Newswise — University of Illinois researchers found that people who ate avocado daily as part of a meal had a greater abundance of gut microbes that break down fiber and produce metabolites that support gut health. Study participants consumed their normal diets with the exception of replacing one meal per day with a provided meal that included an avocado.

In the same study, the researchers also found the females who consumed an avocado a day as part of their meal had a reduction in visceral abdominal fat – the hard-to-target fat associated with poorer health. Their reduced ratio of visceral fat to subcutaneous fat indicates a redistribution of fat away from the organs. Fat distribution in males did not change, and neither males nor females had improvements in glucose tolerance.

Avocado is an energy and nutrient-dense food, which contains monounsaturated, heart-healthy fats. It also has a high content of soluble fiber and important micronutrients such as potassium.

“Just like we think about heart-healthy meals, we should also think about gut healthy meals and how to feed the microbiota. Less than 5% of Americans eat enough fiber. Incorporating avocados into your diet can help you get closer to meeting the fiber recommendation. Avocado is just a really nicely packaged fruit that contains important nutrients for health. Our work shows we can add benefits to gut health to that list,” says Hannah Holscher, an associate professor of nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Holscher also has affiliate appointments with the Institute of Genomic Biology, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the Family Resiliency Center, and the Personalized Nutrition Initiative. She is the director of the Nutrition & Human Microbiome Laboratory, and her research team aims to enhance human health through dietary modulation of the gastrointestinal microbiome.

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