Good bacteria in your gut

I bet you’ve heard a lot about the benefits of probiotics—but what about prebiotics? These nondigestible carbohydrates feed the good bacteria in your gut, which have been linked to digestive health, improved immunity, anti-inflammatory effects, and more.

Because prebiotics help probiotics flourish, eating more of them is a smart wellness strategy. Indeed, a 2012 study found a link between a diet high in prebiotics and a reduced risk of developing colorectal cancer. Other research has suggested that prebiotics increase calcium absorption and may improve bone density. And one small study tied prebiotics to increased satiety after meals.

You’re probably already eating some prebiotic foods simply because you like them. But I advise my clients to be strategic about getting prebiotics on a regular basis. And there may be a few prebiotic foods you haven’t tried yet. Here, six of the top prebiotic sources, plus easy, tasty ways to add them to your diet.

 

 

Asparagus

Raw asparagus, specifically. (When it comes to prebiotic produce, raw is usually the way to go because cooking can break down some of the beneficial matter in certain foods.) If you don’t find raw asparagus palatable, try lightly steaming the veggie, so it’s softer but still firm. Serve the asparagus warm, drizzled with tahini or sundried tomato pesto; or chill it and serve cool. Steamed, cooled asparagus is a great alternative to celery for scooping up healthy dips (like hummus, olive tapenade, and guacamole).

 

Bananas

For an extra prebiotic boost, look for bananas that are not quite fully ripe. Slice and drizzle the fruit with almond butter. Or chop and add some banana to Greek yogurt, along with fresh grated ginger and a dash of ground cinnamon. If you have a powerful blender, you can also whip an underripe banana into a smoothie, along with a sweeter fruit like berries or mango for more flavor.

 

 

Dandelion greens

Add raw dandelion greens to a salad, or use a small handful as the base of a side dish or a bed for lean protein, like fish or lentils. To offset the bitterness of the greens, toss them in a dressing made with of EVOO, lemon, and garlic, and top with sliced almonds. If you find the flavor too intense, balance it with sweeter foods like cooked yams, sautéed yellow onions, or in-season fruit.