By Leslie Goldman | The Huffington Post | 11-17-11
Men’s Health Editor in Chief David Zincenko recently touted a product called kefir as one of summer’s six essential flat belly foods. But unless you hail from Russia or really pay attention when perusing the yogurt aisle at the grocery store, chances are, you’ve never heard of this 2,000-year-old nutritional rock star.
Kefir is a creamy, yogurt-like smoothie that you can drink straight from the bottle or jazz up with fruit, granola, and other fun add-ins. The taste can be addictive, but it’s not necessarily sweet like the foil-lidded yogurts you’re used to. It’s actually tangier, more reminiscent of Greek yogurt (love Chobani!) or sour cream. Besides containing less sugar and more protein than conventional yogurt, kefir is packed with probiotics (a buzzword meaning “beneficial to life” which you’ve surely read about), bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms in the intestines.
Standard yogurts only have one or a few strains of these live and active cultures — for instance, I’m looking in my fridge right now at a Berries N’ Cream Yoplait Light, and it only lists Lactobacillus acidophilus. Next to the Yoplait is a bottle of Lifeway Lowfat Pomegranate Kefir, which contains a whopping 10 strains (Lactobacillus Lacti, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium Longum, Bifidobacterium Breve, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Saccharomyces florentinus, Streptococcus Diacetylactis, Leuconostoc Cremoris, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactobacillus Case.) (Interestingly, other very popular yogurts that tout their probiotic activity, like Dannon Activia, only contain one strain of live/active cultures, Bifidus Regularis™ — a strain which Dannon selected and named.
Some other yogurt versus kefir differences that highlight kefir’s nutritional powerhouse status:
Calories: 100 (6 oz. of Yoplait) versus 160 (8 oz. of Lifeway kefir)
Fiber: 0g versus 3 grams
Protein: 5 grams versus 11 grams
Calcium: 20% Daily Value versus 30%