Foods Containing Prebiotics

Top Foods Containing PrebioticsThe importance of probiotics has long been known. These live bacteria have proven beneficial for combating issues within the gastrointestinal tract and keeping the digestive system in a happy place. They also play an important role in strengthening your immune system. Probiotics are found in the cultures of dairy products, including yogurts. However, the cousins of probiotics — namely prebiotics — are much lesser known, though this is changing with each passing day.

Through this guide, you’ll get to know prebiotics, including how they’re related to probiotics, what they are, what they do and how they help your body. You’ll also learn about the wealth of foods that contain prebiotics, and another way to get your healthy daily dose of prebiotics through supplements.

How Are Probiotics and Prebiotics Related?

First, probiotics and prebiotics both serve important health functions for the human gut. Probiotics are live microorganisms that live inside your gastrointestinal tract. They aid in digestion by essentially cleaning out the gut so that things keep flowing. Like all living things, probiotics need to be fed in order to remain active and healthy, and to benefit you as much as possible.


Prebiotics act as food for probiotics. In other words, probiotics eat prebiotics. Remember the arcade game Pac-Man, where the yellow Pac-Man eats his way through a maze of dots? Relating this to prebiotics and probiotics within your gut: Pac-Man is the probiotic and the dots are prebiotics. Makes more sense now, right?

How to Get Prebiotics?

In a nutshell, prebiotics are a type of fiber. They are un-digestible plant fibers that already live inside the large intestine. The more food, or prebiotics, that probiotics have to eat, the more efficiently these live bacteria work and the healthier your gut will be.

You’re probably already ingesting prebiotics and may not even know it. You see, prebiotics naturally exist in many foods you may already consume on a regular basis. Since fiber is the source for prebiotics, foods that are high in fiber are also typically high in prebiotics.

A List of Prebiotic Foods

Here are some of the top contenders on the prebiotic foods list. How many of them can you incorporate into your meals this week?

Chicory Root Fiber by WeightRaw Chicory Root

At nearly 65 percent of fiber by weight, raw chicory root is one of the best prebiotic food sources around. Raw chicory root is found in health stores or gourmet markets in the form of a supplement or in its ground form. You might have even eaten it without knowing it, as it’s also added to many types of food products here and there, including cereal, breakfast bars, dairy products and bread.

If you’ve had raw chicory root already, you know it has a flavor akin to coffee, even though it doesn’t have any caffeine. It’s often used as a substitute for coffee in the southern region of the United States, as raw chicory root doesn’t produce the unpleasant effects of coffee that some individuals experience, such as feeling jittery or having difficulty with sleeping.

The prebiotic food statistics for raw chicory roots are:

Fiber By Weight Amount of Daily Serving Needed
64.6% 9.3 grams (approx. ⅓ oz.)

Raw Jerusalem Artichoke

You’re most likely familiar with the large green globe-like artichoke you see in your local grocery store, which you may have made yummy spinach artichoke dip out of. That’s not a Jerusalem artichoke, which is a totally different plant. The Jerusalem artichoke has nothing to do with artichokes, except that it mimics an artichoke heart’s flavor — hence how the word “artichoke” became part of its name. In fact, it actually looks like ginger rather than an artichoke.

The Jerusalem artichoke is better known as sunroot or sunchoke or, by many, as the “fartichoke,” due to its impressive fiber content. The raw Jerusalem artichoke, which is related to the sunflower rather than the artichoke, is an excellent source of nutrients and offers a wealth of health benefits. In addition to being a great prebiotic, it is also loaded with iron and potassium.

You can enjoy this prebiotic in a salad or it can be boiled, sautéed or roasted to resemble a creamy potato. Because the Jerusalem artichoke has a lower glycemic index, it can make a good substitute for potatoes for people with diabetes.

The prebiotic food statistics for raw Jerusalem artichoke are:

Fiber By Weight Amount of Daily Serving Needed
31.5% 19 grams (approx. ¾ oz.)

Raw Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens are chock-full of nutrients, including Vitamin K, Vitamin A, calcium and iron. In fact, a one-cup serving of raw dandelion greens provides you with 535 percent of your recommended daily value of Vitamin K, which is believed to help with blood clotting and maintaining strong bones in the elderly.

You can savor the prebiotic benefits of raw dandelion greens by adding them to your salads, sandwiches, stews, casseroles, soups or herbal teas. Because they can have a somewhat acrid taste when eaten raw, you can blanch them in boiling water for about 20 seconds to reduce this taste.

