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Yogurt vs. Kefir : A Nutritional Comparison and Health Benefits

Yogurt and kefir are dairy derived products, which are made using fermented milk. Yogurt is thick in consistency and eaten with a spoon.  Kefir is a liquid milk beverage with a creamy, acidic taste. Yogurt is also used by many as a base in sauces and smoothies. Just plain good old yogurt commonly has a tart taste; however, it is also available in sweetened or flavored forms, which is achieved with the help of fruit, vanilla or honey.

Manufacturing of Kefir and Yogurt

Kefir is manufactured by mixing milk or water with a gelatinous kefir starter culture of milk proteins, bacteria and yeast. Kefir can be made using any type of milk, such as: low-fat animal milk; full-fat animal milk, coconut milk, soy milk, and other dairy-free milk. Some kefir can also be made using coconut water.

Kefir is usually fermented for 14 to 18 hours at room temperature. Yogurt is also made in a similar manner; however, it is fermented for lesser time when compared to kefir and is commonly cultured under heat.

Nutrition of Kefir and Yogurt

Both yogurt as well as Kefir are great sources of: calcium, protein, phosphorous, potassium and also are rich in vitamin A, and B vitamins such as folate, riboflavin, B12 and biotin.

Kefir contains slightly less sugar when compared to yogurt; however, it also depends on the brand. The main nutritional difference between them is that kefir has more probiotics when compared to yogurt. So, clearly kefir is the better option when one wants to improve their gut health.

What are the Nutritional Values of Yogurt and Kefir?

Given below is a comparison of one cup of plain, whole milk yogurt with one cup of plain, whole milk kefir:

Calories: Yogurt has 138 calories and kefir has 161 calories.

Calcium: Yogurt has 275 mg of calcium and kefir has 300 mg of calcium.        

Protein: Yogurt has 7.8 g protein and kefir 9 has 9 g.

Sugar:  Yogurt has 10.5 g of sugar and kefir has 7 g of sugar.       

Fat:  Yogurt has 7 g of fat and kefir has 9 g of fat.

Lactose Intolerance of Kefir and Yogurt

Kefir is often tolerated well by individuals who are lactose intolerant. This can be attributed to the fact that the enzymes in kefir can help in breaking down the lactose. A small study showed that kefir enhanced lactose digestion for individuals who are lactose intolerant; however, more research is needed on this.(3) If you are lactose intolerant, always check with your doctor before consuming anything new. There are some lactose intolerant people who can digest the probiotic-rich yogurt better than milk.

Probiotics in Kefir and Yogurt

Kefir has thrice the amount of probiotics than yogurt. It contains about 12 live and active cultures with 15 to 20 billion colony-forming units.(4) Whereas, yogurt has one to five active cultures with six billion colony-forming units.

Some of the benefits of probiotics are: improved digestion, increased immunity, better absorption of nutrients and food.

Always check for label saying “contains live cultures” to get a probiotic-rich yogurt, as not all the forms of yogurt will have probiotics.

Side Effects of Kefir and Yogurt

Kefir and yogurt are largely tolerated well. However, there are individuals who can have mild side effects from consuming probiotic-rich foods, such as kefir. These can consist of mild digestive problems like bloating, gas or constipation. This occurs more so when kefir is initially added to the diet. If the discomfort persists even after few days, then it is advised to consult your doctor.

You can eat yogurt on its own, but it can be made tastier by adding honey, fruit or granola to it. Yogurt can also be a healthy alternative to mayonnaise or cream in different savory and sweet recipes.

Kefir can be consumed as a beverage on its own and if you are not a fan of its sour taste, then it can be mixed into a smoothie or can be used as a substitute for buttermilk in various recipes.

Where to Buy Kefir and Yogurt?

Many health food stores and grocery stores sell Kefir and it can be found in the dairy section adjacent to yogurt. It can also be purchased online.


There is no denying that both yogurt and kefir are healthy addition to your daily diet. If you want to eat the healthiest option, then check the nutrition label and choose something which is plain, without any added flavor, coloring or sugar.


  1. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/105
  2. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/95516
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12728216/
  4. https://lifewaykefir.com/kefir-vs-yogurt/

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 11, 2023

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