Regular consumption of avocados is good for gut health, researchers have said.
Defined as a fruit, the avocado is deemed a good fat and has long been associated with positive health benefits.
But, a team from the University of Illinois wanted to investigate exactly how the fats and fibre contained in the ingredient impacts the gut microbiota.
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Lead author Sharon Thompson, a graduate student from the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University, 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.”
Lead researcher, Dr Hannag Holscher, from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University, added: “The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of avocado consumption on the gastrointestinal microbiota. Our goal was to test the hypothesis that the fats and the fibre in avocados positively affect the gut microbiota. We also wanted to explore the relationships between gut microbes and health outcomes.”
A total of 163 adults between 25 and 45 years of age were involved in the trial. Some of them were overweight or obese but otherwise healthy.
During the study, some of the male participants were given 175g of avocado and women received 140g every day for 12 weeks.
Over the course of the trial each volunteer was asked to provide blood, urine, and stool samples. They also had to note how much they ate of each meal they were given.
The findings suggested that the people who ate avocado everyday had greater amounts of microbes in their gut which are integral to breaking down fibre and producing metabolites that support gut health.
The research team also found that although those in the avocado group consumed more calories, there were greater amounts of fat excreted in their stool.
Dr Holscher said: “Greater fat excretion means the research participants were absorbing less energy from the foods that they were eating.
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“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.
“A medium avocado provides around 12 grams of fibre, which goes a long way toward meeting the recommended amount of 28 to 34 grams of fibre per day. Eating fibre isn’t just good for us; it’s important for the microbiome, too.”