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Yogurt Versus Kefir – Which Is Better?


Yogurt Versus Kefir – Which Is Better?

Yogurt and Kefir

Which Is Better?

So, what is the difference between kefir and yogurt? Which is better? Kefir is far superior, but yogurt has its benefits too. I read once that yogurt is like wine and kefir is more like champagne. It has more pizazz! To state it simply, yogurt felt like the first learning step in my cultured food life. I loved frozen yogurt as a child and my dad took me to the health food store many times to get a scoop of it. It was here that I discovered how cool health food stores were with their unique and healthy foods. I loved eating yogurt and breaking the curd with my spoon as I scooped it out of little containers. Little did I know it was just the beginning for me. Then I met Kefir when I needed it the most. Kefir has more strains of beneficial bacteria and good yeasts; over 50+ in homemade kefir, while yogurt only has 7 to 10. Kefir bacteria act like a SWAT team entering into the colon and attaching themselves to the colon, pushing away other harmful substances.

Can Antibiotics Kill Kefir?

It has been said that antibiotics cannot kill certain strains in kefir - it is that strong. Yogurt can help to ensure that good bacteria grows and remains stable so it, too, is important. From my own self-experimentation, I have found kefir to be of great benefit for certain afflictions. I noticed, when I first starting making kefir, and on at least ten different occasions, when I would switch from kefir to yogurt, I would start to experience joint pain in my right knee again. As soon as I would switch back to kefir, within two days the pain would go away.  I try and have kefir  daily, but it has been many years since I have experienced any joint pain even if I don't consume kefir regularly. What ever was causing the pain has healed and I live pain free.

Carb Count On Cultured Foods

The true carbohydrate count for kefir and yogurt is actually different from what is stated on the packages of most national products. When labeling a food product, the government makes manufacturers count the carbohydrates of food "by difference." That means they measure everything else including water, ash, fats, and proteins. Then, "by difference" they assume everything else is carbohydrate. This process works differently with fermented foods, but there is no way to compensate consistently for what bacteria can do, so they don’t account for this. When you make yogurt and kefir, the milk is inoculated with the lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria use up almost all the milk sugar, called "lactose," and convert it into lactic acid. It is this lactic acid which curdles the milk and gives the taste to the product. It is why it tastes sour and tart because the sugars are gone. Since these bacteria have "eaten" most of the milk sugar by the time you buy it (or make it yourself), the nutritional analysis is not really accurate and by the time you eat it, there is very little carbohydrate left. It is the lactic acid which is counted as carbohydrate. Therefore, you can eat up to a half cup of plain yogurt, or kefir, and only count 4 grams of carbohydrates. Kefir has about 1 -2 grams less than yogurt.

Probiotic Yeasts in Kefir

The other great thing about kefir is the amount of good probiotic yeasts. There is not much said about probiotic yeasts but they are extremely important. It is the good yeasts that put the fizz in kefir. They dominate and kill and control pathogens in the gut. They are the SWAT team I was telling you about. They clean house and strengthen the gut, making it harder for pathogens to dominate and parasites to exist.  So, drink your kefir and have your yogurt too. These will strengthen your whole immune system.

Purchase Starters for Yogurt and Kefir

I have kefir starters and yogurt cultures for sale in my store, and you might be able to find shared cultures too from a friend. Here are a few of the kefir starters and yogurt cultures I sell.

Kefir can be made on the counter and some of them can be made on the counter - no yogurt maker required.

Purchase Kefir Starters

Purchase Yogurt Cultures

If you live outside the USA, you might try checking one of these websites.

63 Responses to "Yogurt Versus Kefir – Which Is Better?"
  1. Hi Donna! I appreciate and love what you do so much. I’m new to kefir and have never had any food allergies or lactose issues (which I read above wouldn’t matter anyway), however, I get TERRIBLE cramping in my stomach anywhere from 4-8 hours after drinking my kefir. Usually, I mix up a large smoothie of banana and fresh organic fruit every morning and I split it with my 2 young children. I started stirring a few tablespoons of the kefir into the smoothie to ease us in. So far, I seem to be the only one with the pain, and I’m talking doubled over or on the couch. Could you give me some insight on what might be going on? Thank you!!

