Study Discovers That Avocados Boost Gut Microbiota

A recent study from the University of Illinois shows that consuming avocados daily can improve gut health. While it is common knowledge that avocados are high in monounsaturated fat and dietary fiber, it was unclear how they affected the microbes found in the gut.

The lead author of the paper, Sharon Thompson, stated that while researchers knew that eating avocados decreases blood cholesterol concentration, their influence on the metabolites produced by the microbes in the gut and their influence on the microbes themselves remained unclear.

The researchers discovered that individuals who consumed avocado daily as part of a meal had more gut microbes, thereby producing metabolites that supported gut health and broke down fiber. Additionally, as compared to individuals who did not consume avocados during the study, these individuals had more microbial diversity.

Thompson, a graduate student at the University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences, explained that microbial metabolites are compounds produced by the microbes that affect gut health. Consuming an avocado decreased the bile acids and grew the short chain of fatty acids. These changes are linked to the good health outcomes that were observed by the researchers. The study was reported in the “Journal of Nutrition.”

The study had 163 participants aged between 25 and 45; all participants were either obese or overweight on the BMI scale. The adults received a meal every day to eat as a substitute for either dinner, lunch or breakfast. The control group ate every meal without an avocado while the other group ate an avocado with every meal.

During the three-month study, participants provided fecal, urine and blood samples. In addition, they recorded everything they had eaten and reported how much of the food provided they had consumed. Prior to the beginning of the study, participants had been advised to not change or restrict what they normally consumed. They ate their normal diets and only replaced one meal a day with the meal that the researchers provided to them.

The senior author of the study, Hannah Holscher, explained that the study’s purpose was to learn more about how the consumption of avocado affected gastrointestinal microbiota instead of focusing on weight loss. The researchers discovered that even though the group that ate an avocado consuming a few more calories than the other group, participants from the group excreted slightly more fat and had a lesser amount of bile acids in their stools. This led the researchers to believe that the participants absorbed less energy from the food they were eating.

Holscher noted that soluble fiber content was important, adding that including avocados in one’s diet would help meet the recommended fiber intake of 28 to 34 grams daily.

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