If you’ve been with us for a while, you know that we’re really big on gut health around here. A happy gut leads to a happy, healthy immune system. And you know what makes your gut happy?
The Hass Avocado Board funded a new study at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where researchers found enough evidence to make the Hulk-colored fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) a staple in our regular diets. The Journal of Nutrition published the findings in the August 2020 issue.
In short, what the researchers concluded is that eating avocados daily can drastically improve a person’s overall gut health.
That’s not big news; we already knew that, right?
Well, the researchers weren’t going for the already obvious conclusions that avocados are good for weight loss or management. They were aiming for something else — namely, how avocados affect the digestive system.
Lead study author Sharon Thompson remarked, “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.”
They noted in their paper that avocado is also high in fiber and that research has shown high-fiber foods to be good for digestive health.
For the study, 163 participants between the ages of 25 and 45 were divided into two groups.
The University of Illinois team hoped to gauge the effect of daily avocado consumption on overweight or obese individuals who were otherwise in good health.
The researchers divided the study participants into two groups. Over 12 weeks, one group ate a meal that included avocado. Each participant could have the replacement meal at breakfast, lunch, or dinner; the essential factor was that they ate avocado as part of a single meal each day. The control group ate similar meals but without an avocado.
All the participants provided blood, urine, and fecal samples throughout the 3-month study period. They reported how much of the provided meal they ate, and each month, they turned in a complete list of everything they consumed.
Ultimately, the study showed that eating avocado with at least one meal per day leads to greater healthful microbes in the stomach and intestines. The avocado group also excreted slightly more fat in their stools than the control group.
Gross, but good as senior author and assistant professor of nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois, Hannah Holscher explains,
“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.”
Holscher, Thompson, and the other researchers had a very straightforward goal heading into the study.
“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.”
Of course, what they found is that avocados are even more awesome than they initially thought.
If you need any more of a reason to love the almighty avocado, take a look at what a powerful punch it delivers. It is loaded with:
- Vitamin K: 26% of the daily value (DV)
- Folate: 20% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 17% of the DV
- Potassium: 14% of the DV
- Vitamin B5: 14% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 10% of the DV
- It also contains small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous, and vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), and B3 (niacin).
With their mild flavor and creamy textures, avocados are perfect for sweet or savory dishes. And if you don’t care to eat them straight out of the peel with a little salt, you can hide them in smoothies. But, if you want to go crazy, you can turn it into guacamole or throw it on some toast and feel your taste buds have a party.
That’s right; You now have permission from your favorite health coach: Order extra guac (just… don’t eat it with chips).