Belly-Flattening Foods

Feed your belly flatter

by Cynthia Sass, RD
3 oz-mushrooms equals 100 percent daily Vitamin D.
Photograph: Photo by Ditte Isager

Use it: Swap chopped mushrooms for ground beef on taco night or use two grilled Portabella mushrooms as a “bun” for a turkey burger. Better yet, make it your burger substitute. Trading a 4-ounce Portabella mushroom for 3 ounces of 93 percent lean ground turkey once a week, without making any other changes, would save 6,136 calories and 104 grams of artery clogging fat per year. “Portabellas have the highest level of ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant unique to fungi that provides protection against the free radical damage that can contribute to aging and heart disease,” says Grotto. For a vitamin D boost, look for Sun-Bella, one brand that pre-treats mushrooms to a healthy dose of the sun’s rays.

 

3. Fiber-Packed Raspberries Raspberries clock in with about 50 percent higher antioxidant activity than strawberries; preliminary evidence suggests that one of the antioxidants, known as raspberry ketone, could be a belly buster. A study on animals at Ehime University School of Medicine, in Japan, found that raspberry ketones, which are responsible for the berries’ aroma, prevented an increase in overall body and visceral fat when the animals were overfed. Bonus: “Anthocyanins, another antioxidant in raspberries, are believed to reduce blood sugar after starchy meals, which may help control appetite,” Grotto says. Additionally, raspberries are high in fiber: They contain eight grams per cup. Previous research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that for every gram of fiber we eat, we eliminate approximately seven calories.

 

Use it: Warm unsweetened, frozen berries in the microwave and sprinkle in cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Spoon the sauce over a whole grain waffle in place of syrup and garnish with pistachios, or swirl warmed raspberries into cooked oats along with slivered almonds. For a portable snack, try organic freeze dried versions available at Whole Foods or http://www.justtomatoes.com. Toss them in a baggie with dry cereal and unsalted nuts, fold them into yogurt, or add them to muffin or brownie batter. “Fresh, dried or frozen, the nutrition content is practically the same, which means you can enjoy them all year long,” says Grotto. His favorite tip: let frozen raspberries stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes to thaw, then eat them straight from the bag.  

 

4. Comeback Kid: Coconut Oil For the past decade or so, this oil has been unpopular because of its high saturated fat content. But new research says this much-maligned ingredient may be a boon to women trying to lose their belly fat. In Brazil, a recent study of women who ate a balanced diet and walked for 50 minutes a day showed that body mass index decreased in those who ate soybean oil and those who ate coconut oil, but only the latter group had a decrease in waist circumference. Coconut oil eaters also had a higher level of “good” HDL, which helps clear cholesterol deposits from arteries, and lower LDL to HDL ratios. In another study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, medium chain fatty acids, the type found in coconut oil, reduced body weight, body fat, waist circumference and visceral fat in women who had high triglycerides. “Saturated fats from animal sources such as whole-milk cheese and fatty meats tend to promote blocked, hardened arteries, but the saturated fats in coconut and other vegetable oils, which have another chemical struc-ture, do not. It’s this chemical structure that may account for the different effects on the body,” Gerbstadt says

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