The Ultimate Probiotic Foods Ranking

For next level gut health.

At HUM we always say get it in your diet first, then supplement where you need support. By now you’ve probably heard that probiotics are essential to gut health. This can translate to a stronger immune system and even clearer skin.

The trouble is, with probiotics being such a hot selling point, there’s some misleading information out there. To get to the bottom of things, we’re presenting a nutritionist approved list of the best probiotic foods. This list considers both the variety of bacteria strains and their potency.

Excellent Probiotic Foods

Sauerkraut: One of the oldest forms of fermenting. Not only does sauerkraut contain probiotics, it also has fiber, Vitamins C, B, K, iron and antioxidants. For optimal probiotic strength, look for an unpasteurized sauerkraut with no added sugar.

Kimchi: Usually made from cabbage and other veggies, it contains a variety of probiotic strains. It’s also high in fiber, Vitamins K, B2, and iron. Again, be sure to get yours with no added sugar.

Pickles:  Low in calories and a great snack. But watch out! The majority of store-bought pickles are made with vinegar and do not contain probiotics. Pickles made in a brine of salt and water, however, a great source of probiotics! They also contain fiber and Vitamin K. As with options above, opt for brands with no added sugar!

Very Good Probiotic Foods

Kefir: Unfamiliar with the stuff? It’s a fermented beverage that’s similar to yogurt in taste, but a thinner consistency. Perfect for incorporating into smoothies. Kefir actually contains a greater variety of probiotics than it’s thicker counterpart.

Yogurt: Contains lactobacillus and can help breakdown lactose into lactic acid which aids in digestion. Make sure you find yogurts with live active cultures as many of the probiotics can be killed during processing. It can also contain a lot of added sugar so as always, look for options with no added sugar.

Buttermilk: There are two kinds, traditional and cultured. Both contain probiotics as well as Vitamin B12 and calcium.

Raw Cheese: This is a good source of probiotics, but you have to make sure you get raw cheese that was made from high quality milk and from a vendor you trust.

Pretty Good Probiotic Foods

Tempeh: Fermented soy the fermentation process increases bodies ability to absorb certain minerals and produces B12, good for vegetarians and vegans, be careful about quality of soy and how much you are eating, too much soy can have a negative impact on health.

Natto: This fermented soy food is typically eaten for breakfast in Japan. It is high in protein, Vitamin K2 and mostly contains the bacillus subtilis strain.

Kombucha:  You will get a variety of probiotics, but it’s still best to drink in moderation. Most commercial kombucha has a lot of added sugar and the carbonation can cause additional bloating.

So-So Probiotic Foods

Kvass: This Eastern European drink is similar to kombucha but fermented from rye bread. It contains B12 but, like kombucha, the carbonation may cause digestive upset.

Cottage Cheese: While cottage cheese is a great source of protein and technically a fermented product, most are pasteurized and don’t contain probiotics. To get probiotic benefits, you will have to hunt to find a brand that has live active cultures.

Miso: Although made from fermented soybeans and higher in protein, heating kills most probiotics. Also, miso is often high in sodium and in some cases MSG. That said, if you can find authentic miso there are many associated health benefits.

Sourdough: Another one that starts with some processing fermentation, but ultimately kills the majority of good bacteria in the heated baking process.

Foods That Didn’t Make The Cut

In our hunt for a complete list of probiotic foods, a few came up that ultimately were not really probiotics at all. Consider this list proof that you can’t trust everything you google.

Peas: While scientists were able to isolate a compound that is beneficial to digestion and gut health in peas, the verdict is still on whether you can get adequate amounts from eating the vegetable on it’s own.

Dark Chocolate: We know! Bummer. So close, but not quite. To make chocolate, cacao is fermented which would lead to beneficial probiotic bacteria – if the chocolate weren’t then heated later in processing. Some manufacturers are now adding probiotics back in but it’s certainly not a given for your standard dark chocolate bar.

Apple Cider Vinegar: As we mentioned in a previous post, apple cider vinegar is a potent natural ingredient for boosting gut health – but not technically a probiotic.

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