What’s the Deal with Kefir?

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Recipes

Kefir seems to be the popular new kid on the block in the nutrition world. I have received several emails from readers asking my thoughts on it, and several big-name types in the fitness industry have featured it lately. For those who are unaware kefir is a fermented milk product made with a kefir grains. Think of it essentially as an effervescent liquid yogurt. Just like yogurt it is loaded with beneficial probiotics, bacteria that line your digestive tract (mainly your colon) and confer a plethora of health benefits to you.

Just like plain yogurt plain kefir is a little sour, however that can be easily remedied with a little protein powder and fruit in a deliciously healthy smoothie. In fact I think this is one of the best ways to consume kefir if you choose to do so. I generally don’t recommend sweetened versions as their sugar content is too high. I prefer to add flavor myself.

A big brand-name brand that also gets excellent scores (4 out of 5) from the Cornucopia Institute is Lifeway. They produce an organic whole milk kefir that I think is absolutely top-notch. The nutrition facts are more or less equivalent to regular whole milk though the protein is a teeny bit higher because of the addition of some non-fat milk in the second fermention process.

You can replace the unsweetened vanilla almond milk in any of my smoothie recipes with 1 cup of this kefir if you so desire, though do be aware it will increase the calorie content. In fact I think this recipe works the best:

  • 8oz organic while milk plain kefir
  • 1 scoop Jay Robb vanilla protein (though strawberry or tropical dreamsicle also work)
  • 1/2 cup wild frozen or fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh organic raspberries or strawberries
  • 1 tbsp milled flax seed
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • ice cubes if using fresh fruit

This will provide 39g of protein, 33g of carbs, 10g of fiber, 20g of fat and 468kcal.

While there are a lot of claims about kefir and its abilities to improve heath, don’t be sold on it being a miracle food. It is simply another healthy addition to your intake and your digestive tract will thank you for its consumption due to its abundance of probiotic bacteria, many of which are different than those in yogurt, which could provide a nice complement to your yogurt consumption.

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Posted on February 6th, 2012 by Brian St. Pierre

3 Comments

  1. Tricia Says:

    Before paleo, I suffered periodically from flare ups of diverticulitis. After taking antibiotics for the first couple incidents, I decided to try to treat it with probiotics —- primarily drinking kefir 3 times a day. Worked like a charm for me.

    I don’t care for the unsweetened stuff, so I quit drinking it when I went paleo.

  2. Shane Says:

    It’s also incredibly delicious just on its own. A pint of plain kefir is pretty flavourful and satisfying. It’s like the beer of dairy.

  3. Brian St. Pierre Says:

    Hahaha, I like that, the beer of dairy.

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