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If this is the first you’re hearing about kefir, listen up! This fermented milk product is an even more potent source of probiotics than yogurt, making it even easier for folks on the go to get their morning gut action on.

Kefir benefits

  • potent source of probiotics
  • low in lactose compared to milk
  • high in protein, calcium, and vitamins B-2 and B-12

Kefir contains up to 61 strands of beneficial bacteria and yeasts, all of which are helpful for gut and digestive health. There’s growing research to suggest probiotics benefit mental health as well. Kefir is also an excellent source of protein, calcium, and vitamins B-2 and B-12, which your bones will love.

Although kefir tastes similar to yogurt, it has a thinner, more drinkable consistency. So think of it like your morning smoothie and try lassi, a traditional Indian yogurt drink blended with fruit (usually mango) and spices.

Good news for sensitive guts: Kefir is low in lactose, so it’s generally easier on your gut than milk. But if dairy is an absolute no-go for you, there are dairy-free versions made from coconut milk or coconut water.

To reap the full benefits of kefir, reach for the full-fat version. Full-fat kefir is a great source of calcium and vitamin K-2, which plays an important role in calcium metabolism.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup kefir (full-fat, low-fat, or nondairy)
  • 4 ice cubes
  • ½ cup diced frozen fruit (mango, strawberries, or banana) (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Pinch ground cardamom

Tip: Make your own kefir at home by mixing 2 tablespoons of kefir grains into 2 cups of milk. Place the mixture in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and let culture at room temperature for 12–36 hours. Strain out the kefir grains and you’re done!

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender until creamy.

For the most part, kefir is safe to consume, but it can cause abdominal pain or constipation in some people. Also, if you have an immune-compromising illness, talk to your doctor before drinking kefir, because the bacteria could exacerbate your condition. Kefir is made with caseins, which some people choose to eliminate from their diets. If that’s you, it’s best to choose a different probiotic drink.

Tiffany La Forge is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer who runs the blog Parsnips and Pastries. Visit her at her blog or on Instagram.