As you might be aware, probiotics are live microorganisms that have health benefits when you consume them regularly. Probiotics are usually called beneficial bacteria, as they provide all sorts of powerful benefits for your brain and body. Hence consuming probiotic foods are beneficial for your overall health. 

They can improve digestive health, reduce depression and even promote heart health. Some evidence suggests they might even give you better-looking skin. Consuming probiotics in supplement form is one popular way to get them, but you can also get them from fermented foods.

Probiotic foods 4

Here we discuss a list of super healthy probiotic foods.

Best Probiotic Foods For a Healthy Diet

Some commonly found probiotic foods are:

1. Yogurt

As you might be aware, yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics – the friendly bacteria that can improve your health. Yogurt is made from milk that has been fermented by probiotics, primarily lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria.

Therefore, eating yogurt is associated with many health benefits, including improving bone health. It is also beneficial for people with high blood pressure.

Probiotic foods 2

In kids, yogurt might help reduce diarrhea caused by antibiotics. Yogurt can even help relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

This is probably because these good bacteria turn some lactose into lactic acid, which gives yogurt its sour taste.

However, you need to keep in mind that not all yogurt contains live probiotics. In some cases, many of the live bacteria have been killed during processing.

Therefore, you should make sure to choose yogurt with active or live cultures. Also, read the label on yogurt before you buy it. Even though it is labeled low fat or fat-free, it might still be loaded with high amounts of added sugar.

2. Kefir

Kefir is a well-known fermented probiotic milk drink. It is made by adding kefir grains to goat’s or cow’s milk. Note that kefir grains are not cereal grains but rather cultures of lactic acid bacteria and yeast. They look quite similar to cauliflower. The word “kefir” is thought to come from the Turkish word “keyif” – which means feeling good after eating. 

You can indeed link kefir to various health benefits. It might help with digestive problems, improve bone health, and protect against infections. 

Yogurt is probably the best-known probiotic food in the Western diet, but kefir is a better source of good bacteria. Probably because kefir contains several major strains of friendly yeast and bacteria. Hence it is considered a diverse and potent probiotic. 

Like yogurt, you can easily tolerate kefir. People with lactose intolerance can often drink fermented milk drinks with no health problems.

3. Sauerkraut

Do you know what sauerkraut is? Sauerkraut is finely shredded cabbage that is fermented using lactic acid bacteria. It is perhaps one of the oldest traditional foods and is popular in many countries worldwide, especially in Eastern Europe.

Probiotic foods 6

You can use sauerkraut on top of sausages or as a side dish. It has a typical sour, salty taste and can be stored for months in any airtight container.

In addition to its probiotic qualities, sauerkraut is rich in vitamin C and K and is high in fiber. It is also high in sodium and contains potassium and iron. It also contains antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which are very important for eye health. Always make sure to choose unpasteurized sauerkraut. Pasteurization will kill the live and active bacteria.

4. Kimchi

Kimchi is a kind of fermented, spicy Korean side dish. Cabbage is usually the prime ingredient, but it can also be prepared from other vegetables. Kimchi is often flavored with seasonings, such as red chili pepper flakes, ginger, garlic, scallion, and salt.

It primarily contains the lactic acid bacteria Lactobacillus kimchi and other lactic acid bacteria that usually benefit your digestive health. 

Kimchi is made from cabbage. It is high in some vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, iron, and riboflavin (vitamin B2). 

5. Pickles

Pickles (also known as gherkins) are cucumbers that you preserve in a solution of salt and water. You can leave them to ferment for some time, using their own naturally present lactic acid bacteria. This fermentation process makes them sour.

Probiotic foods 7

Do you know that pickled cucumbers are a great source of healthy probiotic bacteria, beneficial for your digestive system? They are also low in calories and also a good source of vitamin K, an essential nutrient for blood clotting.

Consume in moderation as these pickles are high in sodium. Note that pickles prepared with vinegar do not contain live probiotics.

