Dannon yogurt and Lifeway kefir, two popular brands of cultured, fermented dairy products, have differences that may make you more partial to one over the other. Both yogurt and kefir are good sources of calcium, potassium, B vitamins and protein. They may be easier for lactose-intolerant people, too. The brands introduce differences that go beyond the similarities and differences in the products themselves, though.
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Culturing is the process of adding either bacteria or grain to milk to create either yogurt or kefir, respectively. The number and type of cultures and steps involved impact what ends up in your intestines and how your body responds to each food. Yogurt is boiled and cooled, before bacteria from a separate yogurt is introduced. Kefir is cultured by adding live kefir grains to fresh milk. Dannon contains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, both healthful, probiotic bacteria. Lifeway contains a symbiotic colony of about 30 different types of bacteria and yeast.
Yogurt is good for your intestines when Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria are present, live and active. When this is true, these bacteria clean out your intestines and feed other friendly bacteria in your intestines, although you have to eat yogurt daily to maintain these cultures. The National Yogurt Association provides a seal that certifies the presence of live, active yogurt cultures. Most Dannon yogurts display this seal. Kefir cultures take up residence in your intestines, so you don't have to replenish them as frequently. The bacteria continually kill bad bacteria, heal existing ulcers and improve your immune system.
The fermentation process makes both Dannon yogurt and Lifeway kefir easier for you to digest if you're lactose intolerant. Yogurt is fermented at 100 degrees F for about 8 to 16 hours. Kefir is fermented at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours. This fermentation process allows the activation of enzymes that break down lactose, the naturally-occurring sugar in dairy products that creates allergies in some people. Kefir may be easier to digest, though, because it uses smaller curds and its wider range of bacteria may break down more lactose.
While both products have many benefits, Lifeway kefir pulls ahead of Dannon yogurt as the healthier choice because of the additives in Dannon yogurt. Lifeway sweetens its fruit-flavored products with cane sugar and sometimes adds vitamins A and D to its formulas. Dannon, on the other hand, adds cornstarch, gluten, aspartame, fructose, pectin and gelatin. Gelatin, even when kosher, may be derived from fish, beef or pork.