If you find yourself getting bloated and gassy after eating avocados – or dishes containing them like guacamole – you might be wondering if you have to give them up completely – and the answer is probably not. But here’s what you need to know about why avocado causes gas.
You know that saying every day is a school day, well today, I got schooled. When I was thinking about the answer to this question, I couldn’t see an obvious reason why avocado would leave you gassy.
Yes it has fibre, but the biggest contributor to avocado calories is fat and, while that can lead to some digestive issues, fat isn’t a normal gas trigger – but, then I checked the advice from the guru’s at Australia’s Monash University that I turn to first when writing these posts and discovered exactly why avocado might cause gas and bloating. So, let’s get into the reasons…
- Reasons Why Avocado May Cause Bloating
- How to Stop Avocado Causing Gas
- What About Avocado Oil?
- What About Guacamole?
- Does Avocado Type Matter?
- A Note on Latex Allergy and Avocadoes
- How to Release Bloating from Avocadoes
Reasons Why Avocado May Cause Bloating
Bloating is caused when gas builds up in the intestine – and for that you can thank the bugs in your gut that help you digest foods. As they do this, they create gas – which can lead to bloating.
Pretty much any food can lead to gas, but, it’s true that some have characteristics that make them more likely to trigger the issue. There are a lot of these (We covered 11 in this post on why bloating can happen after eating) – and here’s what the main ones are for avocado.
Avocado Has FODMAPs
If that acronym is new to you, FODMAPs are basically types of sugar found in many, many different foods. They can’t be digested by our body, and while they hang around the system waiting to be passed out they provide a food for the bacteria that lives in our gut – and, as the little fellas feast, they produce gas.
This happens in everyone, but some people produce more gas, or are more sensitive to the feelings created by the gas than others – leading to bloating, wind and sometimes gut pain and cramping. Yes all the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Specifically avocado is high in a sugar called sorbitol, which belongs to a family of sugars called polyols – and, if you’re sensitive to this, or polyols in general, then just 80g (around half an average avocado) is likely to set off your digestive symptoms.
Avocado Has Fibre
Fibre might also be an issue – again, you might not think of avocado as a fibrous food, after all, it’s soft and easy to chew, unlike most high fibre foods – but, there’s actually about 7gm of fibre in half an avocado – 100g of cooked brown rice (about 30g of dry weight rice) contains 2gm.
Like FODMAPs, fibre is food that your gut bacteria love to chomp on, and this can lead to excessive gas being produced – especially if you suddenly increase the fibre in your diet.
Avocado Increases Gut Bugs
Here’s a fun fact – when scientists checked the levels of gut bacteria in people carrying a few extra pounds before and after eating a diet containing one avocado a day for 12 weeks, they discovered that the amount, and diversity, of gut bacteria they carried increased.
This is a good thing – the more types of good gut bacteria we have the better for all round health, but, the study also pointed out that specifically, the number of fibre-fermenting bugs increased – and if you have more bugs around that ferment fibre, that can mean more gas.
Whether the same effect happens in those who aren’t carrying extra pounds hasn’t been identified, but, this could be another reason why you’ve started to get gassy after introducing more avocado into your diet. You’ve simply made more healthy bugs.
How to Stop Avocado Causing Gas
You might think the only solution to this issue is to stop eating avocado, but you don’t want to do that – as you’ve seen they are a good source of fibre, your gut bugs thrive when you consume them and, they are packed with healthy fats.
Avocado consumption has also been linked to a number of positive health benefits – including lowered cholesterol, better weight control and providing antioxidants that protect your eyes against UV damage – so, instead the key to beating bloating caused by avocado is to work around the issue and find a way to either stop them causing gas – or at least stop it bothering you.
Let’s deal with prevention first…
Eat Smaller Portions
The number one thing to try when trying to stop avocado causing bloat is reducing your portion sizes. The thing about FODMAPs is that most people who are sensitive to them have a threshold at which they can tolerate them without developing symptoms, you just need to find what yours is.
With avocado, a portion size of 30g – about an eighth of an avocado – is classed as a low FODMAP serving meaning most people will be able to tolerate this.
Some people might even get away with 45g which is classed as a medium FODMAP food.
The only way to tell for sure is to give it a try for yourself.
Watch Your Meal Balance
Cutting your portion size of avocado won’t help if you’re eating other foods contain polyols, particularly sorbitol, at the same meal. So, you need to balance things.
