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 undigestable plant fibers that feed the probiotics or the good bacteria 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 of prebiotics, foods that are high in fiber are also often high in prebiotics.  But, not all are fermentable in your colon, which is why Prebiotin can provide a reliable source of soluble prebiotic fiber to feed your existing beneficial bacteria.

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 sulfur 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.

Watch the full video on CBN News!
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.

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

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