Kefir – 5 Miraculous Benefits & Nutrition Facts

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The health benefits of kefir include its ability to detoxify the body, clean out the digestive tract, eliminate harmful bacteria, improve the immune system, manage diabetes and lactose intolerance, help lose weight, boost skin and hair health and appearance, and protect against various fungal and viral infections.

What is Kefir?

Kefir is a health drink that has become known as modern day “magic milk” due to its many health benefits. It is basically milk from goats, cows, or sheep that has been mixed with kefir grains and allowed to ferment. The slightly thick, yogurt-like substance that is then created is packed with probiotics, yeast, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. It can be an option for lactose intolerant people and has been connected with a wide range of health benefits that cannot be acquired from other forms of milk or yogurt. [1]

Kefir grains are actually combinations of yeast and bacteria, along with various proteins, lipids, and sugars that form clusters of clumps of bacterial colonies within the fermenting milk, thus resulting in the thick texture of the drink.

It has been a popular drink for more than 5,000 years in the Caucasus Mountains and spread to both China and Europe during that time. It has recently become popular due to the rise of lactose intolerance and the desire for healthy alternatives to traditional food and drink. In culinary applications, it is commonly used to make sourdough bread and is a replacement for buttermilk in various recipes.

An earthenware pot of fermented milk placed in front of a jar of milk with a spoon of fermented milk placed on top

The creamy goodness of kefir. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Kefir, lowfat, plain, LIFEWAY
Serving Size :
Water [g]89.7
Energy 43
Energy [kJ]182
Protein [g]3.79
Total lipid (fat) [g]1.02
Ash [g]0.72
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]4.77
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]4.61
Lactose [g]3.7
Galactose [g]0.91
Calcium, Ca [mg]130
Iron, Fe [mg]0.04
Magnesium, Mg [mg]12
Phosphorus, P [mg]105
Potassium, K [mg]164
Sodium, Na [mg]40
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.46
Copper, Cu [mg]0.01
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.01
Selenium, Se [µg]3.6
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0.2
Thiamin [mg]0.03
Riboflavin [mg]0.14
Niacin [mg]0.15
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.39
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.06
Folate, total [µg]13
Folate, food [µg]13
Folate, DFE [µg]13
Choline, total [mg]15.2
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0.29
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]171
Retinol [µg]171
Vitamin A, IU [IU]569
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.02
Vitamin D (D2 + D3), International Units [IU]41
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]1
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) [µg]1
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.1
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.66
4:0 [g]0.03
6:0 [g]0.02
8:0 [g]0.01
10:0 [g]0.02
12:0 [g]0.03
14:0 [g]0.11
15:0 [g]0.01
16:0 [g]0.31
17:0 [g]0.01
18:0 [g]0.12
20:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.31
14:1 [g]0.01
16:1 [g]0.02
16:1 c [g]0.02
17:1 [g]0
18:1 [g]0.27
18:1 c [g]0.25
20:1 [g]0
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.05
18:2 [g]0.04
18:2 n-6 c,c [g]0.03
18:2 CLAs [g]0.01
18:3 [g]0.01
18:3 n-3 c,c,c (ALA) [g]0.01
20:3 [g]0
20:3 n-6 [g]0
20:4 [g]0
22:5 n-3 (DPA) [g]0
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0.04
Fatty acids, total trans-monoenoic [g]0.03
16:1 t [g]0
18:1 t [g]0.03
18:2 t not further defined [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total trans-polyenoic [g]0.01
Cholesterol [mg]5
Sources include : USDA [2]

Nutritional Value of Kefir

The health benefits of kefir can be attributed to its wealth of probiotic bacteria, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. These include kefiran, protein, lactic acid bacteria, polysaccharides, nicotinic acid, folate, vitamin B6, manganese, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. [3]

Health Benefits of Kefir

The health benefits of this magic milk are mentioned in detail below.

Aids in Digestion

As a probiotic-rich substance, kefir can be very beneficial for digestion and intestinal health. The probiotics eliminate a lot of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract, while also helping to absorb food in an efficient way. Furthermore, it also helps stimulate peristaltic motion and eliminate constipation.

Diabetes & Lactose Intolerance

For people suffering from diabetes, kefir can be a great way to remain healthy. Its grains are made up of sugar and lactose-eating bacteria, which means that excess sugar is removed from the system before it can flood into the bloodstream and cause the plunges or spikes in blood sugar that people with diabetes try to avoid. For those that are lactose intolerant, the lactose-eating bacteria can keep your stomach from reacting violently, while still getting your body the important nutrients from milk. As per a study published in 2015, kefir is useful as adjuvant therapy in the treatment of diabetes. [4] [5]

Boosts Immunity

Kefir strengthens the immune system because of the beneficial bacteria that helps eliminate other harmful bacteria in the body. Its antioxidant properties may also help prevent a wide variety of diseases.

Overall Health

As a very rich source of protein, kefir promotes the efficient functioning of the organ systems and can boost the body’s metabolism. Along with that, it helps wound healing, injury recovery time, and cellular growth. [6]

Heart Health

The kefiran present in kefir has been connected to suppressing blood pressure and reducing serum cholesterol. Both of those things result in a healthier heart that is less prone to conditions like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. [7]

Word of Caution: Although there are not natural dangers to taking kefir, some people do notice an increase in the frequency of their trips to the bathroom. It certainly cleans out your system! Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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