Prebiotics are types of fiber that feed your friendly gut bacteria. Here are 19 healthy foods rich in prebiotics.

Prebiotics allow your gut bacteria to produce nutrients for your colon cells, which leads to a healthier digestive system.

Some of these nutrients include short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate, and propionate, which can be absorbed into your bloodstream and improve metabolic health.

However, prebiotics shouldn’t be confused with probiotics, which are live bacteria found in certain foods or supplements.

Read on to explore 19 healthy prebiotic foods to add to your grocery list.

Chicory root is a great source of prebiotics.

Approximately 68% of chicory root fiber comes from the prebiotic fiber inulin, which is a compound that helps improve digestion and bowel function and helps relieve constipation.

The greens of dandelion flowers can be cooked or consumed raw.

They contain fiber, a high portion of which also comes from inulin.

The Jerusalem artichoke — also known as the sunroot, sunchoke, or earth apple — is part of the sunflower family. It, too, contains inulin-rich dietary fiber.

Along with its other benefits, inulin helps increase the friendly bacteria in your colon, promoting greater digestive health. It can also aid in the absorption of minerals in your large intestine.

Garlic is a flavorful herb linked to various health benefits.

Garlic acts as a prebiotic by promoting the growth of beneficial Bifidobacteria in the gut. It also helps prevent disease-promoting bacteria from growing.

Onions have many health benefits. They are also rich in inulin, as well as fructooligosaccharides (FOS).

FOS is a type of carbohydrate that helps strengthen gut flora and helps with fat breakdown.

Leeks come from the same family as onions and garlic, and they offer similar health benefits.

Leeks are nutrient-dense, which means they’re low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals. Thanks to their inulin content, leeks promote healthy gut bacteria and help break down fat.

Asparagus is a popular vegetable and another great source of prebiotics. Like other foods on this list, this nutritious vegetable naturally contains inulin.

Bananas also contain some inulin. Unripe (green) bananas are also high in resistant starch, which has prebiotic effects.

In addition, bananas contain a variety of other compounds beneficial to health.

Barley contains beta-glucan, which is a prebiotic fiber.

Beta-glucan in barley has been shown to lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It may also help lower blood sugar levels.

Whole oats are a healthy grain with prebiotic benefits. Like barley, they contain beta-glucan fiber, as well as resistant starch. Oats also contain various phytochemicals that act as prebiotics.

Research also suggests that in addition to their prebiotic properties and their positive impact on healthy gut bacteria, they have other health benefits, such as helping lower cholesterol.

Apples contain pectin, a type of soluble fiber with prebiotic benefits.

Pectin increases butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that feeds beneficial gut bacteria and decreases the population of harmful bacteria. However, more research is needed to fully explore the benefits of pectin in humans.

Konjac root, also known as elephant yam, is a tuber — or a vegetable grown underground, like the potato.

Flour made from this tuber contains 70% to 90% of a highly viscous dietary fiber called glucomannan fiber, which can act as a prebiotic by promoting the growth of good gut bacteria. It also has many other health benefits.

Cocoa beans are seeds from the Theobrama cacao tree used to make chocolate. Cocoa powder makes it easy to add cocoa to oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, and other recipes.

Cocoa is a rich source of polyphenols, such as flavanols, which exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These compounds also help grow beneficial gut bacteria while reducing the growth of harmful bacteria.

Burdock root is a vegetable commonly used in Japan and has proven health benefits.

Burdock root is rich in inulin and FOS, which support the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. It also also contains phenolic compounds.

Flaxseeds are a great source of prebiotics.

The fiber in flaxseeds promotes healthy gut bacteria and encourages regular bowel movements. They also contain phenolic antioxidants.

Yacon root is a vegetable very similar to sweet potatoes that is rich in fiber.

It is particularly rich in prebiotic FOS and inulin. It also contains phenolic compounds that give it antioxidant properties.

Jicama root is low in calories and high in fiber, including the prebiotic fiber inulin.

In older animal research, jicama root was shown to help improve digestive health, enhance insulin sensitivity, and lower blood sugar levels.

Wheat bran is the outer layer of the whole wheat grain. It contains a special type of fiber made of arabinoxylan oligosaccharides (AXOS).

In animal research, AXOS fiber from wheat bran has been shown to boost healthy Bifidobacteria in the gut.

In humans, wheat bran has also been shown to help increase the presence of Bifidobacterium in fecal matter, which leads to softer stools in healthy individuals whose digestion was slow.

Seaweed is a form of marine algae rich in prebiotics, as well as other healthy compounds.

Lab studies have shown that polysaccharides found in seaweed can increase the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which nourish the cells lining your gut.

However, more human research is needed to explore the full benefits of seaweed.

Like apples, avocados contain pectin, which has prebiotic properties.

Research suggests that eating avocadoes regularly can help decrease the levels of bile acids in the feces, increase levels of healthy fatty acids and short-chain fatty acids, and lead to a higher presence of good gut bacteria.

Prebiotic foods are high in special types of fiber that support digestive health.

They promote the increase of friendly bacteria in the gut, help with various digestive problems, and even boost your immune system.

Prebiotic foods have also been shown to improve metabolic health and even help prevent certain diseases.

Since the fiber content of these foods may be altered during cooking, try to consume them raw rather than cooked to gain the full health benefits.

With a variety of options available, you can take your time to find the best prebiotic foods for yourself and your gut.