The prebiotic food statistics for raw dandelion greens are:

Fiber By Weight Amount of Daily Serving Needed
24.3% 24.7 grams (just under 1 oz.)


Raw Garlic

Garlic Fiber by WeightRaw garlic is also loaded with tons of nutrients, including manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and selenium. There are several healthy ways you can add raw garlic to your diet, including:

  • A feature flavor in guacamole.
  • In hummus.
  • In vegetable stir fries.
  • As a flavorful ingredient in pasta meals.

Just be sure to have an ample supply of mouthwash on hand. The prebiotic food statistics for raw garlic are:

Fiber By Weight Amount of Daily Serving Needed
17.5% 34.3 grams (1.2 oz.)

Raw Leeks

The great thing about raw leeks, besides being a high prebiotic food, that is, is that they can be incorporated into just about any dish. As a sweeter version of the onion, they can be tossed into pasta, added to a garden salad, or used as an edible garnish for your quiche.

Of course, they also work fabulously in soups, but if cooked, they won’t have quite the same prebiotic content. A one-cup serving of raw leeks including bulb and stem boasts 52 percent and 18 percent of your recommended daily values of Vitamin K and Vitamin C, respectively.

The prebiotic food statistics for raw leeks are:

Fiber By Weight Amount of Daily Serving Needed
11.7.% 51.3 grams (1.8 oz.)

Raw Onion

Raw onions are a member of the lily family, such as garlic is, by the way. Eating onions raw provides you with organic sulphur compounds, which are an important mineral in your body. They are destroyed when you cook them.

Raw onions contain chromium to boost insulin production, quercetin, which fights off free radicals, and Vitamin C. Since most of the flavonoids are contained in the outermost layers of the onions, you should peel off as little as possible before chopping, dicing and tearing. So, in other words, don’t over-peel them! If raw onions give you heartburn or indigestion, consider cooked onions, another high prebiotic food.

The prebiotic food statistics for raw onions are:

Fiber By Weight Amount of Daily Serving Needed
8.6% 69.8 grams (2.5 oz.)

Cooked Onions

As with raw onions, there are so many ways you can add cooked onions to your diet. They can be caramelized, fried, grilled or sautéed, for example. However, many would say there is no better way to have cooked onions than in a hot bowl of French onion soup covered with creamy, oven-melted provolone cheese.

The prebiotic food statistics for cooked onions are:

Fiber By Weight Amount of Daily Serving Needed
5.0% 120 grams (¼ lb.)

Raw Asparagus

Raw asparagus is another great source of prebiotics, as it contains 5 percent fiber by weight. For many, raw asparagus is tough to eat, but a wonderfully tasty, and less tough, way is to eat this prebiotic food source is to ferment it. Alternatively, you could try blending raw asparagus into a smoothie.

The prebiotic food statistics for cooked onions are:

Fiber By Weight Amount of Daily Serving Needed
5.0% 120 grams (¼ lb.)

Raw Wheat Bran

Raw wheat bran is yet another prebiotic food source, and, like raw asparagus and cooked onions, it also provides 5 percent of prebiotics fiber by weight. You can enjoy the benefits of raw wheat bran by adding it to your morning cereal, by mixing it into your yogurt, or by blending it into your smoothies.

The prebiotic food statistics for raw wheat bran are:

Fiber By Weight Amount of Daily Serving Needed
5.0% 120 grams (¼ lb.)

Baked Wheat Flour

Wheat flour, when baked, provides a more flavorful, dense version of your favorite pastry. At 14 percent, it also contains a higher protein punch than its all-purpose flour counterpart, which has 11.7 percent protein.

The prebiotic food statistics for baked wheat flour are:

Fiber By Weight Amount of Daily Serving Needed
4.8% 125 grams (¼ lb.)

Raw Banana

The raw banana comes prepackaged, making it a convenient prebiotic food to take with you wherever you go. Simply peel a raw banana and munch on it for a snack or before or after a workout. It’s also loaded with potassium ― just one cup of mashed banana provides you with 23 percent of your recommended daily value of potassium.

The prebiotic food statistics for raw bananas are:

Fiber By Weight Amount of Daily Serving Needed
1.0% 600 grams (1.3 lbs.)

Probiotic Food Sources

Foods high in probiotics are fermented dairy products. These foods naturally contain both prebiotics and probiotics, making them synbiotic. Some of the most common fermented dairy products include:

  • Yogurt
  • Cheeses
  • Kefir
  • Sour cream

Raw or Cooked Prebiotics: Which Should You Use?

