Eating more beans, vegetables and fruit can help to reduce belly fat, research finds.
Belly fat is the fat that surrounds the vital organs, deep in the belly.
High levels of belly fat are linked to fatty diabetes, liver disease and high blood pressure.
Soluble fibre, such as that in fruit and vegetables, turn to a gel during digestion.
This helps people feel more full and may also lower blood sugar levels and help bowel movements.
As little as half a cup of pinto beans, a couple of apples and a cup of green beans each day would be enough to meet the target.
Other foods high in soluble fibre include:
- Sweet potatoes
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.”
For the study, the progress of 1,114 people was tracked over 5 years.
It emerged that those who increased their soluble fibre intake by 10 grams per day lost 3.7 percent of their belly fat.
Adding some moderate physical activity increased this figure to 7.4 percent.
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.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Obesity (Hairston et al., 2011).