13 Best Probiotic Foods For Your Gut Health

Foods with healthy bacteria can help you maintain a good weight, stay healthy, and feel better than ever.

  • Research shows that probiotics—helpful bacteria and yeasts—can offer many health benefits.
  • Benefits include boosting immunity, absorbing essential nutrients, and controlling your weight.
  • You can add them to your diet using supplements, though eating a variety of probiotic-containing foods is a tastier and perhaps more effective way to boost your health.

The good news keeps stacking up for probiotics. Probiotics are those good-for-you bacteria that keep your gastrointestinal (GI) system functioning in tip-top shape.

While many people think of bacteria as harmful invaders, our bodies rely on certain bacteria to perform many essential functions. They help us digest our food and destroy disease-causing germs in our bodies, boost our immune systems, and produce substances our body needs to stay healthy.

Naturally, you would want your diet to include these amazing probiotics. A lot of foods contain natural probiotics, particularly fermented foods. However, sometimes probiotic strains are added to foods, beverages, and supplements for an added benefit. Here are common examples:

  • Bacteria that belong to the Lactobacillus group
  • Bacteria from the Bifidobacterium group
  • Yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii

The 13 types of food and beverages listed below will all give you a probiotic boost.


You may have heard that chocolate is good for your health. That's because the cocoa beans used to make that chocolate have lots of antioxidants. These antioxidants can help lower your risk of various diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and central nervous system diseases.

To bolster chocolate with even more health benefits, chocolate manufacturers have also been adding probiotics to their products. Studies have shown that probiotics added to chocolate could reach the GI tract. Once in the GI tract, probiotics can get to work colonizing the gut with healthy bacteria.

If you want to get these added health benefits from chocolate, make sure to look for labels indicating that probiotics have been added.

Cultured Soy Milk

Dairy isn't the only way you can get your probiotic yogurt fix. Soy yogurts and other soy milk products fermented with probiotics may be just what you've been looking for.

They may be beneficial for your health, too. Fermented soy milk products in your diet can help lower your risk of chronic diseases. They can also reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Plus, they have been shown to increase the number of healthy bacteria in your gut, while reducing the number of bacteria that can cause disease.

Some soy yogurts are fortified with calcium and vitamin D to make them comparable to their dairy counterpart. They make a great option if you're vegan or lactose intolerant. (If you're looking for more variety, almond milk and coconut milk yogurts are also rich in probiotics.)


Kefir is a smooth, slightly tangy, and sippable yogurt that contains several different types of live active cultures. It's also 99% lactose-free, making it easier to digest for people who are lactose intolerant. Start slow if you're not sure you can tolerate it. If you don't have symptoms, you can up your intake.

This fermented drink may have beneficial effects on cholesterol, blood pressure, wound healing, allergies, and asthma. Plus, kefir can help fill you up. It's got 11 to 13 grams of protein or more per serving (depending on the brand), for around 100 calories.


This Korean staple relies on lactic acid fermentation (also called lacto-fermentation) to turn cabbage or other vegetables into a spicy, pungent side dish packed with vitamin C.

The lactic acid bacteria that ferment kimchi are probiotics. Kimchi's touted potential health benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Preventing cancer
  • Promoting colorectal health
  • Reducing cholesterol
  • Boosting the immune system

You can order kimchi at Korean restaurants, buy it in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, or make it at home. Use it to spike veggie-laden rice bowls, top on soup, or pair with meat dishes.


Fizzy, tangy, and even slightly vinegar-esque, kombucha has a strong and dedicated following for a reason.

This tea gets its natural carbonation from the "SCOBY," an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. It's that floating thing you see in some bottled varieties: the bacteria and yeast that ferment the drink and create the probiotics.

A 2021 review of studies suggested that kombucha could have health benefits such as a healthier gut microbiome and might be beneficial in managing obesity.

For added flavor, many types of kombucha are made with fruit juice, so read the label to see what you're getting. It's also best to stick to store-bought kombucha. It's tough to keep the tea sanitary when you make it yourself, and it could become contaminated with harmful pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli.

Also note that due to its fermentation process, kombucha contains trace amounts of alcohol (or more in the case of hard kombucha), so it's best to stick to one 12-ounce bottle a day or try another probiotic if you have alcohol sensitivities.


