Research Finds Top Five Foods Sources of Prebiotics

We’re big believers in gut health. More and more evidence is stacking up that shows that the microbiome controls many aspects of health. It has gotten to the point that researchers have suggested treating the microbiome inside our gut as an organ because it plays such a massive role in our well-being.

Like any organ, the microbiome has to be cared for. Everyone has heard of eating probiotic foods to replenish the live organisms in the gut. But, you might not have heard of prebiotics — the food that keeps those microorganisms healthy. Eating plenty of prebiotics can help blood sugar levels, aid mineral absorption and improve digestion and immune health.  

Eating prebiotic-dense foods has been indicated by previous research to benefit health,” said Cassandra Boyd, a master’s student at San José State Univ. who conducted the research with Assistant Prof. John Gieng. “Eating in a way that promotes microbiome wellness while increasing fiber intake may be more attainable and accessible than you think.”

Ms. Boyd’s new research found the most prebiotic-rich foods. The top five were dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, leeks and onions. They each contained between 100 to 240 milligrams of prebiotics per gram. According to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, people should eat five grams of prebiotics a day. Other foods with high levels of prebiotics included cowpeas, asparagus and All-Bran cereal. They contained 50 to 60 milligrams per gram.

Most of us don’t eat dandelion greens, even though they grow for free in our yards. And while Jerusalem artichokes are growing in popularity, they aren’t a commonplace food. But garlic and onions are vegetables that can be thrown into so many savory dishes. Half a small onion has all the prebiotics a person needs in a day.

Ms. Boyd said, “Multiple forms of onions and related foods appear in a variety of dishes as both flavoring and main ingredients. These foods are commonly consumed by Americans and thus would be a feasible target for people to increase their prebiotic consumption.”

These prebiotic foods are rich in fiber that can help bowel health beyond gut maintenance. They help you stay full between meals and can help prevent constipation. Prebiotics are a form of fiber. Cooking fiber can cause it to break down. So it’s best to eat these foods raw or lightly cooked. However, if you are eating them in large quantities, it most likely doesn’t matter. While prebiotics are a form of fiber, not all fiber-rich foods are a good source of prebiotics. Wheat is low in prebiotics.

By supporting your gut with probiotics and prebiotics, you can boost your health and wellness through your diet. Some believe you can even lower your cancer risks and fight depression through better gut health. So, enjoy more prebiotics for better overall health!

Banner image: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

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