I’m a huge fan of both kefir and yogurt, but there are a few reasons kefir is better than yogurt in certain circumstances, or for certain purposes. Kefir and yogurt are both great forms of dairy to consume, so long as they’re from ethical, humane and organic sources. You should also be sure to choose no sugar added varieties, and preferably low fat or plain kefir and yogurt, at all times. You can always sweeten them with some healthy and calorie-free all natural sweetener if you want. Kefir is basically yogurt in a more powerful form, even though they’re made very differently. Kefir is milk cultured with a beneficial yeast for the body, not a harmful one, that’s wonderful for aiding in everything from better digestion to immunity and more. Yogurt is simply cultured milk that has been fermented with a culture that doesn’t have yeast, but still contains probiotics. Both have benefits, but there are some reasons kefir is better than yogurt, which I’ll share with you below.
1. Higher Probiotics
One of the main reasons kefir is better than yogurt, is that it is higher in probiotic content. This means you’ll get more healthy bacteria in just a very small serving. Most yogurts contain around 1-1.5 billion cultures or less in a serving. Kefir actually contains anywhere from 10-100 billion, depending on the brand. If you ask me, they both taste so similar, and while I enjoy both, I know I'm getting more probiotics from kefir than I am my smoothies.
2. Lower Lactose
Kefir is almost always lactose free, or 99% lactose free. Since there are more beneficial bacteria counts in kefir, they actually “eat up” all the lactose. Healthy cultures and yeast feed off sugars, including the natural sugar in milk, known as lactose. This means you’ll actually be consuming no lactose at all with kefir, versus some with yogurt. If you’re highly sensitive to lactose, but not allergic to dairy, you can still consume kefir most likely, with no issues at all.
3. Better for Your Immunity
Kefir has different probiotic strains than yogurt does, simply because it’s made from a different beneficial source of bacteria. Yogurt is awesome for your immunity, but kefir contains several specific strains that target your immune health more than those in yogurt. Yogurt’s strains do contribute to immunity, but most strains in yogurt target digestion and assimilation of nutrients more than anything, such as bifidus and acidophilus strains. Those are found in kefir in higher amounts as well.
4. Cheaper per Serving
For the probiotic culture content you’ll get in yogurt, you’ll get a much higher dose in a smaller serving of kefir. Most kefirs actually only cost around $3-4 and have around 4-5 servings per container. This equates to a much cheaper price than yogurt to begin with, but you can also use less kefir and get more benefits. Most people only need around 2-3 tbsp. of kefir a day to gain the benefits it has to offer, meaning a container could last you up to 20 servings instead of just the 4-5 cup servings that the label reads.
5. Substitute for Milk
Another great benefit to using kefir instead of yogurt is you can directly use it as a sub for milk in everything from smoothies, to oatmeal, to baked goods. While you could use yogurt the same, since kefir is easier to pour, it can make it easier to use depending on the recipe you’re using. I even like pouring it into ice cube trays like you would milk, freezing it and adding it to smoothies for a thicker, frostier treat. Just 3-4 cubes is all you need!
6. Salad Dressing Replacement
My favorite trick for making a low calorie ranch dressing is to use kefir as the base instead of sour cream, buttermilk or milk. Season it with salt, pepper, garlic and herbs, and you’ll never know the difference. It’s delicious and so healthy for you! If I’m in a hurry, I just drizzle a little right on top of my salad, and in such a small amount, you’re only looking at around 30 calories at most. It’s deliciously creamy and one of my favorite salad dressing secrets!
7. Mood Food
Kefir is a wonderful mood food. Kefir actually means “to feel good” in Greek. It’s also known to help with depression, mood disorders and gut problems that affect the brain. Your digestive system affects your brain on a direct basis, since 80% of the nerves that influence your mood are derived from the nerves in your digestive system. Kefir’s high probiotic content is one reason it helps balance gut health, and in return it helps your mood improve greatly.
You can find many kefir recipes, along with tips on how to make nondairy kefir, at one of my favorite websites, Cultured Food Life, which you'll find below. If you consume kefir, what’s your favorite benefit to using it?