Belly fat affects your physical appearance and poses harmful health risks. Visceral belly fat, the type that lies deep within your abdominal cavity, increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, according to “Harvard Women’s Health Watch.” While no foods actually banish belly fat, an overall healthy diet that emphasizes certain foods and minimizes others can increase your odds of reaching and maintaining abdominal trimness.
Your body digests whole grains slower than refined grains due to the higher amount of fiber contained in whole grains. This helps you feel full longer, eat less and keep your insulin levels low and steady. These benefits are believed to shrink belly fat cells, according to CBS News. A study published in "The Journal of Nutrition" in March 2009 found that increasing dietary fiber consumption helps decrease weight and fat gain. Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal and whole wheat bread, should make up at least half of your daily grain intake, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Avocados contain high amounts of monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that has several health benefits. Like whole grains, it reduces blood sugar and insulin spikes, which normally trigger your body to store excess abdominal fat. Avocados are also rich in satiating fiber.
Low-Fat Dairy Products
Dairy products such as low-fat yogurt and skim milk have an optimal combination of carbohydrates and protein to stabilize insulin levels. In addition, yogurt often contains probiotics that keep your digestive system healthy and decrease stomach bloating.
Similar to avocados, nuts contain high amounts of healthy unsaturated fats that may help control blood sugar levels. Certain nuts, such as almonds, contain significant amounts of magnesium, a mineral necessary for maintaining steady blood sugar levels. Snack on moderate amounts of nuts instead of candy or potato chips for added nutrients and appetite control between meals.
The vitamin C in citrus fruits, such as oranges, tangerines and grapefruits, may help you burn up to 30 percent more fat during exercise, according to CBS News, making these fruits good choices for a pre-workout snack. Citrus fruits also supply valuable amounts of water and fiber, which contribute no calories, yet help you stay satiated between meals.
Soybeans contain fiber, antioxidants and more protein than other vegetables. Snacking on soy products keeps you feeling satisfied longer while their nutrients control insulin and blood sugar levels. Soy products, such as steamed soybeans and tofu, provide lower-calorie, cholesterol-free alternatives to fatty meats.
The idea of consuming fatty fish to fight belly fat may seem counterintuitive. However, this type of fish, which includes salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel, contains healthy unsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids may help promote increased metabolism and fat burning, according to an article published in "Fitness Magazine" in June 2006. Omega-3s also reduce inflammation throughout your body.
Green tea contains antioxidants called catechins. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that these catechins in combination with the caffeine in green tea may stimulate your metabolism and increase fat burning, helping you lose weight. Green tea without sweeteners or cream contains only trace amounts of calories. Swapping out sugary soft drinks in your diet for iced or hot green tea can save you hundreds of calories.