Kefir is a drinkable yogurt hailing from Eastern Europe that’s praised for its high probiotic and protein content. While it’s quite comparable to its custard-like cousin, yogurt, most kefirs are brimming with at least 10 different probiotic strains (while yogurt contains around two to three)—which are beneficial for maintaining healthy immune and digestive systems—as well as a solid dose of your daily value of disease-deterring calcium.
What’s more, kefir boasts energy-boosting B vitamins as well as heart-protecting potassium and is found to be more easily digestible than yogurt. “Since kefir has fewer milk sugars than regular milk, many people who don’t tolerate milk well can sip kefir without an issue,” Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. tells us. Start sneaking this fermented superfood into your diet with these go-to picks. Since most of these best kefir brands have no added sugar, you’ll want to customize your kefir to your liking by tossing in natural sweeteners such as fiber-filled fruit, which feed the good gut bacteria, and nuts and seeds for crunch.
And if you want healthy recipes, supermarket shopping guides, and essential nutrition tips at your fingertips, subscribe to the new Eat This, Not That! magazine now!
1. Maple Hill Organic Whole Milk Kefir, Plain
per 1 cup: 180 calories, 11 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 120 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (0 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 9 g protein; 30% DV calcium
Maple Hill’s organic whole milk kefir will lend homemade marinades and salad dressings an irresistibly creamy texture thanks to the healthy fats. Maple Hill uses 100 percent grass-fed milk, which results in a rich flavor and higher levels of fat-incinerating omega-3s and CLA than regular milk.
2. Lifeway BioKefir, Vanilla
per bottle (3.5 oz): 60 calories, 0 g fat, 50 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (2 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 5 g protein, 15% DV calcium
Not craving an entire glass of kefir? This portable, 3.5-ounce shot is packed with twice the amount of probiotic activity than Lifeway’s regular kefir—50 billion units to be exact—in addition to two grams of satiating fiber coming from organic inulin and is sweetened with a touch of cane sugar. Chug this pick on-the-go or store it in the breakroom fridge to beat midday doughnut cravings.
3. Redwood Hill Farm Plain Kefir
per 1 cup: 140 calories, 8 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 120 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (0 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 8 g protein; 30% DV calcium
Redwood Hill Farm’s award-winning kefir boasts the lowest naturally-occurring sugar content thanks to its use of organic, humane-certified goat milk. Besides being more easily digestible, a study in the Journal of Dairy Science found that goat milk can increase the absorption of anemia-fighting iron and collagen-forming copper, giving you another reason to pour this pick over a cup of granola.
4. Lifeway Helios Greek Kefir
per 1 cup: 120 calories, 0 g fat, 120 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (2 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 16 g protein; 30% DV calcium
Wrap up your workout with a cup of Lifeway’s fat-free, Greek kefir. It’s brimming with seven probiotic cultures as well as an impressive 16 grams of protein to help build and maintain strong muscles. While enjoying this fermented drink for breakfast is a no-brainer, you can also use it as a lower calorie, nutrient-dense substitute for buttermilk in baking.
5. Green Valley Creamery Organic Lowfat Kefir, Plain
per 1 cup: 130 calories, 2.5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (11 g sugar), 11 g protein; 40% DV calcium
To ensure their probiotic beverage is completely lactose-free, Green Valley Creamery adds the lactase enzyme to organic milk and cream before culturing it. That way, even lactose-intolerant folks can satisfy their taste buds without compromising calcium, protein, and probiotics.
6. Lifeway Perfect12 Kefir, Key Lime Pie
per 1 cup: 110 calories, 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (0 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 11 g protein; 30% DV calcium
With this tangy yet sweet kefir, you can have your cake—er, pie—and eat it too. Lifeway injects its probiotic blend with natural key lime flavors and zero-calorie stevia for a satisfying flavor without the waist-widening sugar content.
7. Evolve Plain Kefir
per 1 cup: 110 calories, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (0 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 11 g protein; 40% DV calcium
Evolve’s creamy kefir is crafted with 11 live and active cultures that work to keep your skin clear and your gut regular. It’s made with just four wholesome ingredients in addition to probiotics: cultured grade A low-fat milk, non-fat milk, and vitamins A and D3, as well as tops our list with a whopping 40 percent of your daily value of bone-building calcium.
8. Wallaby Organic Lowfat Aussie Kefir, Plain
per 1 cup: 90 calories, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (0 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 8 g protein; 30% DV calcium
Wallaby’s Australian-style tubs are crafted in small batches with organic milk, which lends the cultured drink a creamy texture without too much tart. Pair this Aussie sip with sliced nectarines, a handful of walnuts, and banana chunks for a balanced breakfast.
9. Lifeway Lowfat Kefir, Plain
per cup: 110 calories, 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (0 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 11 g protein; 30% DV calcium
Build a better smoothie bowl by blending a cup of this low-fat kefir with a handful of fruits and leafy greens, and benefit from 12 strains of gut-loving probiotics in addition to 30 percent of your daily value of bone-building calcium. This pick is plain as it is versatile, so you can feel free to pour it into any of our 23 Best Protein Shake Recipes for Weight Loss.