Kefir, a fermented milk drink that is similar to drinkable yoghurt, is believed to have originated in the Caucasus – the region between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea – thousands of years ago. “Yogurt is the best-known probiotic food in our diet, but kefir is a much more potent source of probiotics and is a good source of calcium, especially for those with lactose intolerance,” says Lina Doumani, a clinical dietician at the Cooper Health Clinic, Dubai. Traditionally made from cow’s milk and kefir grains, nowadays it is also made with sheep’s milk and non-dairy milks such as soy, coconut and almond. Kefir grains aren’t grains in the true sense of the word. They resemble grated cauliflower and are a combination of live bacteria and yeast that promote fermentation.
It’s a good idea to introduce this versatile beverage into your daily diet. “The anti-microbial effect of kefir aids in maintaining the integrity of your gut, improving the gastrointestinal immune system against food-borne infections like salmonella and e-coli,” says Keren Gird, senior dietician at Beyond Nutrition, Dubai. You can use unflavoured kefir drinks as a substitute for buttermilk and yoghurt in some recipes. It can be used in salads as a base for creamy dressings, in smoothies to boost your probiotic intake and in baked goods like cakes and breads.
DID YOU KNOW?
Kefir is an excellent source of a number of vitamins, including B12, B1 and K. It also supports a healthy nervous system as it contains high levels of calcium and magnesium.
Make your own kefir at home following our recipe