronym that stands for the “Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria And Yeast.” The kefir grains are little clumps of bacteria and yeast that help ferment the milk. Once the kefir is ready to be consumed, you just strain out the grains, and then you can reuse them indefinitely as long as they’re healthy—similar to a SCOBY. 

Some of the nutrients you’ll find in kefir include: 

  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B12
  • And, of course, probiotics. 

Kefir typically contains between 15-20 billion probiotic colony forming units (CFUs), while yogurt usually has around 5-6 billion CFUs. This makes kefir much higher in probiotics when you purchase healthy versions without added sugars and unnecessary ingredients.

This is why most people consume kefir for probiotics and digestive support. You can boost the nutritional goodness of kefir by using it as a base in a smoothie full of fresh fruits and veggies. 

What Is Yogurt

Yogurt is also made by fermenting milk, whether that be dairy milk or the growing-in-popularity cashew milk and almond milk. Yogurt is thicker and makes an excellent base for adding granola, mixing it into smoothies, and more. You can experience many benefits when consuming yogurt as long as you choose wisely (or make it yourself). You don’t want to purchase yogurts with lots of added sugars and ingredients or yogurts without live, active bacteria cultures. This is where reading the label comes in handy. 

Some of the potential benefits of yogurt include: 

  • Intake of protein, vitamins and minerals, and probiotics that may support the gut microbiota and support digestion 
  • Probiotics may support immune function 
  • Probiotics in yogurt may curb gas and bloating

The most common bacteria strains used in yogurt include Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, but additional ones are usually added. There are so many good reasons to consume yogurt and kefir. If you want to give making your own yogurt sweets a go, try out this recipe for Cherry Coconut Frozen Yogurt Bites. Yum!

Kefir And Yogurt Differences

What are the kefir and yogurt differences, you ask? Kefir usually has a little less sugar than yogurt, but that depends on what you buy. There are so many incredible brands out there these days that are mindful of the types of sugar used and how much, so you can usually find something that meets your needs. 

It is believed that kefir has more probiotics than yogurt, so it’s up to you to choose which is best for your needs and tastes. Many mainstream yogurts are packed full of sugars and additional unhealthy ingredients, so you won’t find as much nutrition in these as you might imagine. It’s best to look for ones with live cultures or make the yogurt yourself, which is surprisingly not too difficult. 

Another big difference between kefir and yogurt is how they are made. Kefir is made by adding the kefir grains to whatever liquid base you’re using. Then it’s covered and sits overnight at room temperature (for 24 hours). The grains ferment the milk, so it doesn’t spoil. Yogurt is also fermented, but the process happens by adding heat before the incubation period. 

Yogurt vs. Kefir – The Takeaway

Consuming probiotics is a great way to support your gut health. Healthy digestion may lead to a healthier life overall, so it doesn’t matter whether you choose yogurt vs. kefir or probiotic supplements instead. Each offers many benefits when you purchase or make kefir and yogurt as natural as possible without added sugar, artificial flavors, and other not-good-for-your-gut ingredients. 

If you’d like to learn more about the top beneficial bacteria included in kefir, yogurt and probiotic supplements, we have you covered! You can learn more about Lactobacillus here, and more about B. Bifidum bacteria here. 

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