We often hear about eating and living “heart-healthy” but now a new study suggests we should be eating “gut-healthy” too! Avocados, which are full of good fats, may be the way to go, according to this study. The consumption of just one avocado a day may promote the growth of beneficial gut microbes, researchers say.
One Avocado a Day
A recent study found that people who ate an avocado a day with one meal had a significantly high amount of good gut microbes that work to break down necessary nutrients like fiber and good fats. The study also revealed evidence of more variety in the metabolites that assist in digestion and impact gut health.
“We know eating avocados helps you feel full and reduces blood cholesterol concentration, but we did not know how it influences the gut microbes, and the metabolites the microbes produce,” says Sharon Thompson in a statement. Thompson is the lead author on the paper and a graduate student in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois.
Study participants (163 overweight or obese adults between 24 and 45 years old) replaced one of their three normal meals with food provided by the researchers. One group ate an avocado with the provided meal and the other group ate a similar meal without the avocado. Over a 12-week period, participants provided samples of blood, urine, and feces regularly and reported everything they ate.
The study’s intent was focused on how the microbiota in the gut is affected by eating avocados, according to Hannah Holscher, senior author of the study and assistant professor of nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at U of I.
“Our goal was to test the hypothesis that the fats and the fiber in avocados positively affect the gut microbiota. We also wanted to explore the relationships between gut microbes and health outcomes,” Holscher says.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy, good fats, and very high in soluble fiber. A medium avocado yields about 12 grams of fiber…a good portion of the recommended daily amount of 28 to 34 grams.
“Less than 5% of Americans eat enough fiber. Most people consume around 12 to 16 grams of fiber per day. Thus, incorporating avocados in your diet can help get you closer to meeting the fiber recommendation,” Holscher adds.
Generally, Americans don’t eat enough gut-healthy foods, like those high in potassium and fiber. Avocados are both energy-dense and nutrient-dense because they provide those important micronutrients.
“It’s just a really nicely packaged fruit that contains nutrients that are important for health. Our work shows we can add benefits to gut health to that list,” Holscher says. And who isn’t here for more guacamole in their life?
The paper is published in the Journal of Nutrition.