What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria cultures shown to support gut health by controlling the growth of harmful bacteria and even proving to improve immune functions. In fact, probiotics have shown to alleviate associated symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and reduce acute diarrhea in children, prevent foodborne illnesses by inhibiting Salmonella and Helicobacter pylori and exerting an anti-inflammatory response, and reduce the risk of infections and incidences of the common cold. There is also slim but significant evidence suggesting probiotics may support weight loss by balancing out the microbiome, which encompasses trillions of microorganisms living in the body.
But probiotics should not be confused with prebiotics, which are indigestible carbohydrate and fiber foods sourced by asparagus, bananas, oatmeal, legumes, and other fiber-filled plants. Nonetheless, prebiotics feed and help these 12 foods high in probiotics be more efficient in carrying out their righteous job!
12 Foods High in Probiotics
While you may have already tried this high probiotic food based on its popularity and familiarity, yogurt should be kept in your “regular” diet rotation. Yogurt is essentially fermented milk commonly containing the live and active cultures Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei shown to support gut health. Going for a plain Greek yogurt limits added sugars, enhances protein content, and spoons out their notorious health benefits, including bowel regularity, muscle growth, and bone support.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink produced with kefir “grains,” primarily consisting of a SCOBY (an acronym for a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), which are key in separating it from standard milks. The added bacteria make kefir an excellent probiotic food source to promote a healthy gut and digestive system, along with relieving a wide variety of intestinal disorders, flatulence, and bloating. In addition to gut health, the benefits of kefir include include supporting strong bones, fostering a strong immune system, maintaining and growing muscle, encouraging weight loss and maintenance, and boosting mood.
Pronouced kawm-boo-chah, kombucha is “a live culture of multiple species of yeast and bacteria grown to make a mildly alcoholic fermented beverage.” (Or really just a concoction of healthy bacteria, tea, and sugar.) One of the most recognized, favored, and explored benefits of kombucha relates to gut health thanks to its probiotic content, with evidence supporting its use in treating diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. Jumping on the kombucha craze may also strengthen the immune system, boost energy, reduce chronic disease risk, and promote a healthy weight.
4. Cultured Cottage Cheese
Although not all cottage cheese supplies healthful probiotics, cultured products do (just be sure to check the package labels for live and active cultures to verify). Cottage cheese is an undoubted healthful calcium-packed, probiotic food option, supplying a mere 80 calories, 3 grams of carb, and a whopping 14 grams of protein per ½ cup. Enjoy as, pair with one of these 10 low-carb fruits, or offer a savory touch with cucumber slices and pepper.
When it comes to which soy-based protein is the healthiest, tempeh is considered to be more nutritionally-packed in regards to protein, fiber, and healthy fat compared to tofu. But aside from its macronutrient volume, tempeh grants greater probiotic potential related to the fermentation process it undergoes. Nonetheless, the probiotic food is vegan-friendly and offers numerous uses in the kitchen, including throwing into soups, salads, casseroles, smoothies, and sauces.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
If unfiltered and unpasteurized, a component known as a “mother” forms in apple cider vinegar (ACV). The “mother” is compiled of proteins, enzymes, and healthful bacteria noted to offer bowel regularity. But the reasons to use ACV extends beyond gut health and includes blood sugar regulation, food preservation, taste amplification, odor reduction, and house disinfection.
Kimchi is a staple of Korean cuisine and dish of fermented veggies, including a mix of napa cabbage and daikon radish described in this recipe. Research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food touts the health functionality of kimchi includes anticancer, antiobesity, anticonstipation, colorectal health promotion, probiotic properties, cholesterol reduction, fibrolytic effect, antioxidative and antiaging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion.
Miso is a traditional Japanese paste and seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with rice or barley, salt, and a fungus. Whereas miso is mostly known for its use in soup, the probiotic food can also flavor marinades, salad dressings, stir fries, and burgers.
Nattō is a customary Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis var. natto and regularly consumed as a breakfast food served with rice, soy sauce, karashi mustard, rice. Nevertheless, nattō has also been touted to support gut, bone, and heart health to those who enjoy its mild, yet earth flavor!
Traditionally consumed in German cuisine, sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage frequently used to style American hot dogs. The probiotic food not only benefits and satisfies the stomach with these 25 ways to use sauerkraut, but offers immune-boosting vitamins that can help ward off infection.
11. Sourdough Bread
The next time you make a sandwich, you might want to pay more attention on what bread is holding your deli meat, cheese, and veggies. The tangy flavor of sourdough is indicative of the fermentation process it undergoes, which ultimately produces a probiotic food to enjoy for your next BLTSP (bacon, lettuce, tomato, and sour pickles… Read on)!
12. Sour Pickles
Top that sandwich of any sort with sour pickles! Naturally-fermented pickles with filtered water and salt are a
Vlasic classic probiotic food. Although products with vinegar tend to lack the beneficial bacteria, learn how to pickle for probiotics in the comfort of your own home!