Probiotic foods: Everything you need to know

Probiotics have been in the limelight for a while now. These are live microorganisms that have health benefits. They are beneficial bacteria that have powerful benefits for your brain and body. They help improving heart health, digestive health and reduce depression. There is evidence that probiotics also improve your skin.

You can get probiotics from supplements, but you can also get them from fermented foods. Here is the list of the most popular probiotic foods.


Yoghurt is one of the best sources of probiotics, which has friendly bacteria and can improve your health. Eating yoghurt is associated with various health benefits, including bone health and reduces high blood pressure.

In children, yoghurt can help reduce diarrhoea caused by antibiotics. It can also relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

It is also a good option for people who are lactose intolerant. But not all yoghurt has live bacteria, in some cases, the bacteria have been killed during processing.

Thus, make sure to choose yoghurt from live and active cultures.


Sauerkraut is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It is an old food tradition common in Europe. It is used as a side dish and has a sour, salty taste and can be stored for months in an airtight container.

Not just this, sauerkraut is rich in fibre and vitamin C, B and K. It is high in sodium and has manganese and iron.

It has antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which is important for eye health.

Make sure to choose unpasteurized sauerkraut, as pasteurization kills the live and active bacteria.


Kimchi is spicy and fermented Korean dish. Cabbage is the main ingredient of the dish, but one can make it using other vegetables too. It is full of flavours and has various seasonings like chilli pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, salt and scallion.

Kimchi is good for digestive health and has lactic acid bacteria Lactobacillus Kimchii.


The drink is now a part of menus at various cafes and restaurants. It is a fermented black or green tea. It has friendly bacteria and yeast and is consumed in various parts of the world.


Also called pickles, gherkins are cucumbers that have been pickled in a solution of salt and water. These are left to ferment for some time, using their own lactic acid bacteria. The process makes them taste sour.

Pickled cucumbers are healthy probiotics bacteria, which can improve digestive health. These are low in calories and a good source of vitamin K. These are also high in sodium. Also, remember pickles that have vinegar do not have live prebiotics.

Traditional buttermilk

There are two types of buttermilk traditional and cultured. Traditional buttermilk is simply the leftover liquid from making butter. This version has probiotic and is also called ‘grandma’s probiotic’.

Traditional buttermilk is consumed in Nepal, Pakistan and India.

Cultured buttermilk does not have any probiotic benefits and is found the supermarkets.

Buttermilk is low in fat and calories and has important vitamins and minerals, like B12, riboflavin, calcium and phosphorous.

Some types of cheese

Though most types of cheese are fermented, that does not mean that all of them contain probiotics. It is important to look for live and active cultures on the food labels. The good bacteria can survive the ageing process in some cheeses, including mozzarella, gouda, cheddar and cottage cheese.

Cheese is nutritional and is a great source of protein. It is also rich in important minerals and vitamins, including vitamin B12, calcium, selenium and phosphorous.

Moderate consumption of dairy products like cheese can lower the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.


Tempeh is a fermented soybean product. It is a firm patty whose flavour is described as nutty, earthy and similar to a mushroom.

It is a high-protein meat substitute and is famous worldwide. The fermentation process has surprising effects on its nutritional profile.

Soybean is high in phytic acid, which impairs the absorption of minerals like zinc and iron. But the fermentation process lowers the amount of phytic acid, which can increase the mineral absorption.

Fermentation also produces some vitamin B12, which soybeans do not have otherwise.

Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal foods like meat, fish, dairy and eggs. This makes tempeh a great choice for vegetarians who want to add a nutritious probiotic to their diet.

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