Improving your gut health may be as simple as adding avocados to your daily diet, according to a report from the University of Illinois.

Researchers began their query after considering the nutritional profile of avocados—high in dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat—and wanted to determine the effects on gastrointestinal microbiota.

Their 12-week study involved 163 adults between ages 25 and 45 with overweight or obesity, but otherwise healthy. Participants maintained their normal diets with the exception of replacing one meal per day with a meal provided by researchers. One group’s provided meal included an avocado, while a control group consumed a similar meal without the avocado. Researchers then examined the participants’ blood, urine and fecal samples throughout the study.

Study results showed that those who had an avocado every day as part of a meal had more diverse microbes, as well as a higher number of gut microbes that digest fiber and produce metabolites to support gut health.

Avocado consumption also reduced bile acids and increased short chain fatty acids, which correlate with beneficial health outcomes.

The study suggests that avocados are not only valuable for their fiber content but also may be useful for supporting the gut’s microbiome and overall health.

Read the full study in the Journal for Nutrition (2020; doi: doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxaa219).