Eating soluble fibres — like those in fruits, beans and vegetables — reduces belly fat, research finds.
Two small apples, a cup of green beans and half a cup of pinto beans each day would hit the 10 gram (0.3 ounce) target for fibre.
Along with exercise, consuming more soluble fibers helps reduce visceral fat, researchers found.
Visceral fat is the fat deep in the belly that surrounds the vital organs.
Dr Kristen Hairston, the study’s first author, explained visceral fat is particularly damaging to health:
“We know that a higher rate of visceral fat is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and fatty liver disease.
Our study found that making a few simple changes can have a big health impact.”
The study included 1,114 people who were followed over five years.
The results showed that increasing daily soluble fibre intake by 10 grams decreased visceral fat by 3.7 per cent over the five years.
Moderate physical activity on top of this increased this figure to a 7.4 per cent reduction.
Dr Hairston said:
“There is mounting evidence that eating more soluble fiber and increasing exercise reduces visceral or belly fat, although we still don’t know how it works.
Although the fiber-obesity relationship has been extensively studied, the relationship between fiber and specific fat deposits has not.
Our study is valuable because it provides specific information on how dietary fiber, especially soluble fiber, may affect weight accumulation through abdominal fat deposits.”
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The study was published in the journal Obesity (Hairston et al., 2011).