One of the fastest growing trends in health food is probiotics. These friendly bacteria required for proper digestion can be found in several food products. Consuming foods rich in “good” bacteria can restore the body’s natural digestive health and reverse the damage done by overuse of antibiotics or poor eating habits. Probiotic foods must contain live bacteria cultures in order to be beneficial.
Some common yogurt products are pasteurized after the live cultures are added which destroys the probiotic benefits. Stonyfield Farm, Liberté, Silk Live, and several other brands market organic yogurt that contains strains of live bacteria. They are available at most national grocery store chains or online at Netgrocer.com and costs about $1.10 per six-ounce carton.
Miso, a traditional Japanese product made by fermenting soybeans, barley, rice, or other grains can be added to soup or noodle dishes or used as a spread or glaze. Jars or pouches of Miso paste with varying flavors can be found in many large grocery stores and costs about $9 to $12 for twelve ounces.
Tempeh or Tempe, originally from Indonesia, is firm thick cake made from fermented whole soybeans. Tempeh can be deep-fried or chopped or grated and used as a meat substitute in soup, stews, chili, or tacos. It has been described as having a meaty, nutty or mushroom like taste. It can be found in larger grocery stores or online at Nergrocer.com and sells for about $6 to $9 per pound depending on the preparation.
Fermented cabbage or sauerkraut can be an excellent source of probiotic nutrition. Sauerkraut labeled raw or organic, from companies like Rejuvanative Foods, Great Lakes Kraut Company, and Will’s Valley found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, should contain live cultures. These can products can also be purchased directly from the company websites along with other varieties of fermented vegetables, sauces, nut butters, and salsas. Prices vary by product and company and average between $6 and $12 per eight to ten ounce jar.
Lifeway Kefir and Yakult are two brands of fermented dairy-based drinks gaining recognition as excellent probiotic products. These products are available at some health food stores and in limited distribution in large grocery chains. The price is about $2.50 for a Yakult single shot or about $5.00 for a thirty-two ounce bottle of Lifeway Kefir.
Several companies offer lines of granola or snack bars containing probiotics. The brand names include Attune and PopCulture. Bars are low calorie, low sugar, and contain several strains of probiotic bacteria. They can be found at drugstore.com, GMC.com or directly from a company website such as attunefoods.com or popcultureprobiotics.com. The bars cost about $1.25 for a one ounce bar.
Goat’s milk dairy products can be an good source of probiotics with the added benefits of being lactose free, lower in fat, and an excellent source of calcium. LaLoo’s Frozen Yogurt contains several beneficial strains of bacteria and can be found in natural and health food stores or at several online retailers for about $6.00 per pint.
Kashi, a growing national health food company, offers a toasted graham and vanilla cereal marketed as containing one billion active cultures per serving. It is available at many grocery store chains and at online sites such as Netgrocer.com. It costs between $4 and $7 for a twelve-ounce box.
Chocolate has been proven to be an excellent delivery system for ptobiotics because it allows large numbers of active bacteria to reach the large intestine where it is most beneficial. SweetLife Chocolates offered online at GNC.com offers a tasty way to get probiotics. The bars are about $1.25 per ounce.
Some soft cheeses and aged cheeses can offer a probiotic benefit. Breakstone LiveActive Cottage Cheese can be found in many national grocery store chains. It costs about $5.00 for a four pack or four ounce cups. Many aged cheeses including cheddar, Gouda, and Gorgonzola are good sources of probiotics. Aged cheeses can usually be found in the deli section of larger grocery stores. Mozzarella, Ricotta, and Brie do not contain live cultures due to a different production process.
Overuse of antibiotics and a diet containing too many processed foods can destroy the beneficial bacteria necessary for proper digestion. Probiotic foods containing live cultures provide a source of “good” bacteria that can help destroy many of the organisms that cause intestinal problems. Any of these probiotic food products can help restore the natural balance in the digestive tract and may improve overall health.