New research shows this nutrient-packed fruit may be your gut’s best friend
If I had to pick an all-time favorite superfood, there’s no question that avocados would top my short list.
For one thing, avocados are packed with metabolism-revving monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). For reference, my very favorite macadamia nut oil—which I use as the centerpiece of every diet I’ve ever designed—has a whopping 80 percent MUFA content, on average. So I’m always thrilled when other foods naturally contain high levels, too.
And at 71 percent MUFAs, avocado oil comes pretty darn close. Plus, its smoke point—the temperature at which heat begins to damage it—is the highest of any other plant oil. Which is one reason why avocado oil tops my list as a healthy cooking oil, right alongside macadamia nut oil. (Remember, I never recommend using unhealthy vegetable oils, as I explain on page 7).
Not to mention, a single avocado has less than one gram of sugar. (Pretty impressive, considering it’s technically a fruit!) And they are the richest known fruit source of phytosterols. (Phytosterols are plant compounds that compete with cholesterol for intestinal absorption. In other words, they’re natural cholesterol-blockers.)
Avocados boast nearly 5 grams of fiber per fruit. Along with a long list of other antioxidant-rich vitamins and phytonutrients—including potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, B6, C, E, K1, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
These benefits are more than enough to earn avocado a permanent place on your daily menu. But I recently came across new research that sheds some light on what might be the avocado’s most impressive benefit yet…
A five-star meal for your microbiome
A new study from the University of Illinois recently appeared in the Journal of Nutrition. And it shows that a daily serving of avocado can improve your gut health. (Of course, if there’s any message I’ve hammered home over the years, it’s that good health begins and ends with your microbiome.)
This research looked at 163 overweight or obese adults between the ages of 25 and 45 years—all otherwise healthy. (Or at least, as healthy as you can be when overweight.) Each subject received one replacement meal per day for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner for 12 weeks.
The only significant diet change throughout the course of the study was that one group received an avocado with their replacement meal—whereas the other group did not.
And yet, by the time the study period ended, blood, urine, and fecal samples showed that subjects who ate an avocado daily had more fiber-digesting gut microbes, as well as more gut-supporting metabolites. They also had a more diverse microbial population than the subjects that didn’t eat avocado every day.1
Not only that, but avocado consumption lowered bile acids in stool and boosted levels of short chain fatty acids—both improvements that can transform your whole body’s health for the better.
The takeaway here is clear: A balanced microbiome is key for good health. And the biggest microbiome mistake you can make is following the Standard American Diet. That’s why I consistently urge you to adopt a healthy, balanced diet full of fresh, whole foods—which should include a healthy dose of avocadoes.
So, get in the kitchen and whip up some guacamole. Just skip the salty, processed chips and go straight to vegetable slices for dipping instead. Or, simply enjoy your avocado sliced, diced, or straight off the spoon. You can even incorporate it into your homecooked meals. In fact, enjoying a serving of barbacoa or carnitas over a bed of romaine lettuce, smothered with homemade salsa and guacamole (and a pinch of shredded cheese) will fuel you up in a pinch. Buon appétit!
Thompson SV, et al. “Avocado Consumption Alters Gastrointestinal Bacteria Abundance and Microbial Metabolite Concentrations among Adults with Overweight or Obesity: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” J Nutr. 2020 Aug 17; nxaa219.