Kefir vs Buttermilk – What’s the Difference?

When it comes to dairy products, we know that they offer a lot of health benefits for our bodies. The highlight of any dairy beverage is definitely its huge amount of good bacteria or better said – probiotics. While many of you like kefir, some of you like the creamy texture of buttermilk. We can’t disagree that both of them are awesome. Buttermilk is easier to make and kefir, despite being very easy to make and ferment, is still a bit more complicated than buttermilk.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the crucial differences between kefir and buttermilk. Of course, we’re going to take a look at their nutritional value, calories, probiotic capabilities, and much more.

We suggest that you grab a cup of kefir and bear with us. This is going to be an interesting read!

Defining Kefir and Buttermilk

Cultured beverages such as kefir and buttermilk are getting more popular with each day. We love drinking some dairy beverages and as such, we tend to know more about them. You’ve probably heard about kefir and its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. Numerous studies showed that kefir is indeed a magnificent drink to have at your home. With all these good bacteria, your stomach and overall health are definitely going to have a good time.

But, what about buttermilk? Nobody speaks about its health benefits, despite being a decent beverage. Well, that’s because many people haven’t even heard of it. You’ll be surprised to know that kefir and buttermilk’s recipes are quite similar, yet quite the opposite. For the start, both beverages are made by adding probiotic bacteria cultures to fresh milk. The difference here is that kefir can be made of water. Buttermilk is still made of milk. If it could be made of water, we could call it butter…water?

Kefir is usually richer in good bacteria and cultures. As we mentioned in our previous articles, kefir has a lot of strains and yeast cultures. Unlike kefir, buttermilk comes with a single probiotic strain called lactic acid bacteria.

How are They Made?

Here’s the first noticeable difference. Kefir is made of milk or water, with added kefir grains. These kefir grains ferment for a couple of days until it’s ready to drink. Buttermilk, on the other hand, takes advantage of one very popular lactic acid bacteria – Streptococcus lactis. Don’t worry, this bacteria is used strictly for fermentation purposes and will not harm you, so you don’t have to be scared of buttermilk. Being probiotics, both kefir and buttermilk are easily digested and will improve your digestion process. They taste similar to yogurt.

Due to the aforementioned kefir grains, kefir is vastly different from yogurt and buttermilk. On top of that, kefir can be combined with various fruit flavors to accentuate and improve its yogurt-like flavor. Despite being different from the yogurt, some people still refer to it as a type of yogurt. Not to be mistaken, kefir is MUCH different from yogurt in terms of nutritional value and production process. The only similarity is the flavor, much like the buttermilk.

  • Buttermilk

Back in the days when buttermilk was still a new thing, it was made in a more ’natural’ way. Those who made buttermilk would leave the milk for a couple of days to allow the cream to separate. When the cream reaches the surface, it would be skimmed off, leaving behind the skim milk. Bacterial cultures were not added and the milk was left to ferment naturally. This process would take up to several days, which is a long time, compared to today’s standards.

Nowadays, the first half of the process can be done in two ways. It can either be done in a natural way or by skimming the excess fat chemically. When the skim milk remains, the lactic acid bacteria is added. This bacteria will make the buttermilk tart and will form more proteins. By making the milk tarter, its flavor changes and starts to resemble yogurt. Furthermore, it becomes thicker thus its name the buttermilk.

  • Kefir

Unlike the buttermilk, kefir requires kefir grains to be bought and fermented. These grains can be purchased for a cheap price and come in two conditions – fresh and dried. Dried kefir grains take longer to ferment, while fresh ones are quicker. Kefir grains are essentially colonies of bacteria, proteins, yeast, and sugars that are inserted into milk to ferment. Before it’s bottled, these active cultures are strained from the fermented milk/water, which represents kefir grains.

When the kefir grains are put into milk, the fermentation process starts. During the first couple of hours, these grains will produce bubbles in the mixture, as the cultures consume the sugars in the milk the carbon dioxide starts getting produced. When it’s fermented and the grains are dissolved, it’s ready for consuming. Kefir can be made at home or bought, it’s your choice. When buying kefir, be sure to opt for a more popular manufacturer.

Differences in Nutritional Value

What’s more likely to make you fat – kefir or buttermilk? Neither of them! Kefir and buttermilk come with a fairly identical nutritional value, with the only difference being their amount of probiotics. As we mentioned before, kefir is till the strongest probiotic out there, much stronger than buttermilk. Let’s begin with the protein content first. Protein is a very important micronutrient that lets you maintain, build, and repair muscles, cells, and various tissues in your body. Once again, we’ll take a look at the standard 8-ounce portion.

Buttermilk has around 7 grams of proteins per 8 ounces, which is very similar to kefir. It’s not very much, but if you drink these a couple of times a day, you can drastically increase your protein intake. 7 grams of protein is still a bit less than kefir, which provides 9g of protein per serving. One egg comes with around 6g of protein, meaning that 8 ounces of buttermilk is approximately one egg, in terms of protein intake. On the other side, kefir provides an amount of protein equal to 1.5 eggs.

Buttermilk also has a slightly higher amount of saturated fat per serving. Both kefir and buttermilk come with around 8g of fat. However, buttermilk has around 5g of saturated fat, while kefir has only 2g. Saturated fat is known to increase LDL in your blood and LDL is what protect your arteries. However, if this protection becomes too thick, it can lead to clogging of the arteries, leading to various cardiovascular problems. Still, the amount of saturated fat in buttermilk is minuscule and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

Finally, we need to mention the number of carbohydrates. Both kefir and buttermilk can offer pretty much the same – 13 grams for buttermilk and 15 grams for kefir. Kefir, however, has 3 grams of fiber that come from the grains used to make it. So, 12g of sugars (lactose), and 3g of fiber for kefir, which is decent.

Which One is Better?

Whether you like kefir or buttermilk more, it’s not important, as both of these are excellent for your health and for consuming some healthy calories from proteins and fats. However, it’s true that kefir possesses numerous probiotics that are beneficial for many functions in your body. Its ability to make the digestion process easier is unparalleled, as well as some anti-inflammatory capabilities. Furthermore, kefir can be applied directly to the place of inflammation to reduce it.

Buttermilk, on the other hand, is great for enjoying its creamy texture and light flavor. It’s used for ice creams, on cereal, for smoothies, as well as in some meat recipes. It also has numerous probiotics and is excellent for improving your digestion. However, its health benefits are fewer than kefir. In terms of health benefits, kefir is a clear winner. In terms of flavor, though, we can say they are almost the same.

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