Kefir and yogurt: what are the differences and which one to prefer?

Who I am
Elia Tabuenca García
Author and references

Kefir and yogurt what's the difference? Both are fermented milk products and both have specific advantages and contraindications, but which of the two is healthier?

Kefir and yogurt are two very similar products, but with important differences. They can both offer health benefits thanks to the bacteria they contain; however, which is the healthier of the two? Are there any nutritional, flavor or production differences? 

Kefir and yogurt are both cultivated foods, which commonly come from dairy products. That said, the non-dairy alternatives of both foods are now widely available.

Kefir and it yogurt they both have a very similar sour, fermented flavor, but there are many differences between them; let's discover them together.


Different Production

For centuries, kefir has been made using kefir grains and cow's milk. It is also possible to make it with goat or sheep's milk. THE kefir granules they look like tiny cauliflower florets. (Read also: Kefir, discover the ancient origins, history and legend)

Producers add the grains to the milk to ferment it, and then remove them. The final product is kefir, while the removed grains can be reused in the next batch.

Kefir can also be made without dairy products, i.e. by fermenting the beans with water, coconut water or vegetable drinks. (Read also: Water kefir: How to make it at home and its benefits)

As for yogurt, on the other hand, it is produced by heating a yogurt mixture, cooling it and adding useful bacteria. The current standard procedures and regulations for the yogurt production they also require the addition of Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

Different bacteria and yeasts

Both kefir and yogurt can help populate the gut with good bacteria. The difference is that kefir contains one wider variety of bacteria, and also contains yeast.

Two of the most common yeasts in kefir are: Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces unisporus.

According to a search, kefir has other benefits and properties:

  • antimicrobial and antifungal properties
  • helps the immune system
  • it is antiallergic and antitumor
  • it is useful for lactose malabsorption

However, the variation of microorganisms in each batch makes it difficult to verify the health effects of different products.

The beneficial bacteria found in yogurt help keep the digestive tract clean and provide food for friendly bacteria, which are found in a healthy gut. They pass through the digestive tract and are called transient bacteria.

Flavor and texture 

Il flavor of kefir it is more tart than yogurt; it is often described as a cross between buttermilk and yogurt. Moreover, the latter is almost always eaten by the spoon, on the contrary kefir is usually consumed as a drink.

Yogurt generally tastes more familiar to most people. In addition, the consistency of the yogurt can also vary from thick and creamy to more watery; however, most yogurt varieties are denser than kefir. 

@Luis Mario Hernández Aldana / 123rf

Benefits of probiotics

Yogurt often contains the probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria. Probiotics are bacteria that can be beneficial for health; while kefir contains, in addition to probiotics, also yeasts.

According to a search probiotics can help treat or prevent:

  • constipation
  • respiratory tract infection
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • some infections that cause diarrhea, such as Clostridium difficile
  • diarrhea from taking antibiotics
  • allergic rhinitis
  • necrotizing enterocolitis, which is a serious condition in infants
  • Infections from Helicobacter pylori

It is important that i Probiotics survive the acidic environment in the intestine. Bifidobacterium strains in fermented products, such as kefir and yogurt, should be acid resistant.

Uno study of 2019 on people with metabolic syndrome who drank kefir for 12 weeks found some favorable changes to their gut bacteria. However, the authors suggest that research on the fermented beverage's probiotic potential is currently limited.

Kefir Vs Yogurt, nutritional values

Yogurt, low-fat yogurt and fat-free yogurt contain at least 3,25% milk fat, 0,5% and 2% milk fat, and less than 0,5% milk fat, respectively. Low-fat yogurt and low-fat kefir have very similar nutritional values.

Both products also contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals. There are also many flavored variants on the market, which may contain high amounts of added sugars.

@Sea Wave / 123rf

Same versatility

Both yogurt and milk kefir can be made thicker by draining the whey from the finished product. By draining the whey from the yogurt you get one thick Greek yogurt

Kefir can be drained from whey to make a soft spreadable cheese, kefir cream or even hard cheese.

In addition to these different dairy products, both yogurt and kefir are quite versatile and can be used in many recipes, from sauces to baked goods.

@ Magrig / 123rf

How to use kefir and yogurt

Ready-to-eat kefir and yogurt are widely available in supermarkets. People with Lactose intolerance and those wishing to avoid dairy products can try a soy, coconut, or oat-based alternative.

Often lactose intolerant can consume fermented dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir safely. This is because the fermentation process reduces the lactose content.

These products can be eaten alone, or added to smoothies and cereals for an energetic breakfast. It is vital not to reheat kefir or yogurt, as this process can destroy bacteria.

All fermented dairy products go stored in the refrigerator, and not used after the expiry date stated on the package.

Effetti collaterali

Fermented foods like kefir and yogurt contain high levels of a substance called histamine. Some people are histamine intolerant and may experience symptoms such as:

  • headache
  • skin irritation
  • Diarrhea

Gas and bloating may also occur, which tend to subside once the intestines get used to the new foods. In this case, it is good to introduce these foods gradually. (Read also: Kefir: good, but not for everyone! Possible harm and side effects)

Furthermore, fermented foods can have an effect on the immune system, hence the people they consume immunomodulating drugs and those with compromised immune systems should speak to a doctor before trying these products.

Sometimes, fermented foods are responsible for outbreaks of food poisoning; According to the authors of a search of 2019, manufacturers can help prevent these outbreaks by ensuring the acidity of the product.

Sul kefir could it be interesting for you:

  • Kefir, discover the ancient origins, between history and legend, of the drink "of the prophet"

  • Kefir ghee: how and why to make probiotic ghee

  • Kefir, what happens to the body by consuming a cup every day

  • Kefir: benefits and how to prepare milk kefir and the vegan water-based variant

add a comment of Kefir and yogurt: what are the differences and which one to prefer?
Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.