When you think about foods that are good for gut health, I’m sure that greek yoghurt is pretty high on that list. You aren’t wrong with that assumption; probiotic yoghurt can be a fantastic food for benefiting the gut. So, how much do you know about kefir?
Here, we will discuss the benefits and differences between kefir and greek yoghurt to determine which is better for your gut health.
What is Kefir Yogurt?
Kefir is a fermented food or drink that usually comes from milk; it is very similar to greek yoghurt in its consistency, but the flavour can be very different; tangy and sour.1 It usually comes from cow’s or goat’s milk, but any milk can be used to make kefir.
Kefir is made using kefir grains, a mixture of probiotics (bacteria and yeasts) added to milk.2 These bacteria and yeast multiply and can ferment the sugars in the milk over approximately 24 hours when the grains are removed from the kefir mixture. These grains can be used time and time again to make kefir.3
Kefir originated in the mountainous region that divides Asia and Europe and can be food or drink. This article will discuss it in the form of yoghurt, in which the kefir is thickened.4
Kefir is extremely nutritious, and its nutritional value does not change when it is thickened to become yoghurt. An average serving of kefir (one cup) contains 104 calories, 9 grams of protein, 11.6 grams of carbs and 2-3 grams of fat, depending on the type of milk used to ferment the kefir grains. Kefir can be made from non-dairy milk and other sweet liquids, but the nutritional value will differ.5
Kefir yoghurt can be extremely nutritious when it comes to vitamins and minerals. It contains 24% of the DV (daily value) of calcium, 20% of the DV for phosphorus, 12% of the DV of magnesium, 29% of the DV of vitamin B12, 25% of the DV of vitamin B2, 12% of the DV of vitamin D.6 That is a huge portion of your daily vitamin and mineral intake necessary for good health in just one food.
As well as adding millions of live bacteria into the gut microbiome to help improve the diversity, Kefir yoghurt contains the specific probiotic Lactobacillus kefiri and the carbohydrate kefiran, both of which protect against harmful bacteria in the gut.5
Harmful bacteria growth in the gut can lead to an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria, leading to an increased risk of digestive issues and long-term health issues.
What is Greek Yogurt?
Yoghurt can be traced back to the 5th century BCE in Greece with the writings of Herodotus, but Greek yoghurt as we know it now came quite a bit later. The term Greek yoghurt was started in Athens by a company called Fage as a way to differentiate it from normal yoghurt, and a US company called Chobani popularised the method of creating greek yoghurt.7
Greek yoghurt is made by placing regular yoghurt in a fine mesh cloth and straining out the liquid whey, making it a thicker consistency. This process allows it to keep its sour taste while removing some moisture.8
Greek yoghurt is a great source of protein, much more so than regular yoghurt. An unsweetened 200-gram serving of greek yoghurt contains 20 grams of protein, 3.8 grams of fat, 7.8 grams of carbohydrates and 146 calories.9
In terms of the daily value of vitamins and minerals, this 200-gram serving will get you 43% of your Vitamin B12 needs, 35% of Vitamin B2, 19% of B5, 20% of Vitamin A, 18% of calcium, 22% of phosphorus, 6% of potassium, 11% of zinc and 45% of selenium.9
This amazing nutritional content can be super beneficial to human health. Gaining these essential nutrients can help support a healthy body weight, benefit the immune system, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, improve mood, support muscle recovery and support heart health.10
Greek yoghurt contains probiotics due to the way it is made. Many greek yoghurts contain added probiotics, too. When choosing your greek yoghurt, make sure to check the label for words like “live bacteria” or “active cultures”, as this indicates that there are probiotics.
It’s important to note that greek yoghurt often contains huge amounts of sugar. In its true, untouched form, greek yoghurt is not high in sugar. In manufacturing, sugar is often added in large quantities to achieve a palatable flavour.
A study into yoghurt, including greek yoghurt sold in major supermarkets, found that fewer than 9% contained low enough sugar levels to achieve a “green” on the packet labelling.11 Added sugar can be detrimental to the gut microbiome, so it is potentially counteractive to the boost you get from the probiotic content.
Kefir Yogurt vs Greek Yogurt: Which is better?
All in all, both can be fantastic choices for overall health and gut health. For both products, it is important to check the label of the particular brand you are using to ensure no hidden sugars or additives may cause you harm.
Greek yoghurt is slightly higher in fats and calories than kefir and contains more protein, phosphorus, selenium, B2 and B12. Kefir contains more probiotics, calcium, and vitamins B5, A and D.12
So…which is better? Well, it really depends on what you are looking for. If a lower-calorie option with lots of calcium and vitamin D suits your needs, go for kefir. If you want a higher-calorie option with lots of B12 and protein, greek yoghurt is your best bet.
If you want to improve your gut health at home, we encourage you to introduce one of these options into your diet and see how you find it. The taste isn’t for everyone, but it might just be for you!
If you try kefir yoghurt or Greek yoghurt, let us know how you included it in your diet! Did you use it as a substitute for something else? Plain, or with other foods?
Even better, if you decide to try making your own kefir, we would love to see a picture. Email us at email@example.com with your kefir, and we will share it on our social media!