Belly fat can hang over your waistband and give you the "muffin" top effect when you put on your favorite pair of pants. A widening waistline isn’t just unsightly, however -- it can also increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancers. Although fighting fat by eating fat sounds counter-productive, a Mediterranean-style diet full of good-for-you fats, such as olive oil and nuts, can decrease your risk of heart disease and help you fight belly bulge.
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To lose belly fat, Fitness magazine recommends getting 25 to 30 percent of your daily calories from fat – especially monounsaturated fats, such as canola oils, almonds, cashews, peanuts, olive oils and olives, avocados, sesame seeds and peanut butter. This strategy, along with a healthful diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins, and regular exercise can help you reduce belly fat.
In addition to their fat-burning benefits, monounsaturated fats improve your absorption of Vitamins A, D and E and play a critical role in keeping your nervous system healthy. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, they also improve blood circulation levels, stabilize heart rhythms and lower blood pressure.
Eating every three hours – and including a small portion of healthy fats with every meal – can help you satisfy the “fat tooth” that Fitness magazine suggests might be the culprit behind some people's weight gain. Instead of snacking on fatty treats such as ice cream, chocolate and potato chips, include 1 oz. of almonds, ¼ cup chopped walnuts, ¼ California avocado or 1 tbsp. of olive oil in your meals and snacks.
Simply adding a few olives and nuts to a high-calorie diet filled with fatty meats and cheeses, fried foods and other unhealthy fare will not help you lose weight. To lose weight, you will need to replace bad fats, such as trans fats found in fried foods and saturated fats from red meat and full-fat dairy, with healthy monounsaturated fats. MayoClinic.com suggests that belly fat responds well to these types of dietary changes, especially if used in conjunction with a regular exercise plan.
Although a quick fix for weight loss sounds appealing, Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D of MayoClinic.com explains that no high-quality scientific research proves that diets based on the consumption of monounsaturated fats, such as “The Flat Belly Diet,” work any better than other well-balanced, calorie-restricted diets. Heart-healthy fats, such as olives and nuts, can be a healthy part of your diet plan, but you also need to watch your overall consumption of calories and include exercise in the mix.