As with most foods, the composition of prebiotic fiber foods changes when they are cooked. Heating anything changes its composition, thus altering its natural occurring state. In the case of prebiotics, if you cook them, you lose some of that precious prebiotic fiber.

It’s not known exactly how much prebiotic fiber is lost when these foods are cooked, but it’s safe to assume the less they are heated, the more they will retain that healthy prebiotic fiber. So instead of cooking those dandelion roots, toss them in a salad and eat them raw. However, if you must cook them, minimally steaming them will allow them to retain more of that prebiotic fiber than it would if you were to boil or sauté them.

Prebiotics: How Much Do You Need?

In order to realize the full effects prebiotics can offer, strive to consume at least 5 grams of prebiotic-dense foods a day. While you may be consuming prebiotic foods in your diet, there’s no guarantee you are consuming the suggested 5 grams a day minimum for achieving the optimal beneficial health effects. While you can certainly try to gauge the amount of prebiotics you are ingesting by monitoring the types of prebiotic-rich foods you are consuming, there are factors that can impact the prebiotic fiber you are actually taking in.

Daily Recommended Prebiotics

For example, whether you consume the food raw or cooked, it can also impact the prebiotics in those foods. If you cook your prebiotic-rich foods, the manner in which you cook them can have a direct impact on the prebiotic makeup of the food.

Prebiotic Fiber Supplements

product-info-imgGiven the rise in the awareness of the benefits of prebiotics on health and wellness, prebiotic supplements are here to help you realize the advantages of including prebiotic fiber in your daily diet. But should you take a prebiotic supplement? For many, the answer to that is simple: Yes.

The optimal way to accurately gauge the amount of prebiotics you are taking in each day is by taking a supplement. Supplements contain pre-determined amounts of prebiotics, and those amounts are measured out into the supplements. They are also available in a convenient powder form, making it easy for you to add the prebiotic fiber supplement to your favorite beverages or sprinkle them over your food.

So if you take a single dietary supplement that contains 5 grams of prebiotics daily, you can be sure you are consuming the suggested minimum of 5 grams of prebiotics a day. Likewise, by taking a supplement, you can be sure you don’t consume too many prebiotics and thus you can avoid adverse effects, such as abdominal bloating, gas and discomfort.

Prebiotics Equals a Happy Gut

Prebiotics are an invaluable part of a healthy diet — and a happy gut. If you want to ensure you’re getting the right amount of prebiotics, taking a 100 percent all-natural and full-spectrum supplement, such as Prebiotin, is highly advisable. While there are several different types of prebiotic supplements on the market, only those that are 100 percent all-natural and full-spectrum can guarantee you are taking the proper amount of pure and natural prebiotics.

Prebiotin happens to be recognized as one of the best prebiotic supplements on the market today.

To learn more about the benefits of prebiotics, visit our Science of Prebiotics page to view a comprehensive list of published research. Keep in mind, the sooner you begin improving your prebiotic intake, the sooner you’ll start to reap their proven health benefits.

Best Prebiotic Supplement

Try Prebiotin Today

Article updated December 15th, 2015
Frank W. Jackson, MD

44 comments

  1. Daniel beyette says:

    I am interested in prebiotic sand probiotics

  2. dr tahir says:

    What about Gum Arabic (acasia Senegal)?

  3. Roy says:

    Your article makes logical sense BUT I find your conclusion a little hard to accept, and very predictable from a company that sells Prebiotic Supplements – a conveniently self-serving conclusion, wouldn’t you say?

    I’d like to know how it can be that Food Authorities end up recommending prebiotic levels that are effectively unachievable through eating food – and only achievable by taking purchased supplements.

    Surely there must be reasonable ways of getting plenty of prebiotics from the food we eat. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate masses of fibre of various kinds which our modern diets don’t have. What are the alternatives to Chicory, for example? Eating 10g of Chicory root seems achievable, and surely it’s not the only root with such high levels of prebiotic fibre.

    I would love to hear more options for increasing dietary intake of probiotics without supplements. However, given that you’d like us to buy your supplements, you probably don’t want to promote ways for us to get prebiotics by simply eating food… I suspect I’ll need to research elsewhere. Thanks for an interesting article, though.

    Roy – South Africa

  4. Helen hammond says:

    I would like to be advised on cooked food I can and cannot eat to prevent me from getting diarrhoea and stomach cramps as I suffer from diverticulosis.

    • Marian Rutherford says:

      Hello Helen,

      I have diverticulosis too… its a horrible disease and I’m always in so much pain. i can eat one thing one day and it’s fine another time it’s all flared up… really fed up with it. Is there anything that you take that works for you?

