Prebiotics are just as important as probiotics for promoting gut health.
Both prebiotics and probiotics help support the growth of healthy gut bacteria or the gut microbiome (1). Prebiotics act as the food that the bacteria in our guts need. They are a type of dietary fiber that aid gastrointestinal activity and promote digestive health (2).
Both probiotic and prebiotic foods can help maintain a healthy microbiome. A healthy gut full of good bacteria helps to prevent and even manage many chronic diseases (3). Prebiotic fermentable fiber can help with immunity and gastrointestinal issues because they alter the composition of intestinal gut flora (4).
Prebiotics are fiber that cannot be digested by the human gut (5). Instead, they are broken down by the gut bacteria to form short-chain fatty acids that have beneficial health effects (6). Before spending your money on expensive prebiotic supplements, there are many foods you can start to include in your everyday diet to get more prebiotics in your life. Most prebiotics are found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes. (7)
Summary: Prebiotics are non-digestable fiber that aids in the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Prebiotics can promote healthy digestion. Most prebiotics are found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Table of Contents
Check out the list below and see how many of these foods you can start to eat in your daily diet.
Asparagus is one of the many foods with prebiotics (8). It is not only a natural form of prebiotic fiber, but it’s also high in essential vitamins and minerals, including fiber, folate, and potassium (9).
Summary: Asparagus is a vegetable rich in prebiotic fiber. It is also a good source of folate and potassium.
Another food with prebiotic fiber is garlic (10). Garlic is an extremely healthy part of a balanced diet. It’s high in antimicrobial properties, vitamin C, manganese, and small amounts of iron and calcium (11), (12).
Garlic can be added to your daily diet to improve overall health. There is some evidence to suggest garlic may be helpful for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, although more research is needed (13), (14).
Add some beneficial garlic to your next meal to get the many health benefits.
Summary: Garlic is another food with probiotic fiber. It also contains vitamins and minerals, and is pro-ported to have anti-microbial effects.
Onions are healthy for far more than their prebiotic fiber. The prebiotic fiber in onion can help to maintain optimal functioning in the gastrointestinal tract (15).
This vegetable is high in antioxidants, making them the perfect food to fight off free radicals in the body (16). There is some preliminary evidence from mostly animal studies that compounds in onions may help to lower cholesterol, but more research is needed (17), (18). Similarly, animal studies have found that onions may also reduce inflammation, but there needs to be research on these effects in humans (19).
Use onions to cook whenever you can. If white and red onions have too strong of a flavor for you, try to eat scallions or spring onions instead. They have a much more subtle flavor.
Summary: Onions are another great source of prebiotic fiber. They also contain anti-oxidants and other beneficial compounds that may help lower cholesterol, but more research is needed to confirm this.
Honey, the sweet nectar of the bees, is a full of beneficial prebiotic fiber (20). Compounds in honey have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects (21).
How can you add more honey to your diet? Here are a few tips. Substitute your maple syrup for honey or mix them together to put on your pancakes. You can also add honey to your tea instead of sugar. Even though honey has sugar, it’s a great substitute for refined sugar options.
Summary: Honey is a sweetener that also has prebiotic fiber. There are also compounds in honey that have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Banana is high in prebiotic fiber, along with potassium, vitamin C, manganese, and many more nutrients and minerals (22).
This common fruit is can help aid digestive health. This is partly due to their prebiotic fiber content, supporting the beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome, but also because of their soluble fiber content. Soluble fiber can be helpful to soothe common cases of diarrhea (23).
Bananas are an easy way fruit to add to your routine, too. Simply add them to your breakfast cereal, oatmeal, smoothie, and much more. You can even buy tasty banana chips for a flavorful crunchy snack. Add some nutritious bananas to your diet today to get the many health benefits of this mighty fruit.
Summary: Bananas are a good source of prebiotics. They also contain potassium, vitamin C, and soluble fiber.
Beets are a vegetable with helpful prebiotic fiber (24).
This naturally bright red vegetable is a great addition to many meals. You can mix beets with potatoes, onions, and carrots, and bake them all together for a delicious vegetable medley. Just add some salt and pepper, herbs and spices for extra flavor.
