The 8 Best Probiotic Foods of 2023, According to a Dietitian

Green Valley Lowfat Plain Kefir is our top pick with 12 strains of probiotics

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Best Probiotic Foods

Verywell Fit / Amelia Manley

Probiotics are live bacteria that may help populate the gut with good microorganisms, which can have beneficial health outcomes. While more research is needed, current studies show that consuming a diet high in fiber and probiotic-rich foods—like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kraut and tempeh—may help to promote a healthy gut microbiome.

Reviewed & Approved

Green Valley Creamery Kefir Lowfat Plain is our top pick because it contains 12 strains of probiotics and is a good source of protein and calcium. If you're looking for a savory, versatile option, try Mother-in-Law's Kimchi House Napa Cabbage.

Probiotics can be consumed in supplement form or from fermented foods that contain live and active cultures consisting of various strains of bacteria. Charlotte Martin, MS, RDN says, “The main benefit in consuming probiotic-rich foods over supplements is that you get to reap the benefits of both the live microorganisms and other nutrients found in the food. With dairy products like yogurt and kefir, for example, you get the satiating benefit of protein. With fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut, you get fiber, some of which is prebiotic, meaning it fuels the probiotics.”

When selecting our top list of of probiotic foods, we considered probiotic strains, taste and overall nutritional content. Consider incorporating a variety of probiotic-rich foods and consuming adequate fiber from plant-based sources like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes.

Here, the best probiotic foods on the market:

Best Overall

Green Valley Creamery Kefir Lowfat Plain

4.8
Green Valley Creamery Kefir Lowfat Plain

Courtesy of Instacart

Pros
  • Lactose-Free

  • Low FODMAP

  • No added sugar

Cons
  • More expensive

Green Valley Creamery Kefir Lowfat plain is our top pick because of its high concentration of diverse probiotic strains and overall nutrition profile. Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with a culture of yeasts and bacteria from kefir grains. It’s considered an even more concentrated source of probiotics than yogurt. 

One cup of this kefir has 11 grams of high-quality protein and 30 percent of your daily calcium needs. It has 12 strains of live and active probiotic cultures, making it an excellent source of probiotics. It’s also organic, kosher, gluten-free, and lactose-free; so even though it’s a milk product, those who are lactose intolerant or following a low-FODMAP diet can enjoy this nutritious beverage. 

Price at time of publication: $7

Serving size: 1 cup (240 mL) | Calories: 130 | Protein: 11 g | Added sugar: None | USDA Organic: Yes

Best Budget

Stonyfield Organic Plain Nonfat Yogurt

 Stonyfield Organic Plain Nonfat Yogurt

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Organic and non-GMO

  • No added sugar

Cons
  • Thinner texture

Yogurt is probably the most commonly eaten probiotic food in the United States, and for good reason. It’s a versatile, healthy, and affordable food to include in your daily diet. 

Stonyfield Organic Plain Nonfat Yogurt contains billions of probiotics per serving from live and active cultures and is certified USDA organic, non-GMO certified. Each ¾ cup serving also provides 7 grams of protein and 20 percent of your daily calcium needs. 

Plain yogurt is an excellent base for yogurt bowls, creamy sauces, and dressings. It can also be blended into smoothies, so you can easily incorporate more probiotics into your lifestyle.

Price at time of publication: $5

Serving size: 3/4 cup (170 g) | Calories: 70 | Protein: 7 g | Added sugar: None | USDA Organic: Yes

Best Yogurt

Siggi's Fat-Free Vanilla Yogurt

Siggi's Icelandic Style Skyr Non-Fat Yogurt, Vanilla

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Non-GMO

  • Higher in protein

  • Thick, creamy texture

Cons
  • Contains some added sugar

If you prefer a thicker yogurt, try Siggi's Dairy. Siggi’s yogurt is actually skyr, a thick, creamy Icelandic-style yogurt that’s high in protein. It's slightly sweetened with agave, and uses no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or stevia.

You can find various naturally flavored yogurts from Siggi’s, like vanilla, peach, key lime and coconut. You can also buy plain Siggi's yogurt, which has no added sugars. All their varieties, which include drinkable yogurt, contain five strains of live and active cultures. 

If you follow a dairy-free diet, Siggi's also offers plant-based yogurt made with the same live and active cultures using a coconut blend. You can find plant-based flavors like mango and vanilla & cinnamon.

