In a healthy person, beneficial bacteria are considered those that don’t allow pathogenic bacteria to form colonies. Consuming probiotic foods on a daily base is the simple and safer way to introduce beneficial organisms into our system. By doing so we improve to our digestion while boosting the entire immune system.
If you are interested in learning more about how probiotic foods help your health, I invite you to continue reading this article where you will find information that can guide you.
Here is a list of 13 super healthy probiotic foods.
Yogurt is one of the most common commercial sources of probiotics in the West. It’s produced by fermenting milk with “good” bacteria, mainly lactic ferments and bifido bacter. Additionally, yogurt may be suitable for people with lactose intolerance. This is because the bacteria turn some of the lactose into lactic acid, which is why yogurt tastes sour.
However, keep in mind that not all yogurts contain live probiotics. In some cases, they may have been eliminated during processing. For this reason, make sure you choose yogurt with active cultures, read careful the information on the package that must indicate this. Yogurt obtained from goat’s milk generally contains higher quantities of lactic ferments and lower quantities of fats and sugars, as well as being more easily digested.
Find out how to make your own homemade yogurt in the article “Easy homemade yogurt“.
Kefir is a fermented probiotic milk beverage. It is produced by adding kefir grains to cow or goat milk, there is also a water-based version. Kefir grains are cultures of lactic ferments and yeast similar to tiny cauliflowers.
While yogurt is probably the most consumed probiotic food in the West, kefir is actually a better source. Kefir contains several strains of ‘good’ bacteria and yeasts which make it a potent and diverse product .
Same as for yogurt, kefir is generally well tolerated by lactose intolerant people, and it can also be produced in the vegan version using water as a base instead of milk.
Water kefir is also a probiotic drink. Same as kombucha, it requires an initial culture of bacteria and yeast, which comes in the form of water kefir grains. These are available online, in health food stores, or from fermented food aficionados.
Water kefir grains help ferment sugar in water, milk or coconut water, to form a drink with a delicate and healthy flavor. With proper care, the grains grow regularly and survive for years.
Here is a very easy method to always have your kefir at home: “How to make kefir: easy method from commercial kefir“.
In this article we discuss perhaps the most traditional method: “How to make kefir from grains”
Sauerkraut is finely sliced cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria.
It is one of the oldest traditional foods and is especially popular in Northern Europe. They have a sour, salty taste and can be stored for months in an airtight container.
In addition to probiotic qualities, sauerkraut is rich in fiber and vitamins C, B and K, iron and manganese. Sauerkraut also contains a high content of antioxidants, including lutein, which is particularly important for eye health.
Be sure to choose unpasteurized sauerkraut if you decide to buy them, as pasteurization normally kills or degrade live, active bacteria.
Kimchi is a fermented and spiced Korean side dish. Cabbage is usually the main ingredient, but it can also be prepared with other vegetables, generally flavored with chilli, garlic, ginger, shallot and salt. Cabbage-based kimchi, just like sauerkraut, is rich in certain vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin B2, and iron.
As a kimchi lover myself, I have posted these articles that will guide you in case you wish to know more about Kimchi and how it is made: “3 Secrets to make a perfect kimchi“, “Lactic fermentation: How to make kimchi“
Tempeh is a soy-based product that is cooked and fermented with yeast that makes the soy more digestible. The result is a solid patty that can be sliced, grated, chopped or grilled. Its flavor is reminiscent of mushrooms with a hint of hazelnut.
Tempeh originates from Indonesia, but has become popular all over the world as a meat substitute for its high protein and vitamin B12 content. In fact, vitamin B12 is found mainly in foods of animal origin, such as meat, fish, dairy products and eggs.
These characteristics make tempeh an excellent alternative for those who follow vegan and vegetarian diets for example, and more generally for anyone wishing to add a nutritious probiotic food to their diet.
Miso is a Japanese condiment traditionally made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a type of mushroom called koji. Miso can also be prepared by mixing soy with other ingredients, such as barley, rice and rye.
This paste is most often used in miso soup, a very popular breakfast food in Japan. In addition to being a good source of protein and fiber, it is also rich in various vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds, including vitamin K, manganese, and copper.
Kombucha tea is made by adding a colony of bacteria and yeast to a mixture of sugar and tea, and allowing the mixture to ferment. The liquid produced from this mixture contains B vitamins and other chemical compounds.
If you are thrilled by making your own proibiotic rich Kombucha, check this article where we share our method: “How to make Kombucha Tea”
8. Fermented vegetables in brine
Naturally fermented vegetables, using the brine method, become a rich source of probiotics. Sea salt and water are used to create the brine which will activate the fermentation process which results in the proliferation of beneficial bacteria. In commercial products, vinegar is often used in the pickling process, these preparations can be just as tasty but do not contain any probiotics inside.
Any vegetable that has been pickled or fermented with bacterial cultures (in addition to salt and spices), can be an excellent source of probiotics. These foods are left to ferment in brine for some time, using the lactic ferments naturally present on the surfaces of the vegetables. They are low in calories and a good source of vitamin K and minerals, as well as containing probiotics and prebiotics.
9. Olives and Capers in brine
Capers and many types of olives are among the distinctive products of Mediterranean cuisine. When these vegetables are pickled and slightly acidified with vinegar, yeasts and lactobacillus begin to reproduce improving their nutritional properties.
Although olives are not the food with the greatest amounts of probiotics, it is worth expanding and diversifying the list of probiotic bacteria that we introduce into our bodies. Ideally these foods are artisanal products, since in industrial processes the foods are processed at high temperatures or in any case contain preservatives that inhibit the probiotic power of foods.
10. Some types of cheese
Fresh cheeses are rich in nutrients, but unlike those fermented with probiotic bacteria, mozzarella, ricotta, feta and cottage cheese do not contain probiotics. Not all types of cheese are therefore a source of probiotics, among these we find soft cheeses, Brie, Gorgonzola, Ricotta made with whey and others.
11. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an excellent source of probiotics. In addition to controlling blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels, improving insulin sensitivity, apple cider vinegar can also provide us with probiotics. Clearly the vinegar will have to be unpasteurized, only the vinegars with mother (of whatever nature they are) contain probiotics. In this regard, you may be interested in the article “Make your own apple cider vinegar“.
12. Micro algae
Considered by many to be the food of the future for their sustainability and high nutritional value, these “sea vegetables” are often referred to as a very popular super food especially in Asian cuisine where they are used in a wide variety of dishes. The most commonly consumed are Spirulina algae, Chlorella, Agar Agar, and Kombu algae.
13. Dark chocolate
Many may not be aware that chocolate is made from the fermentation of cocoa beans. Among the many varieties of chocolate on the market, dark chocolate certainly has the highest concentration of probiotics. Chocolate is also rich in flavonoids which give it antioxidant properties, helping to fight aging.
Now you have the perfect excuse to consume dark chocolate, whenever it tempts you, without having to feel guilty!