What Is Kefir?

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Kefir, pronounced “kuh-FEAR,” is a tart drinkable yogurt. You might have seen the colorful plastic bottles hanging out in the dairy aisle at your local supermarket.

It’s very common throughout Eastern Europe, especially near where it originated in Russia and Ukraine, but it only became popular in the U.S. a few years ago. Since it’s a liquid, you can drink it on its own, or easily blend it into a smoothie.

Watch Dr. Travis give Rachael her first taste in the video above!

WHAT IS KEFIR MADE OF?

Like sauerkraut, kimchi, or pickles, kefir is fermented. It’s made from “grains,” which look like small pearls. These grains consist of bacteria and yeast. When they’re added to milk, it creates the lightly-fermented drink that we all know as kefir. You can make kefir with any type of milk—cow, goat, sheep, soy, rice, or event coconut!

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WHAT DOES KEFIR TASTE LIKE?

Kefir is slightly sour and tangy, and may even have a little bit of fizz due to the fermentation process. Though you can often find sweetened, fruit-flavored versions at the grocery store, plain kefir is not sweet—some people say it tastes kind of like a thinner version of plain Greek yogurt.

If you want to add a bit of sweetness to your kefir, it’s great with fruit—use in place of water in your smoothie—or eat it with cereal, like Dr. Travis recommends.

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF KEFIR?

Luckily, this tangy drink has loads of healthy bacteria for your gut!

Kefir is considered a probiotic, which means that it contains good bacteria that can support overall immune health and sometimes help relieve stomach aches, gas, or bloating. “I often recommend that people add at least one fermented food to their diets every day," says Keri Glassman, a celeb dietitian and founder of The Nutritious Life, Keri Glassman, "and it’s really easy to do."

Like regular milk, kefir also contains protein, calcium, and vitamin B12. One cup has 9g of protein and nearly a quarter of your daily recommended calcium.

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