Do you know what is the difference between yogurt and kefir? These are two products that are often equated, because they are both made from the fermentation of cow's milk. However, between these two products there are substantial differences from a nutritional and organoleptic point of view, therefore consistency, flavor and smell. Let's find out what yogurt and kefir are specifically, the differences between the two products and which one is most beneficial for our health.

What is yogurt

Yogurt comes from the fermentation process of cow’s milk through two bacteria: Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Thermophilus. During this process, lactose is transformed into lactic acid, making yogurt suitable also for those suffering from lactose intolerance. It is a product rich in calcium, proteins and vitamins that, if taken regularly, has numerous benefits: it strengthens the immune system, it regulates cholesterol levels in the blood and it performs an anti-inflammatory action on the mucous membranes of the intestine, regulating the bacterial microbiota. However, it should be noted that these bacteria only pass through the intestinal tract but they do not colonize it. But now let's see what kefir is, before discovering the differences between the two products.

What is kefir

Kefir is a drink rich in lactic ferments and probiotics that comes from the fermentation of fresh cow's milk, but that can also be prepared with vegetable milk or water. A fermented drink coming from the Caucasus, it is also said that it was Muhammad who donated the first kefir grains to the mountaineers who lived in those regions. It has a very low lactose content, that makes it suitable also for those suffering from intolerances, it has a fresh taste and a more liquid consistency than yogurt, it is also very nutritious. Kefir brings vitamins, mineral salts and proteins to our body, helps to rebalance the bacterial flora, it improves intestinal functions and it strengthens the immune system.

What are the differences between yogurt and kefir?

But let's find out now what are the substantial differences between yogurt and kefir.

Number of bacteria contained: yogurt contains only 2 bacteria (Lactobacillus bulgarigus and Streptococco thermophilus), while kefir contains more than 10, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, a "good" bacterium that strengthens intestinal mucous membranes and protects them from the attack of harmful bacteria, especially when inflammatory states are present.

Consistency and flavor: yogurt is creamy and it has a more delicate flavor, while kefir has a fresh, slightly acid and sparkling taste, with a modest alcohol content, around 1-2%, which is formed during the fermentation process with carbon dioxide. It is also more liquid than yogurt.

Digestibility: kefir rennet has a finer grain than that of yogurt, so kefir is more digestible. There are however another important factors related to digestibility: enzymes. Those contained in yogurt allow you to easily digest only the yogurt itself. The enzymes contained in kefir, on the other hand, also help digest other foods.

Probiotics: kefir contains bifidobacteria, which are instead absent in yogurt. These are probiotics essential for the proper functioning of our intestine and for strengthening the immune system.

Both yogurt and kefir can be prepared at home: in both cases you need to get the ferments. In the case of yogurt it is possible to use both whole yogurt and lyophilized lactic ferments. In the preparation of kefir, these are gelatinous granules, which multiply on contact with milk or water.

Which is more beneficial for our body?

So which one to choose between yogurt and kefir? Much also depends on what we expect from these two products. However, it is necessary to know that the bacteria and yeasts present in kefir are probiotics: they are therefore beneficial for our body, and they manage to arrive alive in the intestine, protecting the intestinal flora. The best known bacteria present in kefir are from the genus Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. The 2 bacteria that transform milk into yogurt, however, are not probiotics, as they do not survive in our intestines. Ultimately therefore, kefir is better thanks to its probiotic properties, therefore a valid aid for our intestines and our immune system .

What about buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a milk-based drink widespread mainly in Northern Europe and in some Asian countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is a by-product of the processing of butter which is fermented with the addition of lactic ferments. It has a light and almost transparent color, similar to the whey obtained during the production of the cheese. Unlike yogurt and kefir, buttermilk contains a lot of lactose, so it is not suitable in case of intolerance. In cuisine it is used for the preparation of some desserts: it gives a sour note and makes the dough softer.