Having an avocado every day as part of your diet will increase healthy gut bacteria and reduce the absorption of fat.
The fruit is rich in fibre and monounsaturated fat, a healthy fat that lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.
A study by Ahmed et al. (2019) suggests that avocados contain a fat molecule that could help prevent diabetes and maintain a healthy weight by improving blood glucose levels, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity.
A new study has found that people who eat avocados have higher levels of gut microbes responsible for breaking down fibres and producing a number of metabolites (short-chain fatty acids) that improve gut health.
Ms Sharon Thompson, the study’s first author, said:
“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.
Microbial metabolites are compounds the microbes produce that influence health.
Avocado consumption reduced bile acids and increased short chain fatty acids.
These changes correlate with beneficial health outcomes.”
Bile acids are produced by the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and released into the intestine for breaking down fats from foods we eat.
Western diets are higher in fats causing more production of bile acids which can alert the gut microbiota population and cause intestinal inflammation.
The study recruited 163 overweight or obese participants and divided them into two groups receiving a normal diet.
The only difference was that one ate fresh avocados (175 g for men or 140 g for women) as part of a meal every day for 12 weeks and the other group had a similar diet but no avocados.
Dr Hannah Holscher, study co-author, said:
“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.
Despite avocados being high in fat, the avocado group absorbed less fat compared to the other group.
Dr Holscher said:
“Greater fat excretion means the research participants were absorbing less energy from the foods that they were eating.
This was likely because of reductions in bile acids, which are molecules our digestion system secretes that allow us to absorb fat.
We found that the amount of bile acids in stool was lower and the amount of fat in the stool was higher in the avocado group.”
Types of fats found in foods affect the gut microbiome differently, for example, avocados contain monounsaturated fats which are considered heart-healthy.
On top of that, avocados are high in soluble fibre: an average avocado contains 12 g of fibres which is a big portion of the daily recommended fibre intake (28 to 34 g).
Dr Holscher said:
“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.
Eating fiber isn’t just good for us; it’s important for the microbiome, too.
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.”
People shouldn’t worry that avocados are high in calories as it is more important that it is a nutrient-dense food that contains micronutrients like fibre and potassium that we don’t get enough of.
The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition (Thompson et al., 2020).