Kefir vs. Yogurt

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
May 24, 2011

Ask the Diva: Do You Get the Same Benefits from Kefir and Yogurt?

Q. I’ve heard you talk about the benefits of probiotic bacteria in yogurt.  Is kefir also a good source of probiotics? It tastes sort of like yogurt and I’m not sure what the difference between them is.

A. Kefir is absolutely a beneficial, probiotic food!

The difference is that kefir--which is like a thin, drinkable yogurt--is fermented with a combination of lactobacillus bacteria and yeasts. (Yogurt contains only lactobacillus bacteria.)

As they grow and divide, lactobacillus bacteria digest the lactose in milk and produce lactic acid, which gives yogurt and kefir their characteristic tartness.

In kefir, the fermenting yeast also produce carbon dioxide, which makes the kefir slightly effervescent (fizzy), and small amounts of alcohol.

Most of the commercially produced kefir in the U.S. contains little to no alcohol so it doesn’t have to be labeled or sold as an alcoholic drink. Homemade kefir can contain up to 2% alcohol. By comparison, wine contains between 8 and 12% alcohol.

Related Content: Fermented and Cultured Foods