Top 16 Foods Containing Probiotics
Top 16 Foods Containing Probiotics
Consuming probiotics (beneficial bacteria) is a great way to boost your immunity, improve your gut health, support weight loss and ward off yeast infections and Candida overgrowth. You can take probiotic supplements, but why not simply incorporate a variety of probiotic-rich foods in your diet? Unlike probiotic supplements, most of these foods provide billions of live probiotic cultures and they’re 100% natural.
When buying foods with probiotics, always remember to read the label and pick products that don’t contain artificial additives and preservatives. Make sure the ingredients are organic and unpasteurized, as high temperature used for pasteurization kills probiotic cultures.
Let’s have a look at my list of 16 probiotic-rich foods you can start eating today for a healthy gut:
Sauerkraut is finely cut cabbage fermented by different strains of lactic acid bacteria and it’s very popular in Eastern European and Germanic cuisines. Many nutritionists consider fermented cabbage the queen of probiotic-rich foods.
Studies show that 4 to 6 ounce of sauerkraut contains ten trillion live and active cultures of lactic acid bacteria, surpassing substantially any probiotic supplements available. Apart from being an excellent source of probiotics, sauerkraut is rich in vitamins A and C and has got great anti-inflammatory properties.
The process of fermentation breaks down the cell walls of cabbage letting it release 200 more vitamin C than raw cabbage. If you’re into Asian food, you can also try Kimchi, a Korean, spicy and chunkier version of Sauerkraut.
Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that comes from Indonesia. Apart from being rich in probiotics, it contains high levels of protein, vitamins (especially B12) and minerals. Tempeh is a very versatile food which can be used as a meat replacement, added to salads, stews, and sandwiches to boost your gut health.
Microalgae, such as spirulina and chlorella, are one-cell organisms found in fresh water and salt water. It’s usually available as a powder so it’s easy to add it to your morning shake or yogurt for an extra probiotic kick. Spirulina and chlorella are believed to boost the immune system and increase the production of antioxidants in your body.
Studies show that spirulina can stimulate the growth of lactic acid bacteria in your body. So although spirulina is not a probiotic, it boosts probiotic growth enabling them to multiply and colonize your body to protect it from diseases.
Pickled cucumbers are a rich source of probiotics thanks to the fermentation process. When cucumbers are placed in the brine, the bacteria that naturally occur on their skin starts to react producing carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
Once the brine becomes too acidic, these bacteria die out giving place to other bacteria, such as Lactobacillus to multiply. These beneficial strains of bacteria will help you maintain a healthy gut and ward off harmful bacteria.
Olives in Brine
Studies show that one olive in brine may have up to 100 billion Lactobacilli residing on its skin. Apart from probiotics, olives in brine contain high levels of fibers and antioxidants.
Studies show that some strains of bacteria that take part in the fermentation process can inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pyroli, a bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.
Kefir is a fermented dairy product, similar to yogurt. It’s fermented milk made with kefir grains. Its texture is similar to that of natural yogurt, however, the taste is more sour and carbonated. It’s recommended for people with lactose intolerance because it’s very low in lactose.
It’s also possible to make water kefir or coconut kefir with no dairy at all. You can also add lemon or figs for a more interesting taste. Kefir has got a very high concentration of probiotics, from 1 million to 1 billion CFU per milliliter so it’s bound to improve your gut health.
The most common probiotic strains found in kefir include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens, Lactococcus lactis, and Leuconostoc species.
Apart from that its a great source of vitamins and amino acids. If you don’t like the taste of kefir on its own, you can add some coconut milk to make coconut kefir, yummy!
Natto is a Japanese dish made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis. Its unpleasant smell and gooey texture make it a rather acquired taste, you’ll either love it or hate it. Natto is a rich source of Bacillus subtilis, a probiotic that improves IBS symptoms, boosts your immunity and treats gastrointestinal conditions.
Apart from that, this probiotic food is very high in calcium, proteins, and vitamins, especially vitamin K. It’s actually got more calcium than milk, so go on give it a try!
Miso soup is a Japanese staple food. It’s made using miso paste, a salty paste made from fermented soybeans or other grains such as fermented barley or rice.
