By Lesley Rotchford
You’ve probably heard there are certain flat-belly foods that can not only help you lose weight but also specifically zap abdominal fat (like these foods for flat abs). And, chances are, you’ve already eaten your way through that list of salmon, leafy green veggies, avocado, dairy, and nuts in your quest to keep it tight. Now the latest research is adding some who-knew superfoods to your repertoire. They’ll satisfy your carb and dessert cravings and turn on your taste buds too.
Women in a Brazilian study who took coconut oil supplements during a 12-week diet shrunk their waistlines, while other dieters did not. Why? Coconut oil contains a type of saturated fatty acid, called lauric acid, that your body burns quickly to produce energy, which means that its calories may get melted off before they’re parked as fat. And you don’t have to take it in pill form; sub refined coconut oil for vegetable oil in recipes. (Here’s everything else you need to know about coconut oil.)
Red of purple produce
New research in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who ate a diet rich in red- and purple-hued produce, such as grapes, tomatoes, eggplant, and cabbage, gained less ab fat over three years than people who munched on green, white, yellow, or orange fruits and veggies. Some studies suggest the flavonoids in certain produce may inhibit fat absorption or affect calorie burning.
When Korean researchers gave overweight women 30 milliliters (about 1 ounce) of pomegranate vinegar daily for eight weeks, the women’s belly fat was reduced by 3.7 percent (the control group didn’t shed any ab flab). “All types of vinegar contain acetic acid, which is believed to both interfere with the digestion of starch and stimulate an enzyme that contributes to fat burning,” says Carol Johnston, Ph.D., R.D.N., of Arizona State University. Drizzle vinegar over your salad to net its effects. (Did youknow coconut vinegaris also a thing?)
People who ate three or more servings a day of whole grains had 10 percent less ab fat than those who ate less than a half serving a day, a study at Tufts University found. “The reason could be that whole grains affect appetite-controlling hormones that promote satiety, or that the fiber in the grains stimulates hormones that discourage abdominal fat storage,” says lead author Nicola McKeown, Ph.D. But there’s a catch: Those who also chowed down on refined grains (you know, the white ones) did not have less belly fat. Swap refined grains for whole ones like brown rice or farro, McKeown suggests. (If you’re basically OD-ing on brown rice, try swapping in theseother healthy grains.)
For every 10 grams of fiber that you consume daily, you slash your rate of gaining belly fat by almost 4 percent, according to a study in the journal Obesity. And the best fiber-packed powerhouses, researchers say, are beans, especially lentils, black beans, and lima beans, which each have seven to eight grams of fiber per half cup. “Also go for navy beans or light red kidney beans, which both contain four to five grams of fiber per cup,” suggests lead study author Kristen G. Hairston, M.D. (Turn a single can of beans into a meal with these healthy recipes.)
Chia seeds not only pack protein and fiber, but “they also contain an essential fatty acid called ALA, which helps move fat away from vital organs that are located in the abdominal area,” says Lindsay Brown, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, who has studied chia’s stomach-flattening effects. Toss a teaspoon into your smoothie, top your Greek yogurt with them, or create a pudding by placing one tablespoon in a half cup of almond milk (the seeds absorb the liquid and expand) with a pinch of cinnamon and a bit of honey. (Brush up on more facts about chia seeds you need to know!)
There’s another belly-fat blaster sitting in your spice rack: cinnamon. Japanese scientists put mice on high-fat, high-sugar diets and spiked one group’s meals with cinnamaldehyde, the essential oil that gives cinnamon its warm scent and flavor. The mice that were fed the cinnamon component wound up with less abdominal fat after one month, and the experts believe that is because this active ingredient can help burn fatty tissue. “Try sprinkling one teaspoon of cinnamon a day into foods such as oatmeal, ricotta cheese, Greek yogurt, and coffee,” says nutritionist Keri Gans, R.D.N., the author of The Small Change Diet.
This exotic orange-yellow spice is best known for giving curry its kick. But start thinking of it as a belt-tightener: It contains a molecule that can help cells pull sugar out of the bloodstream and burn it as energy instead of storing it as fat in the abdomen, according to a study in the journal Food & Function. Nutritionist Brooke Alpert, R.D.N., the founder of B Nutritious, recommends a teaspoon of turmeric a day. “You can add it to soup, Greek yogurt, green smoothies, sautéed vege- tables, or eggs, and even sprinkle a little into your tea,” she says. Don’t worry, it’s not going to give everything an Indian flare. “In small amounts, turmeric has little taste, so you won’t notice it, especially if the food you’re adding it to has a lot of flavor.” (P.S. There are even more health benefits of turmeric.)
Chocolate contains flavonoids, as well as other fat zappers, which is why Spanish researchers who recently scrutinized the diets of 1,458 teenagers found that those who ate more chocolate had smaller waists. “We didn’t look at the type of chocolate, but 70 percent cacao dark chocolate contains a high concentration of catechins, a type of flavonoid that influences insulin sensitivity and the production of cortisol [a stress hormone that can
cause the body to store fat in the abdomen],” says study author Magdalena Cuenca-García, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Granada School of Medicine in Spain. Try eating a single one-ounce serving of 70 percent cacao a day instead of your usual sweet treat, recommends Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D.N., the founder of F-Factor Nutrition. (Dark chocolate could even give you an edge at the gym!)
Source: Shape Magazine | not affiliated with Aetrex Worldwide