Urbana, IL—Eating avocado daily can help improve gut health,according to a new studyfrom the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

The study included 163 overweight or obese, but healthy, adults between 25 and 45 years of age. They replaced one meal per day with a meal provided by the researchers. One group consumed an avocado with the replacement meal, while the other group did not. The participants provided blood, urine, and fecal samples throughout the 12-week study, as well as reports of how much of the provided meals they consumed. Participants in the study continued to eat their normal diet otherwise.

The results: Those who ate avocado daily had a greater abundance of gut microbes that break down fiber and produce metabolites that support gut health. They also had greater microbial diversity.

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Avocados contain monounsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy, as well as around 12 grams of soluble fiber and micronutrients like potassium, according to a press release on the topic. Avocado consumption reduced bile acids and increased short chain fatty acids, changes correlated with beneficial health outcomes.

"Just like we think about heart-healthy meals, we need to also be thinking about gut healthy meals and how to feed the microbiota," explained senior author Hannah Holscher, Assistant Professor of Nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at U of I. Avocado, she says, is a worthwhile fruit to be thinking about. "It's just a really nicely packaged fruit that contains nutrients that are important for health. Our work shows we can add benefits to gut health to that list.”