Science Says Eating an Avocado a Day Can Help Improve Your Gut Health
You've enjoyed it as a topping on toast, in your morning smoothie, or on top of your favorite salad: In addition to boosting the flavor of your meals, avocado is a beloved healthy fat known to help lower cholesterol levels. But the health benefits of eating this delicious and versatile fruit (yes, fruit!) don't end there. According to Science Daily, avocados can also help improve your gut health. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences discovered that people who eat at least one avocado each day experienced more gut microbes that could break down fiber and had an increase in metabolites that help 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, a graduate student in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois and the lead author for the study. To uncover their findings, the team examined 163 adults (between the ages of 25 and 45) who were overweight or obese, but still healthy otherwise. The participants each got one meal each day during the study that served as a replacement for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. One portion of the group had an avocado with the meal, and the other ate a meal without the fruit. During the 12 weeks, participants gave blood, urine, and fecal samples and shared what they ate every four weeks.
After completing the study, the researchers found that avocados helped participants get closer to the suggested amount of daily fiber (28 to 36 grams). "Less than five percent 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," Hannah Holscher, the assistant professor of nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at University of Illinois and the senior author of the study, said. Plus, eating the fiber created microbes to help the digestive system. "We can't break down dietary fibers, but certain gut microbes can. When we consume dietary fiber, it's a win-win for gut microbes and for us," adds Holscher.
With their discovery, the team highlights that avocados have the benefits to help your body in general. "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 said.