7 Must-Eat Fermented Foods for a Healthy Gut

By: Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D.

Try these 7 probiotic-rich foods for gut health. The good bacteria may improve digestion, boost immunity, promote a healthy weight and more.

Avocado toast with Kimchi

Pictured Recipe: Avocado Toast with Egg, Cheddar & Kimchi

The trillions of tiny creatures living in our bodies have been making headlines lately—and for good reasons. These good bacteria—particularly those in our gut—may improve digestion, boost immunity and help us maintain a healthy weight. Research is still emerging on just how important these mighty microbes might be for our health, but the early results are promising. Take care of your gut, and in turn, it will take help take care of you.

Eating foods packed with probiotics—good bacteria—is one way to boost up your gut health. Fermented foods, like yogurt and kimchi, are rich in probiotics. The good bacteria grow during the fermentation process. Add these seven fermented foods to your diet for a healthy dose of probiotics.

Don't Miss: 1-Day Probiotic-Packed Meal Plan

simple sauerkraut

1. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is good for more than just topping a hot dog. Made from just cabbage and salt, this fermented food delivers a healthy dose of probiotics and fiber. You can make your own or buy sauerkraut at the store. The kind sold in the refrigerated section will have more probiotics than shelf-stable canned or jarred varieties. 

Recipe to Try: Simple Sauerkraut

Homemade Kimchi

2. Kimchi

Sauerkraut’s Korean cousin, this fermented cabbage dish is spicy. Look for it in the refrigerated section near other Asian ingredients or pickles and sauerkraut.

Recipe to Try: Homemade Kimchi

berry kefir smoothie

3. Kefir

A fermented milk drink—it tastes like drinkable yogurt—kefir is full of calcium and probiotics. Just like yogurt, probiotics in kefir help break down lactose, so it may be easier to digest for people with lactose intolerance. Kefir is delicious in smoothies or by itself. 

Recipe to Try: Berry-Kefir Smoothie

Clean Breeze Smoothie with Kombucha

4. Kombucha

Kombucha is a tangy, effervescent tea—typically black or green—that's rich in good-for-you yeast and bacteria. The drink is often flavored with herbs or fruit. You can find kombucha in natural foods stores, farmers’ markets and many mainstream grocery stores. A tiny amount of alcohol is sometimes produced during fermentation—usually less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. However, some kombuchas have been found to contain up to 2 or 3 percent alcohol.

Recipe to Try: Clean Breeze Smoothie

Easy Miso-Chicken Ramen

5. Miso

A fermented paste made from barley, rice or soybeans, miso adds a nice umami flavor to dishes. It’s bold, so a little goes a long way (which is good because it’s also high in sodium). Miso is typically found in soups, but also makes salad dressings and marinades even more delicious and gut healthy.

Recipe to Try: Easy Miso-Chicken Ramen

Tempeh "Chicken" Salad

6. Tempeh

Tempeh is made from naturally fermented soybeans. It's similar to tofu in that it's a plant-based protein made from soy, but unlike tofu, tempeh is fermented. It also has a firmer texture and a slightly nuttier flavor profile. It’s a good source of probiotics—and, because it contains all the essential amino acids, it’s a complete source of vegetarian protein.

Recipe to Try: Tempeh "Chicken" Salad

Ricotta & Yogurt Parfait

7. Yogurt

Yogurt is made by fermenting milk. Yogurt labeled with the "Live & Active Cultures" seal guarantees 100 million probiotic cultures per gram (about 17 billion cultures in a 6-ounce cup) at manufacturing time. Even yogurts without this seal will contain probiotics. The probiotics in yogurt help digest some of the lactose (milk sugar) so if you're lactose intolerant you may be able to enjoy yogurt. Plus, many companies are now making dairy-free and vegan yogurt options that contain probiotics. 

Recipe to Try: Ricotta & Yogurt Parfait

Watch: How to Make Kimchi

Related Links
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