Prebiotics are plant-based fibers and natural sugars that the bacteria and organisms in your gut like to feed off of to increase their beneficial populations, strengthening your gut microbiome that can improve your immune system, weight control, and blood sugar response. Because vegans usually consume many more plants than omnivores, it’s no wonder that vegans are more likely to be at a healthy weight, have less risk for Diabetes, and generally live a healthier, longer life than their counterparts. So while many vegan plant-based foods contain prebiotics – again the fibers that improve the populations of organisms in your gut – not all plant-based foods are created equal and there are some vegan plant-based foods that are better sources of prebiotics than others.
Inulin is a well-researched prebiotic and one of the best sources of inulin in the diet is chicory. Now, while you may not be noshing on chicory root everyday, know that it is a beneficial food that is high in a particular type of fiber. However, let’s talk about some more common sources of vegan prebiotics!
10 Best Sources of Vegan Prebiotics
10. Apples – Apples contain soluble fiber like oats that are a great source of prebiotics. What’s better yet is that apples are a fast food and can be eaten just about anywhere, which compared to some of the beans and grains on the list, that makes apples a sure win for vegan prebiotics.
9. Almonds – Almonds are like apples in that they are a fast food but almonds have different plant based fiber (insoluble fibers compared to soluble fibers) that help with moving food and particles along in your GI tract.
8. Barley – Barley is a hearty, warm grain that is a great source of soluble fiber and prebiotics. You can find pearled barley that has a nuttier texture or faster cooking barley. Each contains prebiotics and is a good choice to add to your diet when trying to increase your overall prebiotic intake.
7. Oats – Oats, whether they are steel cut oats, old fashioned oats, or instant oats, all contain soluble fiber which again is a major prebiotic. Oats can be a cooked quickly or made as a cold cereal and softened in your favorite plant-based milk overnight.
6. Chickpeas – Chickpeas can be smashed, sautéed, or added into a soup easily to get not only fiber but a great source of plant-based protein and iron. Chickpeas are inexpensive and a great vegan food to improve your gut diversity.
5. Leeks – Similar to onions and garlic, leeks are high in a particular fiber, FOS, that is highly fermentable by the beneficial organisms in your gut and they love to feed off of this fiber and therefore increasing their populations.
3. Cruciferous Vegetables – I know this is an entire family of vegetables but foods like kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are fiber powerhouses that are also a fantastic source of prebiotics.
1. Garlic – The prebiotic properties of garlic have long been studied and for some people, the short fibers in garlic are so highly fermentable by the gut bacteria that it isn’t tolerated by some people who have IBS/IBD or other GI disturbances. However, if you tolerate garlic, it would be a great food to add more of into your diet.
So there you have it, the 10 best sources of vegan prebiotics. As you can see, prebiotics come in a variety of foods and the best way to get a hefty amount of prebiotics in is to make sure you are consuming a variety of high fiber foods in your diet. It’s easy to add fruit and seeds to your oatmeal or toss some beans into your marinara sauce at dinner with whole wheat noodles! It’s easy to promote gut health by increasing and diversifying your gut microbiome with plant-based foods.