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Are Kefir Grains Really Healthy for You?

author image Stephanie Ann Scott
Stephanie Scott is a nutritionist and certified personal trainer who has been writing since 2004. Her work appears in the "Santa Monica Daily Press," "Santa Monica Mirror" and "Health Magazine." Scott received her Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Western Michigan University and certifications from the American Council on Exercise, Aerobic and Fitness Association of America and National Academy of Sports Medicine.
Are Kefir Grains Really Healthy for You?
Kefir can be used to make homemade smoothies. Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Kefir is a slightly sour, fermented dairy product that resembles the texture and consistency of a drinkable yogurt. Kefir can be made using any type of milk -- cow, goat or sheep. Kefir is easily digested and is naturally high in protein, B vitamins, minerals and probiotic or good bacteria. Kefir can be a healthy alternative to yogurt due to it lower sugar content.


Homemade Kefir

Kefir, a fermented or cultured milk product, is made by soaking the kefir grains, also called "starter cultures," in any type of milk for a minimum of 24 hours. The friendly bacteria in the kefir grains consume the lactose during the lactic-acid fermentation process, leaving behind galactose, a monosaccharide sugar. You can re-use the kefir grain cultures again to make additional batches of kefir.

Probiotic Benefits

According to registered dietitian Kerri Napoleon, in an article for Cenegenics Jacksonville Medical Institute, kefir is a natural probiotic that contains 7 to 10 billion colony forming units of good bacteria. The strains of bacteria present in kefir are more potent than probiotics in yogurt or supplements and actually recolonize the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal system, improving digestion.

Improved Blood Sugar Levels

Kefir, like milk, is low on the glycemic index. Low-glycemic foods may regulate the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas, proving helpful to those with diabetes mellitus. According to a study in the "British Journal of Nutrition," the benefits of low gylcemic foods include controlling food intake and promoting feelings of satiety.

Uses of Kefir

Due to its high protein content, kefir is suitable as a meal replacement beverage. You can drink kefir by itself in its natural state. However, if you find the taste too sour to drink by itself, combine kefir with fruit to make smoothies, homemade bread or other baked goods.

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