What Foods Are High in Butyrate?


Butyrate is the ester or salt of butyric acid with fruity odor and low water solubility. Butyrate salts can be prepared by distillation of certain essential oils extracted from the vegetables, or from synthetic butyric acid derivatives. The salts might help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, and proliferation and differentiation of the cells in the digestive tract. Certain animal studies, such as the one published in the July 2009 issue of the journal "Diabetes," also indicate that butyrate might help improve insulin sensitivity and increase energy expenditure. Butyrate can be found naturally in several foods. It can also be added as a supplement or flavoring agent in others.


Vegetables for sale at a farmers market. (Image: Junghee Choi/iStock/Getty Images)

Whole Grains

The bacteria found in your gastrointestinal tract can produce significant amounts of butyrate by fermenting dietary fiber and non-digestible carbohydrates. Consuming fiber-rich foods such as barley, oats, brown rice and bran are a healthy way of obtaining butyrate in your body. A study published in the November 2010 issue of the "Journal of Nutrition" also states that an evening cereal meal rich in indigestible carbohydrates might increase the plasma butyrate concentration the next morning, and this might be the mechanism by which whole grain helps prevent diabetes and heart disease.


Fruits and Vegetables

Consumption of fruits and vegetables such as green beans, legumes, leafy greens, apples, kiwi and oranges might also increase the plasma butyrate content because of increased fiber content. Fruits also provide several vitamins and minerals and are one of the best and healthy sources of butyrate.

Milk Fat

Sodium butyrate is a dietary component found commonly in milk fat and foods such as cheese and butter, says the "Diabetes" journal article. However, it is important to limit the consumption of these foods as they are high in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol and might increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist before consuming cheese and butter for their butyrate content.

Food Flavors

Butyric acid esters or butyrates are used to manufacture artificial plant oil flavors and essences. Amyl butyrate is a major component of apricot oil, while methyl butyrate is found in pineapple oil. Apart from being used as a flavoring agent, pineapple oil is also used to promote bone growth, heal dental surgeries and treat colds, sore throats and acute sinusitis, according to the natural product manufacturer OCA Brazil.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES Diabetes; Butyrate Improves Insulin Sensitivity and Increases Energy Expenditure in Mice; Zhanguo Gao et al Organic Chemistry; Finar Journal of Nutrition; A Cereal-Based Evening Meal Rich in Indigestible Carbohydrates Increases Plasma Butyrate the Next Morning; A.C. Nilsson et al