Best Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods List

Gut health is the key to improving your overall health. And consuming the best probiotic and prebiotic foods can promote healthy digestion, immune health, mental health, and weight. Keep reading to learn more about these probiotic and prebiotic foods. 

And to learn more about gut health, read Gut Health 101!

kefir in a glass with passionfruit.
Kefir, an excellent probiotic

What’s the Difference between Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods?


So you may have heard of probiotics and prebiotics but wondered what the difference is. Well, probiotics are healthy living microorganisms, bacteria or yeast, that live in our bodies. And when these probiotics are consumed, they provide a health benefit. Probiotics can be found in foods and supplements. 

Bacteria are typically considered harmful, and there are “bad” bacteria. But a healthy balance of the “good” bacteria in our gut can help fight off the “bad” bacteria when we get an infection. So eating the best probiotic foods can help replenish the healthy bacteria and keep a healthy balance in our microbiome. The microbiome is the community of living microorganisms that live in our bodies. 


Prebiotics can be easily confused with probiotics. But prebiotics are foods that help to feed healthy bacteria or probiotics. Found naturally in foods or supplements, sometimes prebiotics are combined with probiotic supplements called synbiotics. 

Common Types of Probiotics

According to the National Institutes of Health, seven core types of probiotics are found in probiotic foods and supplements.

  1. Lactobacillus
  2. Bifidobacterium
  3. Saccharomyces
  4. Streptococcus
  5. Enterococcus
  6. Escherichia
  7. Bacillus

Each of these core types has different species and strains, and you may see several species and strains of Lactobacillus on your probiotic food or supplement label. For example, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, and Lactobacillus Brevis may be found in probiotics, along with Bifidobacterium lactis and Bifidobacterium longum. 

Top Probiotic Foods

One of the best ways to get more probiotics is by consuming the best probiotic foods or beverages. So here are the top 10 probiotic foods!

1. Yogurt

Yogurt is fermented milk made mainly with lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. However, not all yogurt contains healthy bacteria, so check the label for active live cultures.  

2. Kefir

In addition to yogurt, kefir is another popular fermented milk option. Unlike yogurt, kefir is a fermented milk drink that contains even more probiotics. Moreover, consuming kefir is known to enhance bone health owing to its high calcium content.

3. Kombucha

Kombucha is a non-dairy probiotic drink that has gained popularity in recent years. It is a type of fermented tea that contains both bacteria, such as Lactobacillus, and yeast, such as Saccharomyces boulardii. Additionally, kombucha comes in a variety of flavors, making it a tasty beverage option to explore.

4. Sauerkraut

Fermented cabbage, also known as sauerkraut, is recognized for its impressive health benefits, primarily attributed to healthy bacteria. As it is fermented with lactic acid, sauerkraut is a common dietary item in European countries.

5. Kimchi

Another type of fermented cabbage, but from Korean cuisine, Kimchi is a spicy side dish. It is also fermented with lactic acid, adding flavors such as red chili flakes, ginger, garlic, and green onions. 

6. Miso

You may have had miso soup when you go out for sushi. It is delicious and made with miso which is a fermented soybean paste. 

7. Tempeh

In addition to miso and soy sauce, tempeh is another popular fermented soybean product. Tempeh is particularly beneficial for vegetarians, as it is an excellent source of protein. Along with its high protein and probiotic content, tempeh also provides a good source of vitamin B12.

8. Pickles

Pickles are pickled cucumbers made by combining with salt and water. When left to ferment, they produce lactic acid naturally. However, pickles made with vinegar do not contain live bacteria. 

cucumbers being pickled in a glass jar.
Ferment your vegetables at home, such as pickles.

9. Sourdough bread

Sourdough bread is made with various living bacteria and yeasts that cause fermentation. As a result, sourdough bread is more easily digested and reduces gluten content, making it a better option for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Celiac Disease. 

Here is a delicious recipe: Chicken Avocado Sandwich with Sourdough Bread!

 10. Certain cheeses

While not all cheese contains active, live bacteria, certain cheeses do. For instance, gouda, parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar, and cottage cheese are known for their active bacterial cultures. Furthermore, cheese is an excellent source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B12.

Best Prebiotic Foods

As mentioned above, prebiotic foods help feed healthy bacteria or probiotics in our digestive system. Here are some of the best prebiotic foods to eat!

hummus in a bowl with garlic and bread.
Chickpeas, hummus, and garlic are tasty prebiotic foods!
  1. Chicory root
  2. Dandelion root
  3. Jerusalem artichoke
  4. Garlic 
  5. Onions
  6. Leeks 
  7. Asparagus
  8. Unripe bananas
  9. Barley
  10. Oats
  11. Apples
  12. Konjac root
  13. Cocoa
  14. Flaxseeds
  15. Jicama
  16. Wheat bran
  17. Seaweed
  18. Chickpeas
  19. Lentils
  20. Nectarines
  21. Blueberries
  22. Cabbage
apples in a round wicker bowl.
Apples are a great source of prebiotics.

Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods List PDF

Click to download this beneficial probiotic and prebiotic foods list PDF.  

Recipes with Prebiotic Foods

Here are some recipes to try that include some of the prebiotic foods!


You have learned the difference between probiotics and prebiotics and how they promote optimal health. In addition, we reviewed the variety of probiotic species and food sources to consume. Adding these healthy microorganisms to your diet through foods and supplements and eating prebiotic foods to keep your gut microbiota balanced is essential. 


Lau, S. W., Chong, A. Q., Chin, N. L., Talib, R. A., & Basha, R. K. (2021). Sourdough Microbiome Comparison and Benefits. Microorganisms, 9(7).

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