6. Traditional buttermilk

The term “buttermilk” actually refers to different varieties of fermented dairy drinks. There are two main types of buttermilk: cultured and traditional.

The traditional buttermilk is basically the leftover liquid left after making butter. Only this version contains probiotics, and it is sometimes called grandma’s probiotic. Traditional buttermilk is primarily mainly consumed in  Nepal, India, and Pakistan.

Cultured buttermilk – you can find them in American supermarkets, but they do not have any probiotic benefits. The main benefit of consuming buttermilk is that it is low in fat and calories but contains several important vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in riboflavin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and calcium.

7. Some Types of Cheese

Although most types of cheese are fermented, all the varieties do not contain probiotics. That is why it is important to look for the words “active cultures” or “live cultures” on the food labels.

The good bacteria usually survive the aging process in some cheeses, including those like mozzarella, Gouda,  cheddar, and cottage cheese. Hence these varieties are healthy. 

As you might know, cheese is highly nutritious and an excellent source of protein. Rich in essential vitamins and minerals, it includes calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus, selenium, and more. Moderate consumption of dairy products like cheese may even lower your heart disease and osteoporosis risk.  

8. Tempeh

Tempeh is a typical fermented soybean product. It forms a firm patty with a nutty, earthy flavor similar to that of a mushroom. Tempeh is unique to Indonesia but has become famous worldwide as it is a high protein meat substitute. The fermentation process is such that it has some surprising effects on its nutritional profile.

Probiotic foods 5

Soybeans are generally high in phytic acid, a plant compound that might impair the absorption of minerals like zinc and iron. However, the fermentation process typically lowers the amount of phytic acid. As a result, it may increase the number of minerals your body can absorb by consuming tempeh. 

In addition, fermentation also produces some vitamin B12, a nutrient not present in soybeans. Vitamin B12 is found in animal foods, such as fish, meat, dairy, and eggs. This vitamin-rich tempeh makes it an excellent choice for vegetarians. And also for individuals looking to add a nutritious probiotic to their diet.

9. Miso

Miso is a Japanese seasoning. You can traditionally prepare it by fermenting soybeans with salt and a fungus known as koji.

You can also make miso by mixing soybeans with other ingredients, like barley, rice, and rye. The miso soup uses this paste, a popular breakfast food typical in Japan.

Miso is typically salty. You can purchase it in many varieties, such as yellow, white, red, and brown. Miso is a good source of fiber and protein. It is also high in minerals, vitamins, and plant compounds, including manganese, vitamin K, and copper. It is linked to some health benefits.

One study reported that frequently consuming miso soup has many benefits. It is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer, especially in middle-aged Japanese women. Another study also found that women who consumed a lot of miso soup had a reduced risk of stroke. 

How to Add More Probiotic Foods to Your Diet

As you might be knowing, there is a wide range of probiotic foods available in the market. So you can include all these food items into your diet, according to your tastes.

Probiotic foods 3

Examples of ways to add probiotic foods to your healthy diet:

  • Enjoy a breakfast of probiotic yogurt with flax seeds, berries, and nuts.
  • Prepare a stir-fry, using tempeh as a meat replacement. However, the best way is to incorporate tempeh at the end of cooking, as excessive heating might destroy the active cultures.
  • Incorporate miso into soups. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests a recipe for black bean soup with ginger and miso.
  • Drinking probiotic-rich beverages, such as kombucha or kefir.
  • Serve sauerkraut as a side dish to any main meal.
  • Keep in mind that certain foods, especially yogurt, might contain added sugars.

Look for foods with minimal artificial sweeteners, sugars, and other artificial flavorings.

Probiotic foods are Incredibly healthy

There are many very healthy probiotic foods you can eat. The choice is huge. This includes numerous varieties of fermented soybeans, vegetables, and dairy. Of those, many are mentioned, but there are many more out there.

If you can not eat any of these foods, you can also take a probiotic supplement. You can shop for probiotic supplements online. Be sure to check with a doctor before taking any new supplement.

From both foods and supplements, Probiotics can have equally powerful effects on your health and digestive system.