  2. Hi Donna. I made some kefir cheese and whey. Can I use the cheese as I would use yogurt (I love the taste of the cheese!) Also, can I start another batch of regular kefir (not curds & whey) with the whey or do I need to use regular kefir as the starter? Can I make kefir cheese using the whey as the starter?
    …so much to learn! so interesting and exciting!

    • Yes, you can use the cheese as you would yogurt.
      Are you using the powder packages or the kefir grains to make your kefir?
      No, you can’t use the the whey as a starter.

  3. First I’m thankful to u for sharing this information..my childrens r suffering from high bloodpressure doctors was not able to find any cause ..my son is 13 years old n daughter is 7 ..I get that kefir but can u plz guide me what amount should I give them or any diet plan..my childrens r not over weight n my son is on medications n they r starting medicine for my daughter too so before starting her medicine I’m looking for any other way out.

    • Start them with just a small amount, about 1/4 cup a day and then gradually Increase it to a cup a day as they get used to it. Be easy about it and I think it will really help your children.

  4. I bought Body Ecology Starter for Cultured vegetables, cultured whipped butter and sour cream, and have a few questions….When I received them, I put them in the freezer, then, about a week later,(last week) I took them out and put them in the fridge (oh, I also bought Spelt Sourdough Culture and Filmjolk Yogurt Starter), and I was wondering if I killed them, by putting them in the freezer, and, by not using them quickly. Also, I am now out of Spelt flour, and, don’t know if I should try using Whole wheat, or, if I should order more Spelt, and, if the cultures will still be viable after all this….I would love to buy your book (2nd edition)but my husband keeps a close eye on expenditures….I have not started, yet, doing any culturing;I seem to be somewhat afraid of failure, I think, although I did try making Sourdough Starter from Wild Yeasts, but, after many failures, I was told by others that it is very difficult to make a starter in this part of Michigan (N.W. lower peninsula). Just looking for “a leg up” so to speak….Thank You, Donna;You are pretty terrific to share your knowledge with so many….

    • They are probably still fine even if they were in the freezer it can diminish them but doesn’t usually kill them. I think they will be fine.

      You can use whole wheat and it will be just fine and you can switch back to spelt if you’s like.

      I had trouble making my own sourdough starter too althouhg I did finally achieve it but hated the way it made my bread taste and was much happier with a starter that had been used since the 1800’s.

  5. Donna, I asked a question about kefir a few days ago, and now I can’t find it or the answer, so I’ll ask again. I found some kefir grains I had in the freezer since 2009. Thought I’d try them out. The 1st batch took over 2 days to get thick. The 2nd batch 36 hr. It seems to smell good. Does it sound like it would be good? …and safe to use? Any thoughts on this?

  6. Very informative Donna. The recipe is easy to follow. Thanks for spreading your knowledge and helping people stay healthy. It’s best to make your own kefir since the store bought stuff is probably not good. I know someone on here mentioned the difficulty of purchasing raw milk in their state. I live in Atlanta, GA and the farm I purchase from sells raw milk for “pet usage” only, per our state law. Each state has a different law about raw milk. I read an article last year that a store owner in NY was arrested for selling raw milk for human consumption. It’s ridiculous. Some of my friends in other states do a coconut kefir if they have trouble getting raw milk.

  7. Hi Donna,
    Just like to say that you are the one who got me started making and consuming my own fermented foods. Your down to earth “how to” helped make it easy.
    I have a long standing problem with Systemic Candida and consequential secondary health problems that I have not been able to over come by simply adding fermented foods to my diet. So recently, I have significantly reduced my carbohydrate intake which does seem to be helping and has helped in the past. In my research ( which I have done a lot of) author of ‘Primal Body Primal Mind’ says “lactobacillus cannot live in pasteurized milk products, rendering most commercial yogurts ineffective..”. Here’s the kicker, I live in Canada where the sale of raw milk is illegal ( as ridiculous as it is ) and is extremely difficult to find. I use pasteurized goat milk or sometimes organic pasteurized cow’s milk to make my kefir and also coconut milk. Can you tell me if the statement of pasteurized milk is accurate? My most significant reason for consuming my own kefir is for it’s probiotic qualities. If you can, please help untangle this dilemma.
    Thank you for all your great info and encouragement.

