Yakult vs Kefir: A Brief Comparison!

Kefir and Yakult are two fermented milk drinks that are similar in preparation and benefits. Are you curious if Yakult is as good as it claims to be and can compete with kefir? Let’s find out.

If you’re looking for a probiotic drink to improve your gut health, you might be wondering if kefir or Yakult is a better option. Even though the essential ingredients are similar, the nutritional profile of Kefir and Yakult differs significantly.

Do you know the nutritional differences between kefir and Yakult, as well as the pros and cons of each drink? Kefir contains 36 different bacteria strains, whereas Yakult only has one: Lactobacillus casei Shirota. Yakult also contains a lot of sugar, which destroys all of the beneficial bacterial content.

What Exactly Is Kefir?

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that originated in the Eastern European mountains. It’s made by combining milk and kefir grains, which ferment the lactose in the milk into lactic acid. Kefir gets its slightly sour, tangy flavor from fermentation.

Kefir can be made with cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or sheep’s milk, though cow’s milk is the most commonly used.

Health benefits of kefir

Kefir’s health benefits are still being researched, but some evidence suggests it may help with:

Blood sugar level control

According to research, kefir may have a variety of benefits for people with diabetes and obesity. Kefir significantly reduces fasting blood glucose levels. [1]

Cholesterol reduction

Kefir significantly reduced total cholesterol levels in one study. Kefir’s probiotics may influence how much cholesterol the body absorbs from food. They may also impact how the body produces, processes, and utilizes cholesterol. [2]

Digestive health

Probiotic foods contain some of the same beneficial bacteria species found in the digestive tract. Kefir supplementation can improve the good-to-bad bacteria ratio in the gut. [3]

Killing Pathogens 

Pathogens are microorganisms that are harmful and can cause infections. Kefir grains were found to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus in a study. This suggests that kefir may be useful in preventing infections such as gastroenteritis and vaginal infections. [4]

Kefir risks and considerations

There may be some minor risks associated with consuming kefir. It appears to be generally safe to consume, as long as it is prepared and stored properly.

While lactose intolerant people may be able to drink some kefir without experiencing symptoms, they should be cautious not to consume too much. People who are allergic to milk should avoid kefir unless it contains non-dairy milk. [5]

People suffering from diabetes should read labels carefully and stick to plain varieties with no added sugar.

What Exactly Is Yakult?

Yakult is a Japanese probiotic drink made by fermenting milk with Lactobacillus casei Shirota bacteria (LcS). Yakult gets its slightly sweet, slightly sour flavor from fermentation. Cow’s milk is always used to make Yakult.

Yakult’s Health Benefits

Yakult, like kefir, is high in probiotics. Lactobacillus casei Shirota bacteria have been shown to improve gut health and immunity. [6]

Yakult has also been shown to lower the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea [7], and it may even help in the fight against cancer cells. [8]

What is the difference between kefir milk and Yakult?

  •   The main nutritional difference between kefir and Yakult is the sugar content. Kefir has less sugar and more healthy fats than Yakult, which has a lot of added sugar. 
  •   Kefir also has over 30 times more bacteria varieties than Yakult (which only contains one strain of bacteria).
  •   Another distinction is that kefir can be made from cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or sheep’s milk, whereas Yakult is always made from cow’s milk.

Does Yakult have kefir?

Yakult does not have kefir. If you look at the ingredients list of a typical Yakult drink, you’ll notice a few red flags instead of any healthy fermented drink – like Kefir.

  •   Water: Surprisingly, water is the first ingredient in Yakult rather than milk. Yakult is much thinner and less nutrient-dense than kefir due to its higher water content.
  •   Sugar: Sugar is the second ingredient, right after milk. Sugar harms your gut health and allows bad bacteria to thrive.
  •   Non-fat Milk: While using non-fat milk may result in fewer total calories per serving if sugar replaces the remaining calories, there is no benefit.
  •   Glucose: This is essentially another name for sugar.

Yakult does contain live bacteria, though not nearly as many as kefir. Lactobacillus Casei Shirota is the only live culture used in fermentation (LcS).

Is yakult same as kefir?

Yakult is a fermented milk drink that has been around for decades and is popular worldwide. It contains 10 billion live bacteria strains that can help your immune system.

