If you know about the beneficial effects of probiotics, but aren’t sure what the best probiotic foods are? Well, you’re not alone. Although probiotics have become quite popular nowadays, the truth is that scientists are still trying to uncover all its benefits, uses, and sources.
While some sources of probiotics may be familiar to everyone, some of them will surprise you. If you are looking to consume more of the best probiotics through food, then this article will be of great help.
What Fruits and Vegetables Are High in Probiotics?
When you eat a plant-based diet, your body develops with regular exposure to both probiotics and prebiotics that are necessary to digest these foods properly. That said, not all fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of probiotics. In fact, you will have more benefits from consuming fermented fruits and vegetables, because fermented foods are known for being high in probiotic content.
A study from the Biotechnology Research International showed that fermented fruits and vegetables can be used as a potential source of probiotics due to the fact that they harbor several lactic acid bacteria like Lactobacillus plantarum, L. pentosus, L. brevis, and many others. Asian countries are well-known for their consumption of fermented fruits and vegetables.
Here are some examples of foods rich in probiotics:
- Gundruk – an unsalted, fermented and acidic vegetable product that originated in the Himalayas. It is considered as one of the national dishes in Nepal. To make gundruk, it is necessary to use the fresh leaves of mustard, cabbage, cauliflower. You can easily find recipe for this dish, and it has numerous variations
- Kimchi – a staple in Korean cuisine, a side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables most commonly green onion, radish, Chinese cabbage (beachu), red pepper powder, garlic, ginger, and fermented seafood
- Sauerkraut – or sour cabbage, rich in Lactobacillus bacteria which boost the healthy flora in your intestinal tract, strengthen the immune system, and improve overall health
- Shalgam juice – popular in Turkey, prepared from the mixture of black carrot, bulgur (broken wheat) flour, turnips, salt, and water. Besides the Lactobacillus strain, the juice also contains Pediococcus bacteria
- Yan-Taozih – or pickled peaches, fermented together with pickled plums. They contain Lactobacillus strain as well as Leuconostoc mesenteroids, Weissella cibaria
- Yan-Tsai-Shin – or fermented broccoli stem
Moreover, fermented apples can also pose a great source of probiotics like many other pickled or fermented fruits and vegetables. If the above foods are not to your taste, however, you can find probiotics in some fresh, raw vegetables as well. For instance, green peas – contain Leuconostoc mesenteroids, a potent probiotic that stimulates your immune system. Let’s not forget that an excellent sources of probiotics are pickles and olives in brine as well.
Other Foods With High Amounts of Natural Probiotics
Probiotic content is not only characteristic for pickled or fermented goods, you can also find it in many other foods, including these:
- Dark chocolate – scientists call it a superfood for a good reason; not only is dark chocolate abundant in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, but it is also a great source of both probiotics and prebiotics. To get higher probiotic content, make sure you opt for dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or more
- Greek yogurt – one of the most popular probiotics, made of two strains of bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptoccocus thermophilus in pasteurized milk
- Kombucha – a fermented drink made with green and black tea and a symbolic culture of bacteria and yeast or SCOBY
- Beer and wine – both of these alcohol beverages are fermented meaning they do provide certain probiotic content when consumed in moderation. Of course, you shouldn’t turn to them as your go-to solution for getting more probiotics into your system
- Natto – this Japanese dish of fermented soybeans is a powerful source of gut-healing bacteria that keep inflammation at bay, and help the skin
- Kefir – a dairy beverage, which is perfectly safe for individuals who are lactose-intolerant. It contains several major strains of good bacteria and yeast, which is why kefir is a diverse and powerful probiotic
- Miso – a Japanese seasoning and soup traditionally made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a fungus called koji. Besides being a powerful probiotic, miso is abundant in fiber and protein
- Sourdough bread – you guessed it, the probiotic effect comes due to the fermentation process. Plus, because the starches from the grains are predigested by bacteria, it is easier for your body to digest this bread than “regular” white bread
- Raw cheese – soft cheeses are particularly high in probiotics including Bulgaricus, Thermophillus, Acidophilus, and Bifudus. That said, if you want to supply your body with probiotics, opt for raw, unpasteurized cheese
Other good sources of probiotics are tempeh, microalgae, soy milk, apple cider vinegar.
Does All Yogurt Have Probiotics?
When it comes to probiotics, the most popular source of these live microorganisms is, by far, yogurt. Yogurt is made from milk that is fermented by good bacteria, primarily bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria. Since yogurt is beneficial for your digestive health and is marketed as a great way to get more probiotics to support immune system or lose weight, it is easy to conclude that every yogurt is the same in this aspect. However, that is not correct!
Not every yogurt is the same, and not all yogurts have probiotics. In some instances, the live bacteria are destroyed during processing. That is why it is your “job” to make sure you buy yogurt with live or active cultures; reading labels is essential here. To get probiotics from yogurt, it is recommended to choose plain yogurts without any added sugars and flavors.
You can supply your body with probiotics through diet or supplements. When it comes to food, fermented or pickled goods are a safe bet that you’ll get your fair share of these live bacteria.
Naturally, you can also find probiotics in cheese and yogurts. Since buying yogurt is the easiest way to get your probiotics in, be sure to read the labels and choose your yogurt wisely next time you’re at the supermarket.