Most of us know what yogurt is but what is Kefir?
Kefir is a tart drink similar to a drinking-style yogurt, but it contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria found in yogurt. The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine symbiotically to give superior health benefits when consumed regularly. It is loaded with valuable vitamins and minerals and contains easily digestible complete proteins. For the lactose intolerant, kefir’s abundance of beneficial yeast and bacteria provide lactase, an enzyme which consumes most of the lactose left after the culturing process.
How is it made?
Kefir can be made from any type of milk, cow, goat or sheep, coconut, rice or soy. Although it is slightly mucous forming, the mucous has a “clean” quality to it that creates ideal conditions in the digestive tract for the colonization of friendly bacteria.
Kefir is made from gelatinous white or yellow particles called “grains.” These are not grains in the conventional sense, but cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria that resemble a cauliflower in appearance. This makes kefir unique, as no other milk culture forms grains.
These grains contain the bacteria/yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk proteins) and complex sugars. They look like pieces of coral or small clumps of cauliflower and range from the size of a grain of wheat to that of a hazelnut. Some of the grains have been known to grow in large flat sheets that can be big enough to cover your hand!. The grains ferment the milk, incorporating their friendly organisms to create the cultured product. The grains are then removed with a strainer before consumption of the kefir and added to a new batch of milk.
Kefir is rich in Vitamin B12, B1, and Vitamin K. It is an excellent source of biotin, a B Vitamin which aids the body’s assimilation of other B Vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The numerous benefits of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping relieve skin disorders, boost energy and promote longevity. Kefir made from dairy is an excellent source of calcium. Full-fat dairy, it also contains vitamin K2 which have major benefits for bone health and preventing osteoporosis.
What's the difference between yogurt and kefir?
Both have beneficial bacteria. Yogurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. But kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match.
Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt, Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species.
Kefir grains contain about 30 strains of bacteria and yeasts, making it a very rich and diverse probiotic source. It also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which dominate, control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body.
They do so by penetrating the mucosal lining where unhealthy yeast and bacteria reside, strengthening the intestines. Hence, the body becomes more efficient in resisting such pathogens as E. coli and intestinal parasites.
Kefir’s active yeast and bacteria provide more nutritive value than yogurt by helping digest the foods that you eat and by keeping the colon environment clean and healthy. Because the curd size of kefir is smaller than yogurt, it is also easier to digest, which makes it a particularly excellent, nutritious food for babies, the elderly and people experiencing chronic fatigue and digestive disorders.
Comparing Kefir to Greek yogurt you will get more protein per ounce of greek yogurt than kefir. Kefir has about 10 grams of protein per cup where greek yogurt has about 20 grams of protein per cup.
But you get more probiotics from Kefir over greek yogurt.
*** most information in this post was taken from http://www.kefir.net/