      Anyway just wanted to say hello :0)

      Marian

      • Ron Melton says:

        Do a search for an herb called Slippery Elm. Very good for diviticulitis

      • pramodray shukla says:

        I was diognised with crohne deisease ten years ago.i could not eat spieces food which was main vegetarian diet for me.my parents use to belive in naturopathyand I was knowing about since long time.Insted of taking modernmedicine to control chrone dieses,I could not efford to by expensive medicine ,I eat lot promogranate fruit and I dried pills of promagranate skin and all material from it after using red ruby seeds,dried it for,make powder of it and store for my daily use.I put one spoon of that powde r for glass of water and drink every day in moring before taking tea, you will surprise today I caneat HALLAPENIO PAPEER without any stoumuch problem.Tiere are more banifitt to it fruit pills than etting fruit which most people discarding it.try this for any stoumuch problem thank you

  5. Peter Rimmer says:

    I believe with diverticulitis avoid seeds that can enter the pouches and ferment not in a good way.Every action always has a reaction and it is our poor lifestyles in general that create these anomalies in our being.I do believe that introducing pure alo-evera into our juices it can assist with the repair of internal inflammation in your intestinal track,just do your research on prepairing and quantity to take,hope this info points you in the right direction.

    • Natalie says:

      The nuts and seed concept is, interestingly, NOT supported by scientific research. There is no evidence based research showing nuts and seeds have a greater or lesser effect on diverticulitis. If eating them makes you feel worse – don’t eat them. But if you have diverticulitis and eating nuts and seeds doesn’t affect you – then by all means, keep eating them.

  6. Avinash says:

    In the above post its mentioned that [Remember, except where specified, these are RAW foods. You can’t down a bowl of french onion soup, steam up your asparagus or count leeks in your stir-fry at these same levels of prebiotic content.]
    Whereas, in the ‘Prebiotics Vs Probiotics’ section the following is mentioned:
    [PREBIOTIC powders are not affected by heat, cold, acid or time.]

    Is it that the prebiotic powder made by prebiotin is not affected by heat, acid, etc?
    What about the prebiotic fibre that’s available in the food? Then why its mentioned that cooked food may not have the same prebiotic contents compared to raw?

  7. Khaled says:

    Dear,

    We noticed that you didn’t mentioned gum Arabic which has the highest prebiotic on Earth which is 8 times more than mother milk !!! In addition
    To the high calcium as well.
    Regards,

    • Diana Clyne says:

      Hi Khaled: Can you send me the source of that information and how it is processed from the tree. We have property that is dense with it and I would like to make it of benefit to people who need it before I am forced to just clear it.

  8. MJD says:

    Although people with diverticulitis may have been told to avoid nuts and seeds to prevent diverticulitis, there doesn’t appear to be any scientific evidence to support this recommendation. — Dr. Andrew Weil

  9. JoAnn says:

    In fact, while visiting the Mayo Clinic, a doctor there had an article stating the opposite regarding the long time recommendation to avoid seeds and nuts.

  10. julie. says:

    What if you juice dandelion greens, does that count??

    • Sherrill says:

      When you juice any fruit or greens, the fibre part ends up in the basket! if you want to eat that separately, somehow, on its own…

  11. Jessica says:

    I have been having alot of problems with my bowels. It has been going on for a little over 3 months. I thought it was going on cause I took energy shots so I stopped taking them. The problem is still there. I still have loose to diarrhea stools like 10 times a day. My appetite really hasn’t stopped and no weight loss.I have sulfar tasting burps and smelly gas and stools like rotten eggs. I’ve been ignoring this for to long and need to seek help. Just seeing if anyone else has had this problem to see what im up against. I also know everyone is different so please keep negative comments to yourself.

    • Dave says:

      Sounds like a giardia infection – talk to your doctor, treatment is not expensive

      • Nizar says:

        Such of these symptoms most likely parasites infection almost Entamoebea histolytica but it could be corolated with ulcerative colon .
        Advice: Stool analysis
        Indoscopy ASAP
        Start immediately with Flagyl. High Dose .or even injection

    • J. says:

      Get checked out for Crohn’s or Ulcerative colitis.

    • DeAnna Burns says:

      Hi Jessica… Realize this was a long time ago and I hope you are all better now. But if you ever have problems w/loose stools etc. A teaspoon of organic coconut oil honestly does the trick! It is very good for you. VERY good for your stomach. VERY good for ulcers and many stomach pains. I take a drink of something hot like coffee or tea right after and it cuts that oil in my mouth right away. 🙂

  12. Donna says:

    Here is an article on C-diff infections. Hope this helps.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0033776/

  13. Janis says:

    I had cancer a few years ago and my nutrition counselor recomended adding to my diet, among other things, 2 tablespoon of ground flax seed. I add it to my morning smoothie. The cancer hasn’t come back, but the other happy fact is that my symptoms of diverticulitis also disappeared.

