The 9 Best Probiotic Foods (That Aren’t Yogurt)
News flash: Your microbiome is super important to your overall health (we’re talking digestive health, brain health, emotional health, cardiovascular health and other systems). One way to keep it happy? Adding probiotics to your diet. But if you’re not into the idea of popping a supplement and have had your fill of yogurt, then check out the nine best probiotic-rich foods that can help add more (and restore the balance of) friendly bacteria in the gut. Extra bonus? They’re also super tasty.
Yep, your favorite martini garnish is also good for your gastrointestinal tract. That’s because olives packed in brine are actually a fermented food that’s rich in gut-friendly lactobacillus bacteria. They’re also high in fiber and antioxidants so, cheers to these juicy gems.
What to make: Veggie Niçoise Salad with Red Curry Green Beans
This tangy beverage is made by fermenting milk with bacteria and yeast, and it’s actually an even better source of probiotics than yogurt. It also boasts high levels of nutrients like protein, calcium, vitamin B12 and magnesium. Use it the same way you would its creamier cousin (we like ours poured over cereal).
What to make: Kefir Smoothie Bowl
3. Dark Chocolate
So, you know that probiotics are great for your gut, but did you know that in order to reap the benefits, you actually need to feed good bacteria with prebiotics (i.e., non-digestible fiber that helps the good bacteria in your body thrive)? Luckily, chocolate contains both of these ingredients, plus high levels of antioxidants and nutrients. So you know, it’s basically medicine. (Just keep an eye on your overall sugar intake, OK?)
What to make: Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread
4. Some Types of Cheese
While not all cheeses are a good source of probiotics (sorry), some soft, fermented ones like cheddar, Swiss and Gouda are since they contain bacteria that can survive the journey through your gastrointestinal tract. To make sure you’re getting the right stuff, look out for “live and active cultures” on the label.
What to make: Kale and Cheddar Cheese Galette
You know this pickled cabbage dish is the ultimate hot dog topping, but did you know that it’s also full of probiotics and equally delicious when piled onto a salad or sandwich? And one study published in World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology found that it could also reduce cholesterol levels. Just make sure to double-check the label before buying—you want the raw, unpasteurized stuff (or hey, make your own).
What to make: New York Hot Dog
This fermented Asian dish made with cabbage, radishes and scallions is loaded with gut-friendly bacteria. Researchers from Korea have also found evidence that this spicy, briny dish can help you stay slim. Try it mixed with brown rice or on its own as a tasty side.
What to make: Traditional Napa Cabbage Kimchi
Great news for pickle lovers (guilty)—when these green spears are brined in salted water and fermented, they create beneficial bacteria. Just make sure to opt for the naturally fermented kind (i.e., ones where vinegar wasn’t used in the pickling process) to reap the probiotic benefits. Dill-icious.
What to make: Pickles (duh)
9. Sourdough Bread
The “sour” taste of our favorite avocado vessel comes from the fermentation process, during which yeast and good bacteria work their magic to break down the sugar and gluten in flour. This makes nutrients easier to digest and absorb. And while the baking process kills off the live cultures, sourdough bread is a great prebiotic, and there is evidence to suggest that even dead probiotic bacteria has some impressive anti-inflammatory health benefits.
What to make: Tomato Soup in Grilled Cheese Bread Bowls