Price at time of publish: $2

Serving size: 1 container (150 g) | Calories: 110 | Protein: 15 g | Added sugar: 5 g | USDA Organic: No

Best Kefir

LifeWay Organic Low Fat Kefir

 Lifeway Organic Low Fat Kefir

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • 99% Lactose free

  • No added sugar

  • Non-GMO

Cons
  • Tart flavor may not be suitable for all

Lifeway Plain Lowfat Kefir is an excellent source of probiotics and is a highly nutritious beverage overall. It’s widely available in most grocery stores and comes in a variety of tasty flavors in addition to plain. 

Lifeway Kefir is up to 99 percent lactose-free, non-GMO, Certified Gluten-Free, and contains 12 live and active probiotic cultures. A one-cup serving provides 11 grams of protein and 30 percent of your daily calcium needs. You also have the option to purchase the organic version.

You can get creative with your probiotic foods to ensure you eat them daily. Try adding Lifeway Kefir to smoothies, use it as a milk replacement with cereal, or whisk it with savory ingredients to create creamy dressings and marinades.

Price at time of publication: $5

Serving size: 1 cup (240 mL) | Calories: 110 | Protein: 10 g | Added sugar: None | USDA Organic: No

Good to Know

During fermentation of kefir, lactic acid bacteria breaks down lactose sugar, making it a great dairy product for those who are lactose intolerant.

Best Sauerkraut

Cleveland Kitchen Kraut Classic Caraway SauerKraut

Cleveland Kitchen Kraut Classic Karaway

Courtesy of Foodservicedirect

Pros
  • No added sugar

  • Non-GMO

  • Versatile

Cons
  • May not be suitable for those on a low sodium diet

Sauerkraut is raw cabbage that has been fermented in a salt brine, which makes it a good source of probiotics. Sauerkraut has a tangy, sour flavor that can be eaten plain or added to various dishes. Sauerkraut is low in calories and contains fiber because it’s made from cabbage.

Cleveland Kitchen makes sauerkraut in various flavors, including Classic Caraway, Whiskey Dill, and Roasted Garlic. They ferment their sauerkraut without any additives or preservatives and use locally sourced ingredients. The product is also vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO certified. This product contains 460 milligrams of sodium per serving, so it may not be suitable for those following a low-sodium diet.

Price at time of publication: $7

Serving size: 1 oz (28 g) | Calories: 10 | Protein: 0 g | Added sugar: None | USDA Organic: No

Good to Know

When buying sauerkraut for probiotic benefits, be sure to purchase it from the refrigerated section. The shelf-stable sauerkraut in jars is likely pasteurized, and therefore the probiotics are no longer live and active.

Best Tempeh

Soy Boy Tempeh

Soy Boy Tempeh

Courtesy of Instacart

Pros
  • Organic and non-GMO

  • Good source of vegan protein

Cons
  • Minimal flavor on its own

Tempeh is a fermented soy product common in Japanese cuisine. It’s similar to tofu but has a nuttier taste and a firmer, chewier texture. Tempeh is a good source of plant-based protein and other nutrients like potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium.

If you want to add tempeh to your diet to reap its probiotic benefits, try SoyBoy Tempeh. In addition to providing probiotics, SoyBoy Tempeh is also gluten-free, vegan, Certified USDA Organic, and a good source of fiber.

Add tempeh to pasta sauces, tacos, or stir-fries. Since it has a relatively neutral flavor, it tastes great marinated or tossed in your favorite sauces and dressings.

Price at time of publication: $5

Serving size: 3 oz | Calories: 150 | Protein: 16 g | Added sugar: None | USDA Organic: Yes

Best Kimchi

Mother-in-Law's Kimchi House Napa Cabbage

Mother In Law's Kimchi House Napa Cabbage

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Versatile

  • Made in small batches and handcrafted

Cons
  • More expensive

Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish made of fermented vegetables, including napa cabbage and radish. It’s spicy and extremely flavorful because it’s seasoned with various plant-based ingredients like ginger, garlic, gochugaru, and spring onions. For an authentic, flavorful, probiotic-rich kimchi, try Mother in Law’s Kimchi.

Mother in Law’s Kimchi is made using traditional methods, which allow for deeper flavors and more balanced fermentation. They offer a variety of kimchi options, including a vegan version.

Kimchi is a delicious accompaniment to rice dishes, noodles, or sandwiches, as well as meat or fish.

