Do Avocados Cause Constipation?
One of the top Googled questions on avocados is “Do avocados cause constipation?” We’re not quite sure when and how this avocado myth got started, but we’re here to clear the air on avocados and constipation.
Avocados are as nutritious as they are delicious and are beloved by many. But if there’s any chance that the mighty avocado might back up the bowels, that could be a deal-breaker.
First, what is constipation?
Constipation is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder, with a prevalence in the general population of nearly 20%—and an even greater prevalence in older adults.
Constipation is a condition in which a person has uncomfortable or infrequent bowel movements. Generally, constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week, and involves passing stool that is often hard and dry.
Do avocados cause constipation?
The risk of constipation is affected by genetic predisposition and lifestyle and dietary factors, including inadequate fluid intake and low fiber intake. So, yes, what you eat (and don’t eat) can certainly influence your bowel movements (and lack thereof).
That said, it’s unlikely that avocados are the culprit in your constipation woes. Although they may not look it, avocados are a great source of fiber, providing 3 g of fiber per serving (50 grams or a third of a medium avocado) or 10 grams per whole, medium avocado.
And research suggests avocado consumers have higher fiber intakes than nonconsumers. An analysis of the 2001–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data comparing avocado consumers (average consumption of a little more than half of a medium Hass Avocado per day) to non-consumers found that avocado consumers had higher intakes of dietary fiber—averaging about 36% more fiber than non-consumers.
Can too much fiber cause constipation in some individuals? Yes, but this is usually a case of adding too much fiber to a low-fiber diet, too fast.
The short answer to the question “do avocados cause constipation?” is: probably not.
Do avocados cause constipation in babies?
Avocados do not normally cause constipation in babies, and may help relieve constipation.
Avocados are unique among complementary and transitional foods for babies in that they contain more total fiber and soluble fiber per gram than most other complementary and transitional foods, while at the same time containing less mineral-binding compounds than other popular high-fiber foods.
Avocado can be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally at around 6 months of age.
Avocados and IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder with symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel movements, which may include constipation, diarrhea, or both.
If you’re currently struggling with or have struggled with IBS, then you’re likely familiar with the acronym FODMAP—which represents a group of problematic carbohydrates for some individuals with IBS. Many foods contain FODMAPs, including avocados, which are ranked as low, moderate, or high in FODMAPs depending on the serving size.
Avocados shouldn’t cause digestive issues, including constipation, in individuals with IBS who are limiting FODMAPs provided they stick with a smaller serving size at meals. A low FODMAP diet can include 1/8 of a medium avocado per meal.
So, is avocado good for constipation then?
If avocado is unlikely to cause constipation, then is avocado good for constipation?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, constipation can often be treated through dietary and lifestyle modifications. One of the main diet modifications to help treat constipation is to ensure adequate fiber intake.
Fiber intake recommendations from the Institute of Medicine for women and men are 25 and 38 grams per day, respectively. (These numbers fall to 21 and 30 grams per day for those over the age of fifty.) The average intake in the United States is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 grams per day—meaning, most people need to double their daily fiber intake.
The fiber in avocados is mostly insoluble—with a ratio of approximately 65% insoluble to 35% soluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel beloved by substances like cholesterol, whereas insoluble fiber can’t absorb water and instead acts as nature’s broom, helping move things along and increasing stool bulk. Both fiber types play a role in supporting bowel health and keeping you regular.
Avocados also contain the mineral magnesium, with one avocado providing 10% of the daily value. Magnesium has a laxative effect that appears to come through two different mechanisms. Magnesium relaxes the muscles within your digestive tract and draws water into the intestines, helping to soften the stool and stimulate bowel motion.
Including avocado in the diet is unlikely to cause constipation in most people. On the contrary, fiber-rich foods like avocados may help prevent constipation.
If you’ve ever wondered if the high fat and calorie content of avocados is bad for your waistline, be sure to check out our latest avocado-themed article: Are Avocados Fattening & Bad for Weight Loss?