Thursday, June 7, 2012

Confused About Kefir?

Have you ever looked at Canada's Food Guide and wondered what kefir (kuh-feer) is?  It's located in the Milk and Alternatives group and 175mL or 3/4 cup counts as one serving.  It has been around for thousands of years, but is still fairly new to many Canadians.

I used to think it was a texture between cottage cheese and yogurt, when in fact it is more like a drinkable yogurt.  It is available in most grocery stores and offers another way to reach your daily recommended servings. 

Historically, kefir was used in the USSR to treat stomach ulcers, gastric illnesses, chronic enteritis, bronchitis, and pneumonia (  Today, it may be better known for it's probiotic content.  Probiotics are defined as: "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host."  The dosage and strain are important as far as health benefits go. 

If you're interested in trying kefir, you may be surprised by it's tangy and almost sparkling taste - it's sometimes called the champagne of yogurts because of its effervescence.  This fermented dairy product is nutrient-rich, providing protein and calcium.  Kefir grains are rich in yeast and bacteria and are used in the fermenting process.  Kefir is also lower in lactose since the bacteria consume most of it.  Kefir can be found with different milk fat (%M.F.) levels and flavours (which increases the calories and sugar).   

You can add kefir to your cereal, drink it, have it in a smoothie, etc. , but heating it will destroy the beneficial bacteria.

Have you tried it?
I think it's a great product to add variety to your Milk & Alternative choices.  If you're concerned about your sugar intake, choose plain kefir.

Happy eating!
Steph Langdon (Wheler), RD
something nutrishus counselling & coaching