16 Best Fruits and Vegetables For Gut Health, According to RDs

Want a healthier gut? Stock up on this produce.

Gut health is certainly a wellness buzzword, but what is it? And how much control do you have over your own gut health? “The gut refers to the entire digestive system. The gut is the foundation for most of our physical and mental wellness,” says Dr. Vincent Pedre, author of The GutSMART Protocol. “When we’re talking about gut health, we’re referring to the health of not just the digestive system and its related organs, like the liver, but also the internal state of balance of the gut microbiome—all the tiny microorganisms living inside the gut. The good news, what you choose to eat can benefit and improve your gut health

Dr. Pedre likens your gut to your body’s root system—it absorbs important nutrients to support all bodily functions, while keeping out bad stuff including bad bacteria, parasites, yeast, toxins, and metabolites. “The gut is command central for the immune system—meaning it can regulate and control the state of alertness of our immune system,” Dr. Pedre says. “The gut also houses the largest community of microorganisms living inside our bodies in the large intestine, which also play a significant role in regulating such things as calorie availability, insulin response, fat deposition and storage, as well as energy, mental clarity, and pain perception. Together, the gut and the gut microbiome are a super organ, which help us process waste and metabolites, while also activating important hormones, like the thyroid hormone,” he explains.

Though no two guts are the same, and no two diets can have the exact same effects, what you eat can certainly impact your gut health. “The type of foods we eat regulates the types of microorganisms that call the gut home,” says Dr. Pedre. “Certain foods are going to promote the growth of bad bacteria, whereas other foods can promote the growth of good bacteria.” For example, eating a variety of foods with different types of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, helps regulate the gut, the absorption of nutrients, and the production of postbiotic nutrients by our internal probiotic bacteria. 

Here are the best fruits and vegetables for gut health, but as always, consult a medical professional to determine which foods are best for your personal gut health.

Garlic and onions 

“Foods rich in prebiotics are like fish food for the gut flora,” says Dr. Pedre. Cooking with onions and garlic can both flavor your food and improve your gut health. Raw onions and garlic are higher in prebiotics, and can be used in vinaigrettes, salsas, or other accouterments for a gut health boost.

Ginger and turmeric

“Spices like ginger and turmeric can also support gut health,” Dr. Pedre adds, regarding tasty roots to consume for a stronger gut. “Ginger promotes gut motility and can ease a wide range of gastrointestinal complaints, like belching, bloating, indigestion, and nausea,” he says. “Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, and studies have shown that it can soothe digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease."


Also in the allium family with garlic and onions, leeks can be beneficial for gut health thanks to their prebiotics, Dr. Pedre says. “The best way to eat for the gut is to eat for your gut bugs—the probiotic bacteria that inhabit the gut and regulate a whole bunch of important aspects of gut health, including the pH of the environment inside the large intestine, as well as product postbiotic nutrients that support the health of the cells of the colon,” he explains.


Artichokes are widely known as an anti-inflammatory, and digestive aid, thanks to their high fiber content and both prebiotic and probiotic content. Enjoy them steamed with a yogurt-based dip to enhance your probiotic intake.


“Chewing fennel seeds after a meal can help aid digestion, as well as prevent gas post-meals,” Dr. Pedre notes. Fennel itself is high in fiber and is a prebiotic food. Thinly slice it to add to salads and sandwiches, or garnish dishes with the fronds.

Brussel Sprouts 

“If you are picky and only like a select few fruits or vegetables, eat those items frequently, but the ultimate goal is to include a wide array of fruits and vegetables in the diet,” says Meredith Sorensen MS, RD, LD at Memorial Hermann in Houston. And if you can add Brussels sprouts, she recommends eating this cruciferous vegetable that’s high in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K to your regular rotation.


Spinach is another of Sorenson’s favorite gut-health veggies. “It’s an extremely versatile dark, leafy green that is a rich source of fiber, iron, and magnesium,” she says. “Big plus is that it can be mixed with so many other fruits and veggies that contain vitamin C to assist with iron absorption.” Buy a package of pre-washed baby spinach to use as the base of a quick salad, use frozen spinach in smoothies with your other favorite fruit and veggies, or sauté or steam it with your favorite dishes—eggs, pasta, whatever!

Sweet potatoes 

Sweet potatoes are a great source of complex carbohydrates for long-lasting energy, as well as vitamin A,” says Sorensen. “Keep the skin on, as this is where much of the fiber resides.” She recommends cubing sweet potatoes, drizzling them with olive oil, sprinkling with garlic powder, and roasting at 425 degrees for 40-45 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.


Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, [and more] are a great source of fiber and antioxidants, which combat stress and inflammation in the body,” says Sorenson. Enjoy fresh berries by the handful, on top of yogurt, or buy them frozen to use in a smoothie or defrost onto a parfait.


“Plantains are a good source of fiber, vitamins, magnesium, and potassium, as well as starchy carbohydrates for long lasting energy,” says Sorensen. She recommends enjoying plantains with her quick air fryer method: Take a ripe plantain and cut the ends off. Then cut a slit along the length of the peel to remove the skin. Chop and place in the air fryer. Spray with olive oil, then air fry for eight minutes on each side at 375 degrees. “You can top with cinnamon for a sweeter palate, or cheese for something more savory,” she recommends.


Bananas are rich in prebiotics that benefit the gut,” says Dr. Pedre. They’re easy to incorporate in your diet because they’re so portable and can be eaten as-is. If you’ve got a bunch of ripe bananas, use ‘em to make banana bites, banana pancakes, and more.


Also high in prebiotic nutrients, Dr. Pedre is a fan of avocados for gut health. “In the same way that prebiotics in vegetables are beneficial to the gut, so are prebiotics found in fruits,” he says. Add avocado to smoothies for a rich creaminess, blend with olive oil to make a dip or salad dressing, or just enjoy it by the spoonful right out of the skin.


Apples have pectin, which provides another source of important fiber for the gut,” says Dr. Pedre. “Apples are also rich in quercetin, another polyphenol nutrient that supports the mucus layer.”


Pomegranates are rich in polyphenols that are prebiotics that won’t trigger gas, like some of the vegetable-based ones, such as garlic and onions, while helping to promote and heal the mucus layer that protects the gut lining,” says Dr. Pedre. Use the seeds on top of salads or roast veggies, or just enjoy a pomegranate as a snack. 

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  1. Di Ciaula A, Portincasa P, Maes N, Albert A. Efficacy of bio-optimized extracts of turmeric and essential fennel oil on the quality of life in patients with irritable bowel syndromeAnn Gastroenterol. 2018;31(6):685-691. doi:10.20524/aog.2018.0304

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