Sara Middleton via NaturalHealth365 – The avocado, aka the “alligator pear,” might be one of the most popular additions to a brunch spread, Mexican dish, or smoothie thanks to its rich flavor and creamy texture. Yet, in spite of its widespread popularity, many people still doubt if avocados are really good for us.
Well, not only is this fruit healthy for us, but researchers have also determined that the avocado appears to be an excellent dietary choice for boosting gut health. And, with the strength of the immune system being dependent on good digestive function … this news is more important than ever!
Eating One Avocado a Day Improves the Diversity of the Gut Microbiome, New Study Finds
Researchers from the Division of Nutritional Science at the University of Illinois conducted a randomized controlled trial, including 163 adult men and women. Study participants were obese or overweight (and matched by age, sex, and fasting glucose levels). They were given one special meal per day that contained the same amount of calories for both the experimental and the control group – except that the experimental group’s meal had an avocado in it. The men and women in the experimental group ended up eating 175 grams or 140 g of avocado per day for 12 weeks, respectively.
Other than this special meal, the participants were told to maintain their normal diets. After periodically collecting blood, urine, and fecal samples as well as other information related to the meals, the researchers found that after 12 weeks, avocado eaters had:
- Significantly greater diversity and concentrations of certain friendly gut bacteria, including Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, and Alistipes
- Greater fat excreted in the stool along with lower amounts of bile acids, which the researchers interpreted as absorbing less energy from the foods they were eating (which could explain why avocados have been shown to help people lose weight)
The researchers concluded that “this nutrient-dense food affects digestive physiology, as well as the composition and metabolic functions of the intestinal microbiota.”
Beyond Gut Health: Here Are 4 Other Known Health Benefits of Avocado (Plus Tips on How to Purchase)
Need inspiration to add avocado to your grocery list this week? Here are four known health benefits other than improving gut health:
- One medium avocado contains a whopping 12 grams of fiber, nearly half of the daily recommended amount (fiber is good for your gut and also for controlling blood sugar levels and helping you feel full).
- Avocados are loaded with other healthy nutrients, as well, including heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, copper, and potassium.
- Avocado has been associated with improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels (in addition to lowered body fat).
- Fat-rich avocados appear to help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients from other foods more effectively, as was shown in one 2005 study published in the Journal of Nutrition
When possible, buy and use real avocados and avoid buying avocado oils – or at least be very judicious about the brands you trust. A recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal Food Control determined that 82 percent of domestic and imported avocado oils tested were either rancid or contained other oils (including soybean oil) even in some of the products labeled as “extra virgin” or “pure.”
The researchers coded the oils tested, so we don’t know which brands failed to stack up. However, they do offer some tips on buying good avocado oil in their press release:
- While the taste can vary by region, fresh avocado oil should taste a bit like mushrooms – buttery and slightly grassy.
- Virgin avocado oil should be green; refined avocado oil is light yellow to clear.
- Store oil in a cool dark cabinet to preserve its freshness and keep it away from light and heat (ideally, purchase it in a dark glass container) since even high-quality oil goes rancid eventually.
- Rancid avocado oil smells stale, almost like play-dough.
As for buying the real thing, know that your avocado is ready to eat when it feels slightly soft and yields to gentle pressure. If your avocado is too hard, it is probably not ripe enough, if it’s too mushy, it is likely overripe. And, of course, buy organic – whenever possible.