You asked and we're here to answer: do avocados cause gas?
The short answer is Yes, they can.
Most people will have no problem eating the fruit, but why is it that some get overly gassy?
Avocados originated in Mesoamerica and were cultivated in the Mexico area as early as 500BC. They were introduced to the Spanish conquistadors by the Aztecs in the 16th century, in a form that the Aztecs called "ahuaca-molli"... which the Spanish then called guacamole and the rest is history... guacamole and avocados spread to Europe and later the rest of the world.
They are very high in "good", monounsaturated fat, are a great source of fiber, have more potassium than bananas, good protein amounts, and they have a creamy texture that nothing can compare to.
BUT... if they are going to cause uncontrollable bursts of flatulence, then are they really worth eating?
Well, in order to answer this question let's first go over 6 possible reasons that avocados are producing this effect...
6 Potential Reasons for Excessive Flatulence
#1) They Contain Sorbitol
Avocados contain what is called sorbitol, which is a polyol (aka sugar alcohol) that naturally occurs in a variety of fruits, such as apples, peaches, different types of berries... and it occurs unnaturally in many types of sugar-less chewing gum.
Sorbitol, unlike its classification of a "sugar alcohol", is neither a sugar nor an alcohol. It is a fermentable carb that is classified as a high FODMAP, meaning people with IBS should avoid it.
However, even if you don't have IBS, sorbitol can cause and upset stomach, cramps, bloating, gas, etc.
The reason behind this is because it isn't completely absorbed by the small intestine and continues into the large intestine where it is fermented by our gut bacteria, producing gas as a byproduct.
#2) They Are High In Fiber
Avocados are a great source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. The amount of each depends on they type of avocados that you buy. According to SFGate Healthy Eating, half of a California avocado has about 4.6 g of fiber, 63% being insoluble and 37% being soluble, while half of a Florida avocado (larger kind) has about 8.5 g of fiber, 82% of which is insoluble and only 18% soluble.
Fiber is great, and most of the US population needs more of it, but getting too much (some people experience negative effects after around 40 g per day) can come with downsides.
It is the soluble fiber in particular that is the problem here, because this type of fiber is considered "ferment-able" and is fermented by the bacteria in our guts, just as sorbitol is.
While avocados have significantly more insoluble fiber than soluble, the amount of soluble fiber that they provide is actually quite high compared to other foods.
*Note: This is also a big reason beans have such a gassy effect.
#3) They Have Potential to Cause Borborygmi
Now this is something that almost no one talks about, but very well could cause bloating and flatulence.
Borborygmi is the scientific term for stomach growling, which consist of the sounds made from gas as food moves through the intestines.
Avocados, because they digest rather slowly due to their density and high fat content, and because of their viscosity after being chewed, could have the potential to trap more air as they move through the digestive system... thus causing more sounds.
This, coupled with the fact that the sorbitol and soluble fiber they provide produces gas, could exacerbate the problem or air being trapped in the intestines and causing gassy-ness.
#4) You May Be Allergic
Another potential cause of excessive gas and digestion issues could be an allergic reaction, in which excess gas wouldn't be much of a concern.
According to BetterHealth Channel, about half of people that have latex allergies also are allergic to avocados. This is because the same proteins are present in both.
#5) It Could Be a Histamine Intolerance
An intolerance to histamine also produces symptoms similar to that of allergic reactions, which include everything from hives to digestive issues (like excessive gas).
Histamine is a chemical that communicates messages to the brain, aids in digestion by helping control stomach acid release, and is released after injury or allergic reaction.
An intolerance to histamine can occur when levels get too high. The body produces its own histamine but we also get this chemical from the foods we eat, and avocados are considered high in it.
#6) Maybe They Weren't Quite Ripe Enough
There is an old Spanish saying, "aguacates duros, flatulencia seguros", which roughly translates to "hard avocados, gas surely".
It doesn't rhyme so well in English, but the point it makes is translatable.
The harder the avocado (less ripe), the more likely it is to cause flatulence.
When avocados aren't ripe, still hard, they are more difficult for the body to digest. The starches they contain still haven't fully broken down into simple sugars, complex enzymes have yet to denature, and so on... making more than one reason they could lead to gas.
Gas Leak Solutions
What if you can't control yourself when it comes to a fresh bowl of guacamole? Is there any hope?
This would all depend on the reason behind the gas. If highly allergic then even the slightest amount could trigger symptoms... but then again, if you are only worried about the gas that avocados are causing then you likely aren't highly allergic.
If it's excess fiber that is the cause then you could simply consume less fiber in other parts of your diet, such as by eating these "diarrhea friendly" low-fiber foods, if you still want to continue to eat your avocados. And if you've just got a bad case of borborygmi then simply drinking more water as you eat can help.
The easiest solution, and what works pretty much no matter what the reason behind the excessive flatulence, is to simply consume less.
Or you could stop eating the same avocados
Avocados originated in southern Mexico long before the Spanish arrived, but today the biggest commercial exports come from north of the border, from California and Florida in the USA.
As briefly mentioned earlier, the avocados from California differ a good bit from the Floridian avocados... so you may want to try switching varieties and see how that works.
And if it is guacamole that you have been getting gassy from, then it may also be worth trying a different product. It could be other ingredients in the mix and not the avocado that is the problem.
To Eat or Not to Eat?
Unless eating avocados presents a serious gas problem, such as that which may stem from an allergic reaction, it might be worth it to put up with the increased gassy-ness for the sake of good nutrition.
Avocados are a very well-rounded fruit, nutritionally speaking, with the nutrition facts for a 136 g California avocado being:
- 9.2 g dietary fiber
- 2.7 g protein
- 13.3 g monounsaturated fat ("good fat")
- 150 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids
- 2,298 mg of Omega-6 fatty acids
- 20% DV of vitamin C
- 13% DV of vitamin E
- 36% DV of vitamin K
- 30% DV of folate
- 20% DV of vitamin B6
- 20% DV of potassium (689 mg)
- 10% DV of magnesium (39.4 mg)
... just to name a few.
So you decide... is the gas worth it?
Now it's your turn: What has your experience been like eating avocados?