Kefir, on the other hand, has similar probiotic benefits to Yakult but is more diverse. Kefir contains 36 different strains of beneficial bacteria that are found in healthy gut flora. Kefir, in addition to probiotics, has other health benefits due to its high calcium and protein content and lack of fat.

Yakult does not have the same flavor as Kefir. Kefir has a tangy, slightly sour taste, whereas Yakult probiotic drinks are sweeter and have less acidity.

Yakult vs Actimel vs kefir

Kefir Yakult Actimel
Lower sugar content Higher sugar content High sugar content
Made with cow, goat, or sheep milk Only made with cow milk Made with cow milk and dairy-free alternatives (i.e., almond milk and oats milk)
Over 30 bacteria variations Only one bacteria: Lactobacillus casei Shirota Only one bacteria: Lactobacillus casei strains


Which is better, Yakult vs kefir?

Overall, kefir outperforms Yakult in terms of nutritional value and health benefits. Yakult may taste seductively sweet, but this is only due to the high amount of added sugars.


What benefits does kefir have on your body?

Kefir is a nutritious fermented beverage. This product is traditionally made from dairy milk, but there are numerous non-dairy alternatives. According to research, it boosts your immune system, helps with digestive issues, improves bone health, and may even fight cancer. [9]

How much Kefir should you consume per day?

Kefir can be a nutritious and tasty addition to a well-balanced diet. Stick to 1–3 cups (237–710 mL) per day for best results, and pair it with a variety of other fermented foods and beverages to increase your probiotic intake.

Should you drink kefir or take probiotics?

Kefir grains are concentrated bacteria strains that have been linked to a variety of health benefits, including gut health. Kefir, unlike yogurt, contains multiple strains of yeast and bacteria, making it healthier than your typical probiotic dairy intake.

Is kefir better for you than yogurt?

The main nutritional distinction between the two is that kefir contains more probiotics than yogurt. While yogurt contains some probiotics, kefir contains more. Kefir is a better choice if you want to improve your digestion or gut health.

Does kefir contain gluten?

Kefir grains are not related to wheat or oats.  This means that a traditional kefir drink is made with only milk and live cultures contain no gluten.

Some brands, however, may use oats and other gluten-containing products to add flavor or change the texture of the liquid. Before making a purchase, always read the label.

Wrapping Up

Kefir is a fermented beverage with live bacteria and yeast. According to some studies, these microbes may be beneficial to health. They may aid in blood sugar control, digestive health, and cholesterol reduction. [10]

Kefir outperforms Yakult in terms of nutritional value and health benefits. Yakult may taste seductively sweet, but this is only due to the high amount of added sugars. Kefir milk is a good source of protein, calcium, and potassium. Plain milk kefir has low sugar and fat content. Kefir can be consumed in the same way as yogurt is.


  1. National Library of Medicine. “Kefir in the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders”. Pubmed.gov.
  2. National Library of Medicine. “Kefir drink causes a significant yet similar improvement in serum lipid profile, compared with low-fat milk, in a dairy-rich diet in overweight or obese premenopausal women: A randomized controlled trial”. Pubmed.gov.
  3. National Library of Medicine. “Kefir Supplementation Modifies Gut Microbiota Composition, Reduces Physical Fatigue, and Improves Exercise Performance in Mice”. Pubmed.gov.
  4. Analy Machado de Oliveira Leite. “Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage”.    Braz J Microbiol vol 44(2) (2013). 341-349.
  5. Mohamed A. Farag. “The Many Faces of Kefir Fermented Dairy Products: Quality Characteristics, Flavour Chemistry, Nutritional Value, Health Benefits, and Safety”.    Nutrients vol 12(2) (2020). 346.
  6. Yuying Liu. “Probiotics in Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disorders”.    Nutrients vol 10(10) (2018). 1537.
  7. National Library of Medicine. “BOOKS: Can probiotics help against diarrhea?”. National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  8. Katarzyna Śliżewska. “The Role of Probiotics in Cancer Prevention”.    Cancers (Basel) vol 13(1) (2021). 20.
  9. National Library of Medicine. “Effects of a kefir supplement on symptoms, colonic transit, and bowel satisfaction score in patients with chronic constipation: a pilot study”. Pubmed.gov.
  10. National Library of Medicine. “The Microbiota and Health Promoting Characteristics of the Fermented Beverage Kefir”. National Center for Biotechnology Information.
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