Heart-healthy diet best option for cutting down on belly fat
A larger waist circumference increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
If you wish to get rid of that belly fat then listen up. Following a heart-healthy diet – high in fiber and low in saturated fats – to cut abdominal obesity is the way out, suggests a study.
“There is still no miracle diet, food, nutrient or bioactive component that will target abdominal fat,” wrote Kari D. Pilolla. But a heart-healthy diet is a great way to prevent and reduce abdominal obesity.
Amid the ongoing obesity epidemic, there is increasing attention to the health risks associated with abdominal obesity – excess fat stored around the abdomen.
“Independent of body weight, a larger waist circumference increases risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome,” Dr. Pilolla wrote. These risks are mainly related to visceral adipose tissue – fat stored below the abdominal muscles, surrounding the major internal organs. Visceral adipose tissue appears to be more “metabolically active” than subcutaneous fat, stored under the skin but above the abdominal muscles.
While definitions vary, abdominal obesity has been defined as a waist circumference of about 34 inches in women and 40 inches in men. Measuring waist circumference is the most common and convenient method of assessing abdominal obesity, and it corresponds well to other techniques (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and CT/MRI scans). Risk of abdominal obesity increases with age, especially in women, and with changes in hormone levels.
Can diet help to fight abdominal obesity? These days, the Internet is full of extravagant claims of “new discoveries” to “cure belly fat.” Diets touted as reducing abdominal obesity include intermittent fasting, high-protein diets, the “Paleo” diet, and green tea, among many others. But there’s a lack of high-quality evidence on these trending diets, none of which has been shown more effective than other types of energy-restricted (reduced-calorie) diets.
The good news is, some diet characteristics appear helpful in reducing or preventing abdominal obesity – particularly lower intake of trans and saturated fats and higher intake of fiber.
The study has been published in ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.