When you come across a cultured milk product, you’ll probably assume it’s yogurt – especially when it’s off-white in colour and has a tart and tangy taste. But it might actually be kefir.
Yogurt and kefir are both made by fermenting milk to create healthy living bacteria cultures, so they’re both a great source of probiotics and are rich in protein, calcium and B vitamins. However, there are also several differences between them, and it helps to know, so you can make smarter snack choices. After all, we are
what we eat, right?
Yogurt vs. Kefir
Kefir is fermented for a much longer period than yogurt, which results in more benefits. For starters, kefir milk is 99 percent lactose-free, so it’s generally safe for those who suffer from lactose intolerance.
Kefir also contains three times more probiotic cultures, and up to 40 times the number of probiotic organisms. A higher probiotic count is always good for your health, as probiotics have been shown to boost immunity, improve digestive function, relieve eczema symptoms and prevent urinary tract infections.
In terms of taste, kefir has a thinner consistency and has a more sour taste compared to yogurt, but there’s nothing that can’t be solved with some honey, fruit or granola.
Kefir in Singapore
Some locals make their own kefir, but you can also get kefir treats from Miss Kefir, a shop on Amoy Street that sells kefir parfaits, smoothies and scones.
“After The Straits Times ran an article on fermentation last year, we noticed more interest among locals,” says co-founder Ivevei Upatkoon.
If you’re consuming it for the first time, it’s best to increase your serving size gradually.
“Some people experience a reaction when they first start kefir, as the probiotics fight with the bad bacteria in the gut and produce toxins. Symptoms include loose bowels, gas, bloating, constipation or even a feeling of feverishness or nausea,” says Ivevei. “It’s a sign of healing, but may be unpleasant. We recommend taking four tablespoons a day until the discomfort subsides,” she advises.
An earlier version of this article first appeared in CLEO November 2017.