Miso paste is rich in Lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic that will boost your immunity and digestive health. However, due to high levels of salt, it’s not recommended for those suffering from hypertension.
Soy sauce, like other fermented soybean products, contains probiotics. However, you have to choose only high quality, naturally fermented and unpasteurized sauces.
Most soy sauces you can buy in stores contain only a little amount of fermented soy sauce, the rest are flavorings, artificial colorings, and sugar. They are also heavily processed which eliminates all nutritious ingredients, including probiotics.
Kombucha is a drink made of tea and sugar fermented by scoby, a mixture of bacteria and yeast. It contains a high count of the following probiotic strains: Gluconacetobacter, Acetobacter, Lactobacillus, and Zygosaccharomyces helping you to boost your immunity and support your digestive system.
You can buy scoby to make your own kombucha, or buy ready-made kombucha in a health store. This probiotic food has got a sour, tart and slightly sweet taste so it may take time getting used to. Start drinking it every day for the amazing health benefits it offers and you’ll start to love it in no time.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider contains both probiotics (such as Lactobacillus and Oenococcus, see study here) and pectin, a substance that probiotics feed on, helping them colonize your gut and protect you from harmful yeast and bacteria.
For best effects, drink unfiltered, unheated and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar every day.
Raw Cheese and Soft Aged Cheese
Raw cheese is made from fermented unpasteurized milk. The kinds of raw cheese with the highest count of probiotics include Goat’s milk cheese, sheep’s milk cheese, and A2 cow’s soft cheeses. These cheeses are rich in L. thermophillus, L. bifudus, L. bulgaricus and L. acidophilus. These probiotics will helps suppress the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast.
Always choose unpasteurized cheese, otherwise, it won’t have any live probiotic cultures in it.
Kvass is a fermented beverage made from rye bread, very common in Eastern European and some Asian countries. It’s especially popular in Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan. It’s an excellent source of various probiotic strains and it’s a great thirst quencher due to its tangy and salty taste.
Kvass contains 0.5 to 1% of alcohol, however, it’s not considered an alcoholic drink. Apart from tradition bread kvass, there’s also beetroot kvass and sauerkraut kvass. So you can try all three of them and choose your favorite probiotic drink.
Surprisingly, recent studies have found that green peas are a rich source of a probiotic strain called Leuconostoc mesenteroides. This beneficial bacteria has been shown to increase IgA antibodies in your immune system by improving the function of your mucosal barrier. It helps you fight off yeast infections, colds, and other bacterial infections.
However, if you want to take advantage of green peas probiotics, you have to eat it raw. The cooking process will kill the probiotics, so better add it to salads or eat it on its own as a snack.
Yogurt is another fermented dairy product made from cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk is particularly high in probiotics. It’s important that the yogurt you choose has not been pasteurized. Also make sure it doesn’t contain any added sugar or fruit, as it’s usually processed and of poor quality.
To ensure that your yogurt has got the maximum probiotic count and has not been processed, make your own yogurt from raw milk. You can buy an easy to make yogurt starter on Amazon. Once your yogurt is ready, you can add your favorite fruit, or use it to make a delicious smoothie. This way you can be sure that it contains live and active cultures of probiotics.
Umeboshi plums are Japanese pickled plums and they offer many health benefits. Apart from probiotics and antioxidants, they contain substances that will help you prevent stomach ulcers and heart disease.
Due to their salty and sour taste they may be an acquired taste, they’re best enjoyed with rice. It’s a great probiotic-rich food to support weight loss and boost your immunity.
As you can see there’s a wide selection of probiotic-rich foods, so you’re bound to find something you like. For some of you the taste of fermented food may seem strange or even unpleasant at first, but give it a go a few times and you may fall in love with this acidic taste.
If you’re into cooking, you can prepare foods with probiotics on your own at home. You’ll need basic equipment, such as jars, a little bit of spare time on your hands and passion for homemade food to enjoy all probiotic benefits. If you need inspiration (and instructions) check “DIY Fermentation: Over 100 Step-By-Step Home Fermentation Recipes” book available on Amazon.
Have you tried any of the foods I recommend? Do you know any other foods containing probiotics? Share your experiences and questions in the comment section below.