A traditional Russian drink, Kvass was once made with rye bread or another grain. Today's version of Kvass is made with fermented beet juice or fruit and veggie juices.

The probiotic goodness derives from the lactic acid bacteria involved in fermentation in the grain-based beverage. This type of Kvass may help eliminate flatulence and other digestive disorders, promote healthy metabolism, and prevent some cell damage.

A bonus if your Kvass is made with beets: Nitrate-rich beetroot may boost oxygen flow to muscles, improving exercise performance.


If you've ever been to an Indian restaurant, you've probably seen a lassi—a smoothie made of milk, yogurt, fruit, honey, and cardamom. The drink goes well with spicy Indian food because it helps extinguish the fiery feeling in your mouth.

If you want to try it at home, you can pick up bottles from brands advertising up to 15 billion live probiotics per serving. It's available in flavors like mango and turmeric.

Miso Paste

Made from aged, fermented soybeans, miso paste is brimming with probiotics. You can buy miso paste in various varieties: white, yellow, red, and brown. The darker the color, the deeper the taste.

Miso is a great way to add a burst of earthy, savory flavor and nutrients like protein, fiber, and vitamin E. You can use miso to glaze fish or chicken before cooking, mix it into a stir-fry recipe, or add it to liquid to make a miso broth.

One caveat: Miso is very high in sodium. A little over a tablespoon of the paste has 830 milligrams of sodium. The daily recommended limit is 2,300 milligrams in general and 1,500 milligrams for those with high blood pressure. That amount is 36% of the daily recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams and more than 55% for those with high blood pressure.


Fermenting a cucumber into a pickle amps up a cucumber's benefits, infusing the crunchy veggie with probiotics. Like sauerkraut, not all pickles offer good bacteria, though.

Look for those made with brine (salt and water) rather than vinegar. Vinegared pickles do not go through a fermentation process. However, fermented pickles (which are typically made with brine) may add probiotic bacteria strains to your GI tract.

These brands are usually in the refrigerated section and will list "live cultures" on the label. You can also use water, salt, and spices to naturally culture pickles and other veggies—like beets, green beans, and carrots—at home with delicious results.

One warning: Remember that pickles are salty—one dill pickle spear can easily offer up more than 10% of your daily sodium needs.


This cabbage condiment can frequently be found atop a hot dog, but its roots trace back to the 4th century B.C.

Cabbage was fermented to preserve the veggie, resulting in what we all know as sauerkraut. However, modern techniques for canning sauerkraut result in a product packed in a vinegar solution without live, active bacteria in the mix.

For probiotic power, eat fermented sauerkraut (look for live cultures on the label or buy it in the refrigerated section) or make it yourself at home.

Sourdough Bread

This mildly sour, chewy bread is made with a lactic acid starter containing lactobacillus strains. Lactobacillus strains are a friendly type of bacteria that adds good microbes to the bakery staple.

Sourdough may be the healthiest bread choice if diabetes is a concern: One 2022 study found that sourdough produced lower glucose increases after eating, especially when made with whole-wheat flour. Fiber-rich whole-grain bread can also reduce that post-meal blood sugar spike.


Tempeh is made with fermented soybeans or grains that have been molded into a cake-like form. This nuttier, tangier cousin to tofu can be sliced for sandwiches, tossed into stir-fries, or marinated and grilled. In addition to probiotics, tempeh contains 33 grams of protein per cup and is a good source of iron.

Plus, soy foods contain compounds that may help keep cholesterol in check. You can use it in place of tofu in dishes like stir-fries, salads, and side dishes.


We have to give a nod to the most famous probiotic food: yogurt. Whether you love Greek or regular, low-fat or full-fat, look for the phrase "live active cultures" on the label.

Although plain yogurt has less added sugar than the flavored kinds, it's worth opting for a fruit-infused flavor versus not eating it at all. You can also try it in a high-fiber, blackberry smoothie.

Just be sure to aim for fewer than 15 grams of sugar per serving. The sugar can feed the bad bacteria in your gut, leading to inflammation.

A Quick Review

Probiotics are bacteria that help your GI tract function at its best. There are a number of different foods and drinks that can offer probiotic benefits. They include options such as kombucha, tempeh, yogurt, and even chocolate.

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