If you are a dairy lover, you are surely familiar with the deliciousness of milk, yogurt, and cheese. Although kefir, a fermented dairy drink rich in many nutrients, should be on your radar too if you are focused on supporting your health while enjoying a satisfying and convenient beverage.
What is Kefir?
You have likely seen kefir in the dairy aisle, as it has become popular as of late. And while you may know that it is a dairy food, you may be wondering what makes it different than the other classic dairy foods that you may be a bit more familiar with.
Kefir is a drinkable dairy product made from a combination of milk and a starter culture that allows for fermentation. Once the drink is fermented, live cultures are present, which can offer many unique health benefits, including supporting a healthy gut microbiome.
One cup of plain kefir contains 9 grams of protein and key micronutrients, including calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and magnesium.
What are the Health Benefits of Consuming Kefir?
Dairy foods are an important part of a balanced diet, with the most current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommending that most adults include three servings of this food group daily. And while all dairy foods provide nutrients like protein, calcium, and magnesium, having kefir in your dairy food rotation can help spice up your dairy dishes and provide your body with some unique benefits.
Most notably, kefir is a source of live probiotics, or beneficial bacteria. Including certain probiotics into one’s diet consistently has been linked to a slew of health outcomes, including healthy digestion and immune support. And unlike some other fermented foods that only contain live bacteria, kefir typically contains live and beneficial yeast as well, offering even more beneficial cultures into the mix.
Including kefir into a diet may also support bone health, thanks to the handful of macro and micronutrients this food contains that have been linked to supporting strong bones. Kefir may help support weight management goals thanks to the satiating protein it provides.
Finally, kefir can act as a dairy solution for people with lactose intolerance, as this dairy drink tends to be much lower in lactose sugar than regular milk.
How to Include Kefir in Your Diet
To include deliciously tangy kefir in your diet, you don’t have to go further than pouring a serving into a glass and sipping away. Of course, you can use kefir just as you would use yogurt or sour cream in your recipes if you want that extra live culture boost and a unique taste. Try starting your morning with some Banana Bread Overnight Oats or this Hawaiian Harvest Smoothie. For a more protein-packed and savory breakfast idea, try whipping up a batch of Breakfast Power Muffins for a grab-and-go option that has kefir as the shining star ingredient. No matter how you choose to include dairy in your diet, know that it will give your body some essential nutrients and live cultures that will help you reach significant health goals in a delicious and convenient way.
Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPT is an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and freelance writer. She has been working in the nutrition field for almost 20 years and is passionate about sharing evidence-based information with the public. She manages the Instagram account @LaurenLovesNutrition.