Price at time of publication: $10

Serving size: 1 oz | Calories: 10 | Protein: 1 g | Added sugar: None | USDA Organic: No

Best Kombucha

Health-Ade Kombucha Tea, Ginger Lemon

Health-Ade Kombucha Tea, Ginger Lemon

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Organic and non-GMO

  • Wide variety of unique flavor combinations

Cons
  • Some flavor varieties contain more than 12 grams of added sugar

Kombucha is a fermented beverage made from black or green tea. It’s effervescent and typically sweetened and flavored with various herbs and spices. Health-Ade is an excellent option if you want to add kombucha to your diet.

Health-Ade uses real fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices to add flavor to their kombucha with nothing artificial. This kombucha is vegan, Certified Gluten-Free, Certified USDA Organic, and non-GMO.

All kombucha has sugar, as it is necessary for the fermentation process, but Health-Ade uses just enough, so their kombucha is not overly sweetened. The ginger lemon flavor has 13 grams of added sugar per bottle with nutritious ginger and lemon juices.

Price at time of publication: $4

Serving size: 16 oz | Calories: 70 | Protein: 0 g | Added sugar: 13 g | USDA Organic: Yes

What to Look for in Probiotic Foods

Variety and Multiple Probiotic Strains:

When it comes to probiotics, the more variety, the better. Since our guts naturally contain a wide range of different microbes, it’s best to eat foods that also contain multiple probiotic strains. Some probiotic foods will list the names of the different probiotic cultures on the ingredient list, so take a peek when you are shopping.

An even easier method is to have variety in the probiotic rich foods you eat! For example, add Tempeh to your stir fry, have yogurt as a snack and sip on Kombucha between meals. This way, you don't have to think about the strains and can focus on the foods instead.

Ingredients:

While there are many probiotic foods on the shelves these days, some products can contain excess added sugar, and other additives. It’s best to eat probiotic foods as close to their natural state as possible to reap the most benefits. Look at the nutrition labels and choose products with simple, whole ingredients and minimal added sugars. Additionally, some fermented products like kimchi and kraut can contain high amounts of sodium that may not be suitable for those following a low-sodium diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the best probiotic-rich foods for IBS?

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition characterized by stomach pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Someone with IBS may experience all of these symptoms or only some of them. The cause of IBS is unknown, but evidence shows that certain foods may either trigger or alleviate symptoms.

    Research shows that people with IBS may have less good bacteria and more harmful bacteria in their guts than healthy people, which may contribute to the cause of the condition. Some findings show people with IBS have symptom relief and reduced severity of the disease by taking probiotics in food or supplement form.

    For someone with IBS, strains from particular probiotic families—Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Saccharomyces—may be more helpful than other probiotic strains at alleviating symptoms. Look for these species on food labels when shopping for probiotic foods.

    If you have IBS and find that high FODMAP foods exacerbate your symptoms, steer clear of any probiotic foods that contain high FODMAP ingredients, like cabbage in sauerkraut and kimchi and lactose in yogurt. Choose lactose-free fermented dairy products like kefir, tempeh, and kombucha instead.

  • What food has the most probiotics?

    In general, it is hard to know the exact amount of probiotics in foods at the time you are consuming them. Some products list the strains and the amount of probiotics they contain at the time of production, however, the amount at time of consumption may differ as bacteria doesn't survive forever.

    Yogurt and kefir are excellent sources of probiotics. They also have the added benefit of containing multiple strains of different types of probiotics, enhancing the potency of the foods. These foods are also widely available in most grocery stores and easy to add to various meals throughout your day. Look for "live cultures" listed on yogurt labels.

  • What is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?

    Simply said, probiotics are healthy bacteria that populate in your gut, while prebiotics are what feed these bacteria. Prebiotics are fibers found in plant foods that humans cannot break down. The bacteria in your gut feeds on this fiber for energy, allowing them to grow and thrive.

    Eating a well-balanced diet incorporating a variety of plant foods in combination with probiotic-rich foods will help support a healthy gut.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a Registered Dietitian, Alex Aldeborgh has experience counseling clients with a wide variety of health conditions for which probiotic foods are a beneficial addition to their diets. She keeps up with the latest research and news regarding probiotics in both food and supplement forms. She also regularly consumes many probiotic foods on this list and would feel comfortable recommending them to family, friends, and clients.

10 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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