    • In the beginning I made kefir with pasteurized milk and thrived. It can’t live in pasteurize milk it they pasteurize it after the culture has been added but adding it after transforms the milk.

  8. Hi Donna,
    I got my starters last week. My kefir is always done in about 15 hours. Do you think my kombuchie tea will be ready sooner? I started it Thursday. It tastes good now, kind of like a tart cider. It has a rubber like clear film on the top. Is it ready to put in bottles and refrigerate? I made pancakes the next morning after I got the sourdough starter. Just used regular flour. Can’t wait to get some wheat to sprout and grind and make real bread. Started my veggies fermenting yesterday. I’m guessing they will be ready sooner than 6 days.
    Thanks for the help!

    • If your kefir is done in 15 hours you need to be adding more milk. and if your kombuch taste like that it is done and good job you made kombucha! Your veggies should take 6 days is your house warmer?

  9. I live in Pennsylvania and we also have a law banning the sale of raw milk. The best I can do is organic, pastured milk at Whole Foods Market. I keep hearing various Food, Nutrition & Diet gurus tell us to use raw milk. I even hear pasteurization damages milk in a way that turns it from being a wholesome food into a destructive, inflammation triggering food. I would love to obtain some raw milk. Any way around this that you know of? I also live in big city area (Philadelphia) so no small farmer neighbors nearby. Thanks for any and all suggestions.

  10. Do you usually drain off the whey ?? I usually only make a pint of kefir at a time and use that the next day for my smoothie. I add a few frozen strawberries and a little maple syrup, but I don’t drain off the whey. If I end up having extra kefir I give it to the chickens and they seem to love it too.

    My extra grains usually go into the smoothie too when they start to multiply. I believe I read where it’s OK to eat the grains.

    Thanks !!


  11. Hello Donna, I am wondering what kefir should look like? Mine almost always turns out very thick and when I put it through a strainer it looks a but curd like. It is not smooth or bubbly. I have tried to not ferment it as long but then it seems that only part if the jar gets thick and the rest stays like milk. My grains are growing very well.

    • It can really change according to temperature and mine looks like yogurt and then after it goes through the strainer it is thinner and creamier. and when I second ferment it can get bubbly especially if I use a clamp down jar.

  12. Hi Donna,
    I just got your new book and have read most of it, great job! I have a sensitivity to dairy, even homemade kefir but I can tolerate a spoonful or so of 24 hour homemade yogurt every now and then. Is the yogurt you are referring to homemade from raw milk or store bought?

  13. In 2010, I was diagnosed with severe GERD, having a horribly ulcerated esophagus. I was prescribed Prevacid for the rest of my life. I dutifully took it, though always searching for a better way. In that time I was introduced to kefir and raw milk. I stopped taking the Prevacid after a year. I have changed my eating habits, and take 1C. kefir almost daily. Is the battle over? No. I’m continuing to heal a broken gut…but healing I am. And that is something that conventional medicine could not do, they would have me treat the symptom and never address the root cause. It took me years to get to the state I was in, it may take years to completely heal…but because of the power of the tiniest creatures I am well on my way. Donna, keep preaching the lactogospel.

  14. Hi there, I have two questions. First – I have just started making kefir with raw milk and am using sachets of kefir which I assume is not the same as actuall grains. Will these sachets have less bacteria and yeast compared to grains? I know I definitely made it into kefir. Secondly, I would also like to make kefir coconut water as a way to increase daily consumption in addition to my kefir raw milk – but I am concerned about sugar levels as coconut water is so high in sugar – how much of the sugar in coconut water gets converted? Thaks for your help Love your site x

    • Yes, the powder packages have less probiotics than the kefir grains but is still very beneficial.The sugar will be eaten out of the coconut water but it depend on how long you ferment it. It you are concerned about the sugar content the other cultured foods, milk kefir and cultured veggies are more beneficial and have very little sugar.