Those with a certain type of kidney stones may need to beets. If you have kidney stones, ask your doctor if they are calcium oxalate stones, and you may need to avoid beets and other vegetables high in oxalates such as spinach (25). Other than that, beets are an extremely nutritious vegetable that is beneficial for most people.
Summary: Beets are a good source of probiotics. Beets are a nutritious vegetable to add to your diet. Some people who have calcium oxalate kidney stones may benefit from avoiding beets.
Tomatoes are also naturally high in prebiotic fibers, and many other essential nutrients, including vitamin C, K, folate, and potassium (26).
They are also high in the antioxidant called lycopene, which may help to reduce the risk of many common chronic diseases like heart disease, although more research is needed (27).
Summary: Tomatoes also contain prebiotic fiber, and many other essential nutrients.
Seaweed has prebiotic properties according to studies in animals (28).
It is also rich in minerals like iodine and magnesium. Seaweed also high in vitamins A, B12, C, and iron (29). Seaweed is easy to eat in the form of a crunchy and salty snack, a seaweed salad, or even soaked in rice.
Summary: Seaweed contains prebiotic fiber and beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Artichokes are full of beneficial nutrients along with prebiotic fiber (30). It has tons of fiber and antioxidants (31).
Add some artichokes to your next salad or mix them into your favorite dish. They go well with quinoa, chicken, salmon, and more.
Summary: Artichokes are a good source of prebiotic fiber. They can be added to a salad or as a complement to many grains and proteins.
Chicory is a type of plant that is a part of the dandelion family, mostly a part of salads and teas (32).
It is also high in essential B vitamins like B6, as well as manganese, and more (33). Roasted chicory is sometimes added teas and coffees for its rich and tasty flavor. Chicory coffee tastes like coffee without the caffeine or acidity.
Grab some tea or coffee with chicory for some beneficial prebiotic fiber, or throw some into your next salad.
Summary: Chicory is another source of prebiotic fiber. It can be used as a caffeine free alternative to coffee.
Soybeans are part of the legume family originating from China (34). Studies in mice have found that soybeans have prebiotic effects (35).
They are used in many ways, from eating them plain, as snacks, tofu, and soy milk. Fermented soy includes tempeh, natto, soy sauce, and miso. Soybeans are a great protein option for those who are trying to avoid meat, or strict vegans and vegetarians (36). They have impressive protein content.
Summary: Soybeans contain probiotic fiber and are an excellent source of plant-based protein.
Rich in selenium, thiamine, and manganese, rye is another source of prebiotic fiber (37).
There is some preliminary evidence that rye bread may even make you feel fuller for longer compared to wheat bread (38).
Although this bread is more nutritious than white bread, it’s not for everyone. Rye contains gluten, so if you suffer from celiac disease, this is not the food for you.
Summary: Rye is a source of probiotic fiber. There is also some limited evidence that rye bread promotes fullness after meals compared to wheat bread.
Wheat is high in prebiotic fiber, and one study found that consumption of wheat daily had beneficial prebiotic effects on gut microbe composition (39). Whole wheat is a rich source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, some protein, vitamins and minerals (40).
Although this high fiber food can have some health benefits for the gastrointestinal tract, it’s not for those who have celiac disease or a wheat allergy.
Summary: Wheat is another significant source of prebiotic fiber. It is also rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and some protein.
Milk is another source of prebiotics (41). Cow’s milk is also high in beneficial calcium, vitamin A, D, and B vitamins.
There are also prebiotics in human milk. The prebiotics in human milk help to establish a healthy gut microbiome in infants after birth (42).
Milk can be a healthy part of a balanced diet if you don’t suffer from allergies or severe lactose intolerance.
Summary: Cow’s milk is another source of beneficial prebiotics.
High in prebiotic fibers and many nutrients, peas are healthy addition to most diets (41). They are also high in selenium, folate, starch and some protein (43).
Peas are one of the easiest vegetables to consume, too. You can buy them frozen, and they will have a similar taste to fresh peas. Mix peas into any of your favorite dishes like peas, pasta, and onions, for example.
Summary: Peas are another good source of beneficial prebiotic fiber that also contains many beneficial nutrients.
The gut microbiome contains many bacteria. To promote healthy bacteria in the gut, prebiotic fiber is a food source to maintain the populations of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Many foods like the ones above are high in beneficial prebiotic fiber.
Try to start adding the foods that are right for you from this list today.