Eating avocado as part of a daily diet may help improve gut health, according to a new study from the University of Illinois.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. This saying is well known and it seems to apply to other foods. Eating avocado daily helps improve gut health, according to a study conducted by the University of Illinois (USA). Avocados are a healthy food rich in dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat, but how they impact microbes in the gastrointestinal system was not yet well understood.

"We know that eating avocados helps you feel full and lowers blood cholesterol levels, but we didn't know how this influences gut microbes and metabolites produced by microbes," said Sharon Thompson, graduate student in the Division. of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois and the lead author of the article. The findings were published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Researchers found that people who ate avocado with every meal had more gut microbes that break down fiber and produce metabolites. They also had greater microbial diversity. "Microbial metabolites are compounds that microbes produce that influence health. Consumption of avocado reduced bile acids and increased short-chain fatty acids. These changes correlate with beneficial health outcomes." , summarized the author of the study.

This research included 163 adults aged 25 to 45 who were overweight or obese but in good health. They were given one meal a day to be consumed in lieu of breakfast, lunch or dinner. One group consumed an avocado with each meal, while the control group ate a similar meal but without the avocado. Participants provided blood, urine, and fecal samples throughout the study for 12 weeks. The participants followed their normal diet.


More fat in the stool

The aim of this study was to explore the effects of avocado consumption on the gastrointestinal microbiota. "Our goal was to test the hypothesis that avocado fats and fibers positively affect the gut microbiota. We also wanted to explore the relationships between gut microbes and health outcomes," explained Hannah Holscher, assistant professor at nutrition in the Department of Food Sciences and Human Nutrition.

The researchers found that the group who ate an avocado consumed more calories. “Greater fat excretion meant that participants took in less energy from food. This was likely due to the reduction in bile acids, which are molecules secreted by our digestive system that allow us to absorb fat. We found that the amount of bile acids in the stool was lower and the amount of fat in the stool was higher in the avocado group, ”summarized the author of this study.

The soluble fiber content is also very important. An average avocado provides around 12 grams of fiber, which helps achieve the recommended amount of 28 to 34 grams of fiber per day. Less than 5% of Americans get enough fiber. Most people get around 12 to 16 grams of fiber per day. Thus, incorporating avocados into your diet can help move closer to recommendations, says the medical team. She recalls that fiber is fundamental for the microbiome: "We can't break down dietary fiber, but some gut microbes can. When we consume dietary fiber, it's a win-win for the gut microbes and for us."