  15. Dear Donna, I love reading your website with all the info & recipes. I wondered if all that you write on your website as far as info & recipes is what is found in your new book. I have your first book & wondered if the two books are similar or totally different.

  16. Hi Donna
    I want to thank you for the great research work you do and great recipes you share. I too have had to change my eating habits and learn how to eat healthier. I have a mission that I want to also share. My journey on my transition to health and life, but I need help starting my blog. I could and would love it if I could get some advise from you and how to get started. Please email me if you can help thank you again for a happy gut lol.
    Have a great day 🙂

  17. Hello Donna, I drink Lifeway Keifer, how does this measure up as far as good bacteria and is the Keifer cultures that you sell better and more beneficial?

  18. Hi Donna,
    I live in Canada and cannot legally obtain raw mlk. The only full fat milk is all homogenized, both regular and organic and of course it’s all pasteurized. i’ve read conflicting reports on homogenization so am really confused on what choice to make. i really want to make kefir but don’t know what would be best: homogenized full fat milk or 2% non-homogenized? And, will the culturing make up for all the bad things they are doing to our milk. They of course alsonadd in vitamin A and D back in and I’ m not big on synthetic vitamins. how does kefir affect them?

    • I would use the 2% non homogenized milk and yes kefir will make up for the differences in the way they process the milk> it make s it a completely different food and it will greatly help you.

  19. Hi Donna, I love you site! I recently started kefir after getting some grains from a friend. They have not really multiplied much yet and it been about a week. I am using non homogenized while milk, an anaerobic jar and letting it ferment about 24-36 hours. It’s thickening slightly but not as much ass the store bought ones! This is my first adventure with kefir, so far kombucha and sauerkraut were my first fermented foods, I’m hooked! Thanks for what you do!

  20. Do you tell how to make coconut and almond milk kiefirs in your book.. could one use the regular milk kefir grains to make it?

  21. I would like to start with coconut kefir, what brand of milk do you recommend? Should it come in a carton or a can? Thank you for all you do!!!!

  22. Hi Donna,
    My dentist put me on a strong antibiotic and said i should eat yogurt since this antibiotic kills all bacteria in the body except one bad one, so I should try eating yogurt to avoid the intestinal distress that may happen. Would Kefir be more benificial in helping my gut flora bounce back quicker to help avoid the bad things that could happen because of this pill?

  23. Do you think it’s possible that normal raw grass fed fermented milk might have similar properties to kefir? I notice I feel good and calm after I drink pasteurized goat milk yogurt. I would just like to know the difference in benefits of raw fermented regular milk to kefir or whether they’re similarily beneficial, can anyone pitch in their 2 cents?

    • It has good bacteria and this can make you feel great but kefir has so many good bacterias 50+. I am a bigger believer and drink raw milk and make my kefir with it. So its a win win situation.

  24. When doctors talk about fermented foods they are talking about foods made with vinegars like pickles and they lacto fermented kind actually can cure acid reflux especially keir. I have many people who come to my class that have gotten off their medication and including my husband who no longer has acid reflux.

  25. Hi,
    This may sound like a silly question, but this is new to me. In regards to kefir containing good yeasts….would it contribute to or worsen symptoms of yeast overgrowth? Or, would the good yeasts in kefir fight the overgrowth? Similar to the good bacteria fighting bad bacteria. Thanks!

    • There are good yeast and good bacteria in kefir that balance out the problems with yeast. It worked beautifully for me and my daughter. After years of struggle and taking all kinds of expensive things to rid myself of yeast problems, they just went away when I ate these foods. My body just did it for me naturally.

  26. If you Dr. has said you CANNOT have dairy, would this include Kefir and Yogurt? Cyrex Lab test Cow’s Milk IgG and IgA and Alpha and Beta Casein IgG and IgA Out of Range for Antibodies for Gluten Associated Sensitivity and Cross Reactive foods.

    • You can always start with coconut kefir if you are allergic to dairy or cultured veggies or kombucha. These are great places to start to build up and change your inner eco system. You can also have almond milk kefir.

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