11 Foods (and One Trick) to Fight Belly Fat

How to reduce your menopot.

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1. Sour cherries

When University of Michigan researchers fed tart cherry powder to rats as a tiny portion of their diet, the animals lost 17 percent of their belly fat in just three months. Another trial with crushed blueberries also reduced fat. "There may be components in certain fruits, particularly anthocyanins-the antioxidants that create their dark colors-that have a protective effect," explains Steven Bolling, MD, director of the University of Michigan’s Cardioprotection Research Laboratory.
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2. Avocados

The south-of-the-border staple provides high doses of monounsaturated fats, or MUFAs (as do nuts, olives and flaxseeds). "Eating MUFAs can help prevent the deposition of fat around your middle," says David Katz, MD, director of Yale’s Prevention Research Center. In Katz’s research, women who switched to a 1,600-calorie, high-MUFA diet shed a third of their belly fat in a month.
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3. Egg whites

They provide all the advantages of protein but with almost no added fat, filling you up, preserving muscle tissue and requiring more calories to digest than simple carbs and fats. In recent studies, people who increased their intake of healthy proteins to 25 to 30 percent of a sensible diet shed more belly fat and cut back on calories overall. Other good protein sources are fish, soy and whey protein. Also try lean cuts of pork, chicken and turkey.
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4. Green tea

Overweight and obese adults who sipped a sports drink with a high concentration of green tea extract every day and also followed a moderate exercise routine dropped 7.7 percent of their belly fat in three months, reports The Journal of Nutrition. By comparison, those who exercised the same amount and drank a regular sports drink lost just 0.3 percent of that fat. The assumption is that sipping regular green tea would have the same effect. While the exact mechanism is not yet known, green tea’s phytochemical compounds may speed up the body’s metabolic rate, trigger the release of fat and/or promote fat burning, speculates study coauthor Kevin C. Maki, PhD, chief science officer for Provident Clinical Research and Consulting, an independent clinical research site in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
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5. Whole grains

In a recent study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, obese adults who ate four to seven daily servings of whole grain foods as part of a healthy weight-loss diet lost twice as much abdominal fat as those eating the refined counterparts. "Whole grains may keep insulin levels lower, which can help burn abdominal fat," says lead author Heather Katcher, PhD, RD, research coordinator for the Washington Center for Clinical Research, in D.C. Try oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain pasta and whole wheat tortillas.
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6. Sleep

Wrestling with the covers in the middle of the night is often one of the first signs you’re entering perimenopause. Numerous studies suggest that poor sleep increases your levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and limits the level of leptin, the satiety hormone. Aim for at least 7.5 solid hours per night; consult your doctor if you’re having trouble sleeping.
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7. Vinegar

Got a few pounds to lose? Dress steamed veggies with vinegar to boost your body’s ability to burn fat, suggests a new study. For six weeks, Japanese researchers fed two groups of mice a high-fat diet, supplementing one group’s intake with a daily dose of the main chemical in vinegar. Those who consumed the acetic acid developed less body fat than the ones who didn’t ingest it. In a follow up-study, people who downed three tablespoons of vinegar diluted into two cups of water daily experienced similar results after 12 weeks.
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8. Hot Tomatoes

Research published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that people who ate higher amounts of carotenoids, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lycopene had smaller waists as well as less visceral and subcutaneous fat. Tomatoes contain all of these antioxidants, and they become particularly potent when cooked. A recent study concludes that heating tomatoes spikes lycopene content and makes it easier for the body to absorb the nutrient. Tip: "To assure optimal flavor, texture, and nutritional value when buying fresh tomatoes, select those that have never been refrigerated and wait until they’re fully ripe before cooking them," says Jackie Newgent, RD, author of Big Green Cookbook.
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9. Sun-Bella Mushrooms

Mushrooms are the only plant-based food that naturally contains vitamin D. But what is now sending their "sunshine vitamin" quotient into the stratosphere is a new and unique kind of processing: Once harvested, Sun-Bella mushrooms are exposed to ultraviolet light. The net result is that a three-ounce serving of this new but widely available brand supplies 100 percent of your daily value of D. Why does this matter? Insufficient levels of D have been linked with obesity and abdominal fat, notes Dave Grotto, RD, author of 101 Optimal Life Foods.
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10. 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 conducted in Japan discovered 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. Additionally, raspberries are high in fiber (eight grams per cup).
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11. 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 ingredient may be a boon to women trying to lose their belly fat. 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. Also, in a recent study out of Brazil, coconut oil eaters were shown to have a higher level of "good" HDL, which helps clear cholesterol deposits from arteries.
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12. Alaska Pollock

This affordable, readily available white fish is similar to cod. In Japan, scientists studied the effects of various proteins on belly fat accumulation by feeding rats high-fat diets that contained either casein (milk protein), Alaska pollock, yellowfin tuna or chicken. Scientists don’t know why, but Alaska pollock was a more potent inhibitor of visceral fat accumulation than the other protein types. More points in favor of this Pacific catch: It is not being overfished, and it’s low in mercury.


Next: 42 Belly Busters That Really Work


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First Published Thu, 2009-08-13 15:35

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