Many foods are beneficial for the gut, but some are better than others in terms of their abundance of live microorganisms. Eating foods rich in probiotic microorganisms can help your digestive system function more efficiently and may contribute to a healthier immune system, along with many other health benefits.
Chances are, yogurt is the first food that comes to mind when you think of probiotics. While it certainly is an amazing source of good bacteria, it’s not the only one! There are a wide variety of other fermented, probiotic foods you can include in your diet to get the gut-boosting benefits you seek. Here are six probiotic foods you should be eating:
- Miso – Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning that is a thick paste with a very salty and tangy flavor. Miso is typically made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a fungus called kojikin. Look for it in the refrigerated section of your grocery store and add it to soups or stews.
- Kefir – Kefir is made by adding kefir grains to milk, causing fermentation to occur. The thick yogurt-like beverage is packed with probiotics and protein (11 grams per cup). Available in the dairy section, Kefir makes a great breakfast on the go or bedtime snack.
- Kombucha– Kombucha originated in China and dates back 2,000 years. It’s made by fermenting sweetened black tea to create a refreshing beverage. You can find it in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even brew your own with a Kombucha brewing kit.
- Sauerkraut– Sauerkraut is more than a condiment. It is shredded cabbage that has been fermented, fostering the growth of good probiotic bacteria. Look for raw refrigerated varieties as pasteurization can destroy the probiotics.
- Kimchi – Kimchi is a popular Korean side dish served at almost every meal. Made from fermented vegetables, it gets its spicy flavor from garlic, salt, chili peppers, and vinegar. You can add kimchi to soups, sandwiches, or stir-fry. Look for it in the refrigerated section of your grocery store or in an Asian market.
- Yogurt – Yogurt is a fermented milk product made from cow’s milk, soy milk or nut milk. It is important to look for the words, “live and active cultures” on the container to ensure a healthy dose of probiotics with each serving.