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5 Examples of Prebiotic Foods Kids Love

We get it, it’s not always easy to get kids to eat nutritious foods. As a dietitian committed to promoting healthy habits in kids, I see parents struggle daily to get their little ones to eat enough fruits and vegetables. We know that prebiotic fiber is important for nurturing a healthy gut microbiome in kids, but how do we get kids to actually eat foods that contain prebiotics? The great news is that there are several prebiotic options that generally resonate well with our little ones - it’s all about presentation and how we introduce these foods to our kiddos. Let's review five examples of these nutrient-rich and delicious options in this blog.

1. Berries

Berries, such as blueberries and strawberries are naturally sweet and colorful, making them a fun option for kids. They contain polyphenols and prebiotic fiber that contributes to a diverse gut microbiota. Studies find that blueberries in particular can promote beneficial bacteria growth for a more balanced gut environment [1,4]. One cup of blueberries provides 4g of fiber to support regularity. For a fun way to serve blueberries to kiddos, check out this recipe for a two-ingredient blueberry vegan “nice” cream.

2. Apples

Pectin, a type of fiber found in apples, acts as a prebiotic to provide benefits for gut health. Research suggests that pectin promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, supporting healthier digestion and improved immunity [5]. Try slicing apples into rings and serving them with your kiddo’s favorite gut-friendly nut butter as a healthy afternoon snack.

3. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet which makes them a great introductory fiber-rich vegetable for kids to try. This root vegetable contains two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber increases healthy gut bacteria, which in turn, help improve digestion. Insoluble fiber on the other hand, can help support constipation relief [3]. Sweet potatoes can be served in many different ways, with the most common being sweet potato fries, mashed sweet potatoes or baked sweet potatoes. If you have a picky eater who is hesitant to try sweet potatoes due to texture issues, try switching up the way they are served.

4. Pears

Pears are not just refreshing and sweet but also a great source of prebiotic fiber. Pears, similar to prunes, contain natural sugars that act as a gentle laxative [6]. Getting creative with pear slices and turning them into these puppy pears can be a fun way to get kiddos to enjoy more of this healthy fruit.

5. Green Kiwi

Data from research studies reveal that consuming two green kiwis daily for four weeks consistently increased bowel movements and decreased gastrointestinal comfort [7]. Kiwis have also been studied for its prebiotic effect, boosting friendly gut bacteria such as bifidobacteria for digestive health [8]. For a fun snack twist using kiwis, try freezing slices and turning them into frozen kiwi popsicles.

Recommended Daily Fiber Intake by Age 

Age (years)

Fiber (in grams)

1 to 3 years

19 grams

4 to 8 years

25 grams

9 to 13 years (female)

26 grams

9 to 13 years (male)

31 grams

Source: Cleveland Health Clinic

Summary: Prebiotic foods can be both delicious and beneficial for our kid’s health. Ensuring a diverse range of prebiotic-rich foods such as berries, apples, sweet potatoes, pears, and kiwis in your kid’s diet can create a foundation for their gut health, supporting a healthier digestion and immune system. These fruits are naturally sweet and palatable which makes them great options for kids. Need more support for expanding your kiddo’s food palate? Check out our tips here from a Registered Dietitian: 4 Tips to Expand your Picky Eating Kid’s Food Palette.

References:

[1] Tomás-Barberán FA, Selma MV, Espín JC. Interactions of gut microbiota with dietary polyphenols and consequences to human health. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2016 Nov;19(6):471-476. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000314. PMID: 27490306.

[2] Singh, R.K., Chang, HW., Yan, D. et al. Influence of diet on the gut microbiome and implications for human health. J Transl Med 15, 73 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-017-1175-y

[3] Amagloh FC, Yada B, Tumuhimbise GA, Amagloh FK, Kaaya AN. The Potential of Sweetpotato as a Functional Food in Sub-Saharan Africa and Its Implications for Health: A Review. Molecules. 2021 May 17;26(10):2971. doi: 10.3390/molecules26102971. PMID: 34067782; PMCID: PMC8156662.

[4] Lavefve L , Howard LR , Carbonero F . Berry polyphenols metabolism and impact on human gut microbiota and health. Food Funct. 2020 Jan 29;11(1):45-65. doi: 10.1039/c9fo01634a. PMID: 31808762.

[5] Jiang T, Gao X, Wu C, Tian F, Lei Q, Bi J, Xie B, Wang HY, Chen S, Wang X. Apple-Derived Pectin Modulates Gut Microbiota, Improves Gut Barrier Function, and Attenuates Metabolic Endotoxemia in Rats with Diet-Induced Obesity. Nutrients. 2016 Feb 29;8(3):126. doi: 10.3390/nu8030126. PMID: 26938554; PMCID: PMC4808856.

[6] Reiland H, Slavin J. Systematic Review of Pears and Health. Nutr Today. 2015 Nov;50(6):301-305. doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000112. Epub 2015 Nov 23. PMID: 26663955; PMCID: PMC4657810.

[7] Gearry R, Fukudo S, Barbara G, Kuhn-Sherlock B, Ansell J, Blatchford P, Eady S, Wallace A, Butts C, Cremon C, Barbaro MR, Pagano I, Okawa Y, Muratubaki T, Okamoto T, Fuda M, Endo Y, Kano M, Kanazawa M, Nakaya N, Nakaya K, Drummond L. Consumption of 2 Green Kiwifruits Daily Improves Constipation and Abdominal Comfort-Results of an International Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial. Am J Gastroenterol. 2023 Jun 1;118(6):1058-1068. doi: 10.14309/ajg.0000000000002124. Epub 2022 Dec 20. PMID: 36537785; PMCID: PMC10226473.

[8] Lee YK, Low KY, Siah K, Drummond LM, Gwee KA. Kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) changes intestinal microbial profile. Microb Ecol Health Dis. 2012 Jun 18;23. doi: 10.3402/mehd.v23i0.18572. PMID: 23990838; PMCID: PMC3747767.

May Zhu, RDN

May Zhu, RDN

May is the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and nutrition expert at Begin Health.



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