Other foods that contain high levels of polyols include stone fruits like apricots, cherries and plums, and vegetables including cauliflower, celery and sweet potatoes. They’re also found in artificially sweetened goods. Stack a few of these in a meal and you can easily reach your threshold of polyols via your meal rather than just with one food.
That’s why, if you suspect you have an issue with FODMAPs it’s important to work with a dietician rather than trying to solve the problem yourself, it can be hard to balance your diet otherwise.
If you’re not quite at that stage yet, have a look at this book by the nutritional experts at Australia’s Monash University who discovered the link between FODMAPs and bloating.
It explains exactly which foods appear in which FODMAP group and helps you determine which, if any, might be a problem for you.
Build Up Slowly
If you have suddenly gone from eating a low fibre diet to a high fibre one then you might have over excited your gut bugs – dial things back a bit. Introduce a little bit more fibre at one meal, then two, then three to slowly get the bacteria used to your new eating regime.
At this point, you might have a few questions about different forms of avocado so, let’s get into those…
What About Avocado Oil?
If whole avocado can cause bloating, what about the oil made from it?
According to Monash, a tablespoon of avocado oil is classed as a low FODMAP food.
Using avocado oil shouldn’t therefore be linked to bloating.
What About Guacamole?
This is tricky.
Normally, mashing a food makes it easier and quicker for your body to digest – which in theory could mean that the gut bacteria have less time to feast on it which could mean less gas is produced. However, they also have more surface area to munch on, which could lead to more gas being produced.
However, because the Monash team haven’t specifically measured whether mashing the avocado in guacamole affects FODMAP levels you should really assume that the effect is likely to be the same as with whole avocado, and stick to a portion size of 30g.
If that’s not going to be enough gloop to go with your corn chips, check out this low FODMAP guacamole recipe from Monash which adds cream cheese to increase the portion size without relying entirely on avocado.
Oh and, before you ask – 50g of corn chips is also a low FODMAP food!
Does Avocado Type Matter?
While sugar types can vary very slightly between the different types of avocado, the bigger issue is that some avocado species are much larger than others.
If you’re eating an eighth of a large Hass avocado, that’s going to give you more avocado than eating an eighth of a smaller variety like a Shepherd (for our Aussie readers) – or if you’re in the US, tucking into a giant round Reed avocado is going to give you a very different result that eating an eighth of a smaller teardrop type like a Lula.
For this reason, if you are sensitive to avocados you should use a set of scales and make sure the portion is not over 30g no matter what type of avocado it comes from.
A Note on Latex Allergy and Avocadoes
Admittedly, gas and bloating are unlikely to be the only symptoms of this, and other symptoms are far more common, but, I’m going to mention it just in case you’re ignoring a mild presentation of the other symptoms and focusing on the gut ones.
Proteins in avocadoes are similar in structure to the protein founds in latex and so, if you have an allergy to latex, you can also react to foods containing these proteins.
As I said, stomach discomfort is unlikely to be the only symptom of this – but, if you’ve noticed that you mouth itches when you eat avocadoes, if you get a bit wheezy or your nose starts to run, you should talk to your doctor – particularly if you already know you have issues with latex.
Latex allergy can be dangerous so you do need to seek advice if you’re getting this odd reaction.
If you also get strange symptoms with banana, kiwi fruit and chestnuts then you definitely need to get this checked out.
How to Release Bloating from Avocadoes
Generally, if you’re getting gassy from avocadoes, then, you just need to let nature take its course – you will expel the gas naturally over the next few hours.
However, if for some reason you need to move things along, then try some gentle exercise like cycling which helps promote the release of gas.
Lying in the yoga ‘rest’ pose can also help things move along.
Drink peppermint tea or taking peppermint oil capsules can also help as peppermint helps relax the muscles of the gut helping to release gas.
One thing that won’t work is taking a supplement like Beano – that works by providing the enzyme you need to digest beans and pulses – it won’t work to stop bloat from avocado.
If you need any more ideas, or more details on any of the above, you’ll find some suggestions in our piece on how to release bloating.
If you’re getting bloating regularly and it doesn’t go away after a few hours – and/or it comes with other symptoms like abdominal pain, upset stomach, loss of appetite and weight loss, please go and see your doctor just to double check its not something else causing the issues.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.