Nutrition

What prebiotic foods should people eat?

Prebiotics are fibers and natural sugars that stimulate the good bacteria in the gut. Many prebiotic foods are suitable for vegans and people on other diets to eat. These foods include almonds, chicory, garlic, and chickpeas.

Prebiotics help beneficial bacteria grow in the gut. They work with probiotics, which are healthful bacteria or yeasts, to improve health. To date, the majority of research around gut health has focused on probiotics, with prebiotics being a relatively new area of focus.

More research is necessary to uncover all of the health benefits of prebiotics, but they are likely to be a valuable dietary component.

Many of the best-known sources of prebiotics are suitable for vegans. This article looks at 19 of these foods, which include vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Vegetables

Vegetables with a high prebiotic content include:

1. Chicory

Chicory root is high in inulin, a prebiotic fiber, making it a rich source of prebiotics.

Chicory root also aids digestion, has antioxidant properties, and can alleviate constipation.

2. Jerusalem artichokes


Jerusalem artichokes are a source of fiber and prebiotics.

Artichokes are high in fiber and low in carbohydrate.

They have a low glycemic index (GI), which helps keep blood sugar levels stable.

Jerusalem artichokes contain around 1.6 grams (g) of dietary fiber per 100 g.

Eating this fibrous vegetable can increase the number of good bacteria in the gut.

3. Garlic

Garlic is another source of prebiotics that promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and prevents harmful bacteria from multiplying.

Garlic is a nutritious food to include in the diet. In 100 g of garlic, there are:

  • 1.235 milligrams (mg) of vitamin B-6
  • 2.1 g of fiber

4. Onions, shallots, and spring onions

Onions, shallots, and spring onions all belong to the same family of vegetables.

In addition to being a good source of prebiotics, these foods aid digestion, boost beneficial gut bacteria, and have antioxidant properties.

5. Leeks

Leeks are another member of the onion family that can help people boost their prebiotic intake.

They contain 1.8 g of fiber in every 100 g.

6. Savoy cabbage

Savoy cabbage contains vitamins B and C and is an excellent source of naturally occurring prebiotics, making it good for the gut.

Raw savoy cabbage contains 3.1 g of fiber per 100 g.


Legumes

Legumes are the fruits or seeds of plants from a specific family. Legumes with a high prebiotic content include:

7. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a good food choice for people looking to increase their prebiotic intake.

They contain 12.2 g of fiber per 100 g.

Chickpeas are also rich in protein, iron, and B vitamins.

8. Lentils

Pink or red lentils are filling, easy to digest, and very healthful.

They are a rich source of fiber, containing 10.8 g per 100 g, and help stimulate beneficial bacteria as well as aid digestion.

9. Red kidney beans, baked beans, and soybeans

Red kidney beans in bowl
Red kidney beans are easy to include in a range of meals.

Beans are another type of food that can boost good gut bacteria.

Beans are high in protein and an excellent source of potassium.

The nutritional content of beans makes them a great staple food to eat regularly.

These legumes are rich in fiber too. Red kidney beans, for example, contain 15.2 g of fiber per 100 g.

Fruits

Fruits with a high prebiotic content include:

10. Bananas

Bananas are beneficial for the gut and contain naturally occurring fibers that help increase good bacteria and reduce bloating.

They offer 2.6 g of fiber per 100 g.

11. Custard apples

Custard apples have antioxidant properties that make them beneficial for heart and brain health and may help lower cholesterol.

Their prebiotic properties come from their naturally occurring fiber, which feeds the good bacteria in a person’s gut and helps fight off the harmful bacteria.

12. Watermelon

Watermelon is another fruit that contains prebiotics and can feed the good bacteria in a person’s stomach. The water content of watermelon is high, so this fruit is good for hydration too.

13. Grapefruit

Citrusy grapefruit is another ideal choice for vegans who are looking for prebiotic foods to eat. The high fiber content of grapefruit makes it beneficial for gut health, and it is also high in vitamins A and C.


Cereal grains

Several cereal grains also have a high prebiotic content, including:

14. Bran

Bran contains fiber that feeds beneficial gut bacteria.

Bran also promotes regular bowel movements and may reduce cholesterol.

15. Barley

Barley is an immune-boosting, antioxidant powerhouse and an excellent source of prebiotic fiber.

Raw barley contains 15.6 g of fiber per 100 g.

16. Oats

Oats are a beneficial choice for vegans as they offer a range of health benefits due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Raw oats contain 15.4 g of fiber per 100 g.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds with a high prebiotic content include:

17. Almonds

Almond nuts in wooden bowl
Almonds are popular as a healthful snack food.

Almonds are high in dietary fiber and a good source of prebiotics.

They contain 12.5 g of fiber per 100 g.

Almonds can add flavor and texture to a range of hot and cold dishes

In addition to their fiber content, almonds are also a good source of calcium for vegans.

18. Pistachio nuts

Pistachio nuts contain high levels of vegetable protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are an excellent source of prebiotics for vegans and can help stimulate good gut bacteria.

19. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are a versatile seed that people can include in many dishes.

They contain large amounts of fiber that helps maintain gut health and keep the digestive system running smoothly.


Takeaway

People who wish to boost their prebiotic intake can do so by:

  • eating high-fiber breakfast cereals with added nuts and seeds
  • eating whole-grain bread
  • snacking on fruits, nuts, and seeds
  • adding legumes to soups and salads
  • reading food labels and selecting products with a high fiber content

Many prebiotic foods are suitable for vegans and people following other diets, making it possible for them to eat a varied, healthful diet that also promotes good gut health.

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