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New Research Shows Eating Avocados Supports a Healthy Gut

A close up of half of an avocado on a pale green background.

 Ricardo Roa/EyeEm / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • A new study found that eating one avocado every day for 12 weeks had a positive effect on the diversity of the gut microbiome.
  • A less diverse gut microbiome has been linked to the development of obesity and many health problems.
  • Adding foods like avocados, fermented foods, and whole grains to your diet can improve the diversity of your gut microbiome.

According to a new study, eating one avocado a day can help keep the microbes in your gut healthy, diverse, and balanced. The study's findings were published in August in The Journal of Nutrition.

“We've known for some time that people should eat more fiber for gut health, but now there's research to prove it when it comes to the green goodness we all know and love: avocados,” Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD, a California-based registered dietitian and the author of "Instant Pot For Dummies," tells Verywell.

The Study

The trial, which was supported by the Hass Avocado Board, followed the health and diets of 163 overweight adults. One group was asked to eat one Hass avocado—a specific variant of the fruit— a day and the other group was not.

In the participants who ate one avocado per day for 12 weeks, the researchers observed positive changes in gut bacteria, including increased bacterial diversity.

“Not only did the participants improve their gut health with avocado consumption, but they did not have to adhere to a restrictive diet and eliminate foods,” Shaw says.

It's important to keep in mind that a single study's findings cannot be generalized to a larger population. However, the results of the recent trial add to a growing body of evidence that avocados help manage the intestinal microbiome.

What This Means For You

A diverse gut microbiome can benefit your health. If you like avocado, adding one to your diet each day can help improve the diversity of your gut microbes. Even though they are a rich source of healthy fat, they are not likely to contribute to weight gain if enjoyed in moderation.

Additional Research

Another small study funded by the Haas Avocado Board found that the gut microbiota of overweight or obese adults differed in response to an avocado-inclusive diet compared to controls.

People who consumed an avocado every day for 12 weeks had more abundant gut bacteria, suggesting that the fiber in avocados plays a positive role in gut health.

“So often, clients who restrict their intakes to follow a specific diet pattern end up losing the progress they made in their overall health because it wasn't sustainable," Shaw says. "This shows that adding heart-healthy foods like avocados into a balanced diet may be a great new diet trend to improve your gut health."

What About Weight Gain?

Avocados are rich in monounsaturated “good fat.” While the avocado group in the study consumed slightly more calories than the control group, they also expelled slightly more fat in their stool. This means that fewer calories were absorbed from the foods they ate. At the 12-week follow-up, body weights did not differ between the two groups.

Gut Diversity and Health

The term gut microbiome refers to the collective microorganisms living in your intestines. Approximately 100 trillion microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and others, exist in the human gastrointestinal tract.

Having a diverse microbiome means that you have a range of different organisms in your gut, many of which offer health benefits.

Reduced bacterial diversity in the gut ha been linked to:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Arthritis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Atopic eczema
  • Celiac disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Arterial stiffness
  • Obesity

You can work toward having a diverse gut microbiome by paying attention to what you eat. Specific foods and dietary patterns can influence the types of bacteria in your gut (bacterial diversity), which in turn can affect your health.

Why Avocados for Gut Health?

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends a daily fiber intake ranging from 19 grams to 38 grams per day, depending on several factors like your age.

Despite the recommendation, approximately 95% of American adults and children do not consume recommended amounts of fiber. Including foods like avocados in your healthy diet can help you meet your daily fiber requirements.

Avocados are a good source of dietary fiber (11% of the recommended daily value). One-third of an avocado contains 3 grams of fiber (1.2 grams of which is pectin).

Fruit fiber, such as pectin, has been shown to promote a healthy gut microbiome. Scientists suggest this might be the case because of pectin's positive effect on beneficial live probiotics. 

Fiber might also protect the lining of the colon by increasing the bulk and weight of stool and speeding elimination. It also adds bulk to your diet and slows the speed of digestion, which makes you feel fuller longer.

Improving Gut Health

If you like avocados and already make them part of your diet, the recent research supports continuing to enjoy them regularly. However, if you are not an avocado-lover, know that there are other ways you can support your gut health. 

Brittany Scanniello, RD, a Colorado-based registered dietitian, says that people can support a healthy microbiota by making simple changes in their diet, including:

  • Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables (with the skin)
  • Including fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt, and kefir in your diet
  • Limiting your consumption of artificial sweeteners
  • Opting for whole-grain foods instead of those made with refined grains

If you want to start including more avocados in your diet, there are many ways to enjoy them. From adding them to a smoothie, slicing them up to top a sandwich, or making guacamole, avocados are incredibly versatile.

If you're especially eager and buy more avocados than you can eat before they get too ripe, you can freeze them. Peel and slice them first, then pop them in the freezer to have avocados year-round.

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Article Sources
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