Prebiotics are types of dietary fiber that feed the friendly bacteria in your gut.
This helps the gut bacteria produce nutrients for your colon cells and leads to a healthier digestive system (1Trusted Source).
Some of these nutrients include short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate and propionate (2Trusted Source).
These fatty acids can also be absorbed into the bloodstream and improve metabolic health (2Trusted Source).
However, prebiotics should not be confused with probiotics. For more, read this article that explains the differences.
Here are 19 healthy prebiotic foods.
Chicory root is popular for its coffee-like flavor. It’s also a great source of prebiotics.
Approximately 47% of chicory root fiber comes from the prebiotic fiber inulin.
The inulin in chicory root nourishes the gut bacteria, improves digestion and helps relieve constipation (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
It can also help increase bile production, which improves fat digestion (5Trusted Source).
Additionally, chicory root is high in antioxidant compounds that protect the liver from oxidative damage (6Trusted Source).
Dandelion greens can be used in salads and are a great source of fiber.
They contain 4 grams of fiber per 100-gram serving. A high portion of this fiber comes from inulin (7).
The inulin fiber in dandelion greens reduces constipation, increases friendly bacteria in the gut and boosts the immune system (8Trusted Source).
Dandelion greens are also known for their diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer and cholesterol-lowering effects (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
The Jerusalem artichoke, also known as the “earth apple,” has great health benefits.
It provides about 2 grams of dietary fiber per 100 grams, 76% of which comes from inulin (13).
Jerusalem artichokes have been shown to increase the friendly bacteria in the colon even better than chicory root (14Trusted Source).
Additionally, they help strengthen the immune system and prevent certain metabolic disorders (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
The Jerusalem artichoke is also high in thiamine and potassium. These can help your nervous system and promote proper muscle function (13).
Garlic is an incredibly tasty herb linked to various health benefits.
About 11% of garlic’s fiber content comes from inulin and 6% from a sweet, naturally occurring prebiotic called fructooligosaccharides (FOS).
Garlic acts as a prebiotic by promoting the growth of beneficial Bifidobacteria in the gut. It also prevents disease-promoting bacteria from growing (17).
Garlic extract may be effective for reducing the risk of heart disease, and has shown antioxidant, anti-cancer and antimicrobial effects. It may also have benefits against asthma (18Trusted Source, 19, 20Trusted Source).
Garlic gives great flavor to your foods and provides you with prebiotic benefits. It has been shown to help promote good bacteria and prevent harmful bacteria from growing.
Onions are a very tasty and versatile vegetable linked to various health benefits.
Similar to garlic, inulin accounts for 10% of the total fiber content of onions, while FOS makes up around 6% (21Trusted Source, 22).
FOS strengthens gut flora, helps with fat breakdown and boosts the immune system by increasing nitric oxide production in cells (21Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Onions are also rich in the flavonoid quercetin, which gives onions antioxidant and anticancer properties.
Furthermore, onions have antibiotic properties and may provide benefits for the cardiovascular system (20Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).