  14. jodi says:

    Jessica
    For gut problems I had to eliminate all dairy , eans, soy even soy sauce, gluten, from my diet for a week. Then one ata time re-I troduce them to find the culprit.

  15. Denee says:

    Responding to Julie and Sherill: There are newer up- to- date juicers that don’t discard the beneficial fibers we need. I for one do not own one but I have heard they have upgraded the newer models. I love smoothies. I eat all my fruits and veggies raw and nothing beneficial is ever taken out. I suggest a powerful blender like Ninja (which I own) or the Montell Williams’ blender for example… Get a really good one. I never use juice. I only use water or my homemade lemonade and a few cubes of ice to ensure it is cold. I have learned that carrots, apples and beets are great natural sweeteners and have less sugar than bananas. But you can judge when and how much bananas your body needs for your health concerns.

  16. Joni says:

    Had diarrhea for 3 weeks. I am type 2 diabetic and usually have good blood sugar control. Recently have not eaten as healthy as usual and triglycerides are up. Dr. Says the intestinal problems are because my blood glucose is too high. I was very surprised, but do feel much better now.

  17. Cynthia says:

    to Jessica-
    It sounds like you may be experiencing ibs, or irritable bowel syndrome. It can come on out of the blue, just as mine did about 2 years ago. I would google it and find out if any of your other symptoms match up. Good luck!

  18. Randy says:

    Great article, very detailed about the pro and prebiotic foods.

    Myself personally, I did suffer with IBS and some painful inflammation in the feet.

    But with a change in the diet, and adding fermented foods, including trace minerals, I was able to change that.

    I also write about nutrition and I am certified in Human Health and Nutrition.

    I used the list of prebiotics in a article I wrote with a link back to your website.

    Regards,
    Randy
    Health News Library

  19. FirstLast says:

    As of August, 2915, there is a PBS fundraiser show on tv that ties together a lot of the above comments.
    The doctor who is presenting his ideas (can’t remember name) is a neurologist who has come to embrace gut health after years of recognizing that there is a lot more going on in the body, determining health, than what he was taught in medical school.
    I have only seen a few bits of his presentation so far, but to me, it sounds like the best take on eating correctly yet!
    He explains his ideas well, and is easy to listen to: prebiotics, probiotics, fermented foods, and a few more main points I didn’t pay close attention to because I was so excited about the prebiotic part.
    Find a PBS station on TV or online and feast your mind on what he has to say.

  20. Paul Gartlan says:

    If your fermented the artichoke, chicory, garlic and leek would that make the inulin more bio-available and change the RDI?

  21. Dodie says:

    Dr. David Purlmutter author of “Grain Brain” and “Brain Builder” recommends going gluten free, avoiding sugar and artificial sweeteners and getting both prebiotics and probiotics.

  22. Vivek Baghel says:

    Please mention about ,Gum Arabic,it contains 85% of prebiotics fibre by weight…

  23. Chuck says:

    The doctor on PBS is Dr. Perlmutter and his presentation is excellent. He wrote a best seller book: Brain Maker. This link discusses his background: http://www.drperlmutter.com/about/bio/ I watched his PBS presentation which focused on restoring a healthy gut and how it improves wellness including a healthy brain. His presentation discussed 5 areas necessary to restore the bacteria in your gut: prebiotic fiber, probiotics, low carb diet, healthy fats, and a gluten free diet.

  24. Diane says:

    I would recommend a book called “Reverse Gut Issues Naturally” authored by Michelle Honda

  25. RVigil says:

    There are also other prebiotic veggies like raw jicama popular in salads. It’s a crisp and juicy like a leek but the flavor is neutral.

  26. Mike Harper @Foods High in Probiotics says:

    There has been a study about the relationship of mothers taking probiotic foods during pregnancy and the chances of their babies to have eczema. Eczema is the early sign of allergies in infants. The significant 30% reduction in the chances of disease has been good news for mothers.
    http://pronutrics.net/foods-with-probiotics/

  27. Pam says:

    I have read that raw potatoes contain prebiotic fibers also. And I believe bananas have to be green to have the prebiotic fibers. Also chickpeas. I read the book, Wheat Belly, by Dr William Davis. He is very thorough and guides you through repairing your gut bacteria.

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