Looking for more ways to feed your gut bacteria and get prebiotics in your diet? Look no further. I’ve got a list of foods to eat if you’re looking to up your prebiotic game!
One thing you’ll notice: most foods containing prebiotic fibers need to be eaten raw to gain the full benefit. Salads are your best friend! However, if you’re not a fan of raw vegetables or if a particular vegetable’s taste is too strong, you can still get some prebiotic benefit even if they’re cooked.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. That old saying first showed up in the mid-1700s with the Welsh proverb “Eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” Our grandparents and great-grandparents knew their stuff because as it turns out, apples really are good for you. Not only are they a source of prebiotic fiber shown to encourage the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, they are also a rich source of antioxidant phytochemicals. To get the most benefit from your apple, eat it raw, with the peel. Any time you’re going to eat the peel or skin of a fruit or vegetable, be sure to carefully wash your produce, to remove any pesticide residue or bacteria. Cook’s Illustrated tested several different ways to wash produce, and found a vinegar rinse worked best.
Specifically, under-ripe bananas. You’re looking for bananas that still have a good amount of green on the skin/peel—or just buy them green and give them a day to ripen enough that they can be peeled. The fruit will be firmer and will have a slight tang to it, as opposed to being soft and sweet – you might come to find you prefer the less-ripe banana to the riper ones! But if you find the taste or texture a little strange, use them in your regular smoothie recipes. Bananas are also high in potassium, manganese, and vitamin B-6 (which helps your body grow new cells).
Fresh or frozen wild blueberries are a good source of prebiotic fiber and they’re rich in antioxidants as well. PLOS|One published a study done in 2013 that rats eating wild blueberry showed a positive change in their gut microbiota.
Onions, Raw and Cooked
When it comes to prebiotics, onions are pretty special since they retain their full benefit even when they’re cooked. If you like them raw, slice thinly and add them to salads and top your hamburgers with them. Cooked, use them wherever you normally do: in sauces and soups, in pot roasts—and they are fantastic roasted. Basically, eat more onions!
I’m not referring to the instant stuff you find in the packets. And while rolled oats are decent, if you really want to pack a prebiotic punch, you’re looking for either Scottish oats or Irish aka steel-cut oats. Because Scottish and Irish oats aren’t as processed as rolled and instant oats, they retain more of their fiber and protein than their rolled and flattened American cousins. If you do nothing else, changing your breakfast meal to include oatmeal will have a tremendous beneficial effect on your gut health.
Dandelion Greens, Raw
Many people don’t know that dandelions are edible – we consider them a weed when they are anything but! You can even pick the greens from the dandelions in your yard, provided you don’t use dangerous chemicals and pesticides. Otherwise, you can find them at organic and natural food stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Sprouts. I’ve also found them at some farmer’s markets. The taste is similar to arugula, and like other bitter greens, dandelion leaves work great as part of a salad mix. If the fact they’re a terrific prebiotic isn’t enough to convince you, how about the fact that they are also high in iron, Vitamin A, calcium, and they may be the best natural means of getting Vitamin K (a single serving of dandelion greens provides more than 500% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin K). One note: if you take a blood-thinning medication such as warfarin, talk to your doctor before you start eating a lot of dandelion greens because of Vitamin K’s effect on blood clotting.
Leeks aren’t as popular here in America as they are in other countries, which is a shame because they’re delicious! If you have trouble with onions because the flavor is too strong, try leeks: they are much milder and sweeter than onions, so you can use them in place of the onion in any recipe calling for them.
Also called a yambean, jicama is an important ingredient in Central, South American, and Caribbean cuisines, but it’s sadly not as well-known here in America. Which is too bad, because it’s a vegetable with a sweet flavor that some state is similar to that of an apple. Unlike some root vegetables, the skin of the jicama isn’t good to eat, so you need to peel it before eating. Try it thinly sliced in your salad, or cut into thin spears and use with a dip like guacamole or hummus.
The prebiotic fiber content in asparagus can be tough to eat raw, so try steaming or blanching the vegetable, or try making homemade pickled asparagus.
If you like hummus, the fact that raw garlic is a fantastic prebiotic should be great news. So grab that hummus (and try eating it with jicama or asparagus spears)! Other ways to eat raw garlic without popping whole cloves in your mouth (which I don’t recommend) is to use it in salsas and guacamoles. Garlic is also great fermented.
Jerusalem Artichoke, Raw
This isn’t an artichoke; it’s actually related to the sunflower and resembles ginger root, not the globe of “scales” that immediately comes to mind when most people think of artichokes. It got the name because its flavor resembles that of the artichoke heart. Also called sunchoke or sunroot, it’s not only a great prebiotic, it’s also high in potassium and iron. They make a great substitute for potatoes; you can roast them, or boil and mash themIncorporating the above foods into your diet will help you get more prebiotic fiber, but you’d have to eat large quantities of the above foods in order to receive a strong bifidogenic effect - which is why prebiotics like our Extra Strength Prebiotic Fiber and Oligo30™ Premium Prebiotic Fiber Blend are so good for you. Our products pack a lot of prebiotics into a single serving, and as a supplement to healthy eating, will ensure you’re getting enough prebiotics into your diet each and every day.