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Forget apples, eat an avocado a day

Packed with ‘good fats’, fibre, potassium and a number of vitamins, avocados have long been considered a superfood. New research shows that they are great for gut health, too

Avocados are good for gut health (Photo: Daria Shevtsova/Pexels)
Avocados are good for gut health (Photo: Daria Shevtsova/Pexels)

It’s not just millennials who swear by the fruit and drive up avocado prices around the world with an overwhelming obsession with avocado toast— avocados are worth every bit of the hype they receive.

Avocados are popular among those on a keto diet or intermittent fasting (IF) too— with the former because of the high content of healthy fats (monounsaturated fatty acids), essential to the keto diet, and with the latter because IF can deplete the body of potassium, which avocados contain in abundance.

Even though they are not a mainstream part of the urban Indian diet, avocado consumption is on the rise in India, especially in the southern states where avocado aka butterfruit has substantial cultivation in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In the northern states, Sikkim is one of the biggest producers, while even in states like Punjab, avocado cultivation is being encouraged.

Avocados (Persea americana) truly represent nature’s bounty. They are filled with nutrients like Vitamins C, B2, B3, B5, B6 and E, as well as folate and minerals like magnesium, are a great source of good fats and potassium as mentioned earlier and loaded with fibre— the best part being the superfruit delivers many of these benefits in a single serving. For instance, 1 avocado contains around 10 gm of fibre, with the recommended daily intake value of fibre being 25 gm for women and 35 gm for men. Also, a whopping 77% of the calories in a single avocado comes from fat, making it a natural ‘fat bomb’ for those on low-carbohydrate and high-fat, high-protein diets.

And now research shows that avocados are good for gut health too. A study at the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences has revealed how the consumption of avocados impacts microbes in the gastrointestinal system. “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, ”said Sharon Thompson, a graduate student in the division of nutritional sciences at the institute and lead author of the paper. The researchers found that people who ate avocados every day as part of a meal had a greater abundance of gut microbes that break down fibre and produce metabolites that promote gut health. They also had greater microbial diversity compared to people who did not consume avocado during the course of the study, the results of which were published in a paper in the Journal of Nutrition.

How to include avocado in your everyday diet:

Use avocado oil: Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, and aids in the absorption of carotenoids and other nutrients. Use it to make salad dressings, marinades and even to stir-fry and cook as the oil has a high smoking point of above 250 degrees centrigrade.

Avocado oil is available in India
Avocado oil is available in India

Make an avocado smoothie: Scoop out the flesh of a ripe avocado and add it to a blender jar with milk, yoghurt, honey and a few drops of vanilla extract for a creamy smoothie.

Make avocado toast: Take the flesh of the avocado in a bowl, add salt, chili flakes, a drizzle of olive oil, a few slivers of chopped garlic, and any other herbs and seasoning you want like, and mash it up well. Spread on toast and eat fresh.

Avocado toast (Photo: Daria Shevtsova/Pexels)
Avocado toast (Photo: Daria Shevtsova/Pexels)

Make an avocado salad: Chop up the flesh of a ripe avocado, add chopped cucumber, tomatoes, onions, the juice of one lemon, and salt. Toss it up well and have it as a snack or with a meal.

Make avocado soup: Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a wok and pour some chicken or vegetable stock in. Blend the fruit and add it to the stock with salt, pepper, oregano and any other seasonings you like. Stir it till the consistency is thick and creamy. Top it up with some fresh cream and serve hot.

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