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The 8 foods you should eat to help reduce belly fat

Struggling with stubborn fat around your stomach area? Cutting belly fat entails a combination of staying physically active and making healthy lifestyle choices, including the foods you eat.

Dr. Brett Simenhoff is a board-certified general surgeon and specialist in minimally invasive bariatric surgery at the New York Bariatric Group. He told Newsweek: “While there are no specific ‘magic’ foods that can target belly fat, certain food groups can contribute to reducing belly fat. Incorporating certain food groups into your diet can help support weight loss and promote a healthier body composition.”

Too much fat around the belly can have some serious health consequences, such as a higher risk of early death, according to a study published in September 2020 in The BMJ. The study found that excess belly fat is “significantly associated” with an increased risk of premature death from any cause.

Foods To Eat To Help Belly Fat Loss

Stewart Parnacott is a certified registered nurse anesthetist and a certified personal trainer with expertise in weight loss. He told Newsweek that a focus on “whole, nutrient-dense foods,” alongside regular physical activity, is the key to achieving lasting results. “Each person’s response to dietary changes can vary, so it’s essential to be patient and consistent,” he added.

Both Simenhoff and Parnacott advised always consulting with a healthcare professional to create a personalized plan that’s sustainable for your individual health status, needs and goals.

Whole Grains

Simenhoff said whole grains are excellent for reducing weight because of the high fiber content, which slows the rate of digestion.

“This provides a more natural way for our bodies to process the food and allows for a slower increase in blood sugar, leading to a longer period of satiety and less snacking between meals,” the surgeon explained.

Simenhoff warned that processed grains, such as white bread and processed breakfast cereals, are stripped of many of their important components. “The term ‘multi-grain’ simply means many grains, so it is important to check whether or not they are also whole grains,” he advised.

Avocados

Parnacott said avocados make “an excellent addition to your belly-fat-busting menu.”

Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to reducing belly fat and improving overall health. They’re also very satisfying, packed with fiber and various essential nutrients.

Aim to have half an avocado a day as part of your meals or as a guacamole dip, he suggested.

Avocado halves on a table.
A stock image of avocado halves on a table. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to reducing belly fat and improving overall health.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

Olive Oil

Simenhoff suggested sticking to foods that contain olive oil instead of seed oils. “Olive oil is rich in healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and omega-3 fats, which lower cholesterol and improve our heart health,” he said.

The antioxidants in olive oil, such as Vitamin E and polyphenolic acid, are powerful for reducing inflammation and metabolic stress within the body and may potentially contribute to weight loss, he noted.

Unlike olive oil, many seed oils (such as canola, cottonseed and sunflower oil) are highly processed and contain a greater proportion of pro-inflammatory fats and far fewer antioxidant molecules, the surgeon added.

Olive oil being poured into bowl.
A stock image of olive oil being poured into a bowl on a table. The antioxidants in olive oil, such as Vitamin E and polyphenolic acid, are powerful for reducing inflammation.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

Berries

Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, are low in calories and also high in antioxidants and fiber, Parnacott noted.

Berries can “help control hunger, stabilize blood sugar levels, and reduce cravings, making them a great ally in the fight against belly fat,” he added.

Incorporate a variety of berries into your diet, having a handful as a snack or adding them in your smoothies or on top of yogurt.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is “a protein powerhouse” that can help support your journey to a slimmer waistline, said Parnacott. The high protein content helps boost metabolism, reduce appetite and preserve muscle mass during weight loss.

Probiotics in Greek yogurt also contribute to a healthy gut, which plays a role in overall well-being. For optimal results, have a serving of Greek yogurt daily, whether as a snack, breakfast, or as a base for healthy sauces and dips, he said.

Berries in a bowl of Greek yogurt.
A stock image of berries in a bowl of Greek yogurt, which is “a protein powerhouse.”
iStock / Getty Images Plus

Sweet Potatoes

The low caloric density of sweet potatoes means that each bite contains fewer calories, which helps us remain full and prevents overeating, Simenhoff explained.

Sweet potatoes are also “chock-full of essential vitamins including beta carotene, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium.”

Being complex carbohydrates, sweet potatoes are digested at a slower rate, which “prevents spikes in blood sugar that are often seen when consuming simple carbohydrates,” the surgeon said.

“As a bonus, sweet potatoes are digested by the colon to create a healthy environment for gut bacteria, which is linked to overall health and the maintenance of a healthy body weight,” Simenhoff noted.

Sweet potatoes on wooden board.
A stock image of chunks and slices of sweet potatoes on a wooden board. The low caloric density of sweet potatoes means that each bite contains fewer calories, helping us to feel full and prevent overeating.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

Salmon

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is “a heart-healthy choice” that can also aid your efforts in trimming your waist, said Parnacott.

“Omega-3s have been associated with a reduction in inflammation and improved fat metabolism, which may positively impact belly fat loss,” he said.

Aim for two servings of salmon or other fatty fish per week as part of a balanced diet, he advised.

Grilled salmon in bowl of salad.
A stock image of grilled salmon in a bowl of salad. Salmon is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with a reduction in inflammation and improved fat metabolism.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

Green Tea

According to Parnacott, regularly sipping green tea may contribute to increased calorie burning and help promote a leaner midsection. “The catechins in green tea have been shown to aid in fat oxidation and metabolic enhancement.”

Aim to consume two to three cups of green tea per day for its potential benefits, he said.

A cup of green tea.
A cup of green tea. Regularly drinking green tea may contribute to increased calorie burning.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

Do you have any health and fitness tips to share? Let us know via life@newsweek.com and your story could be featured on Newsweek.

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