NEW YORK (CBS) – Call it a spare tire, a pot belly or just middle-aged spread. Dreaded belly fat plagues millions of men and women. It’s unsightly and dangerous to your health.
But what if you could flatten your stomach by eating?
As WCBS-TV in New York’s Kristine Johnson reported, there are some foods that can help you minimize your middle.
Mary Morin told Johnson she lost 20 pounds but still works hard to improve her abs.
“I try to do sit-ups and crunches, things like that just to try to firm it up. But it’s hard,” Morin said.
“If I had to guess, I’d say 90 percent of women complain about that area,” personal trainer Jayne Drew said.
Alexa Moulder, 39, said it’s especially difficult after becoming a mom.
“Bathing suit season is upon us. A lot of us are concerned about that. It’s a tough area to fix,” Moulder said.
Exercising can help, but nutritionist Nicolette Pace said you can whittle your middle by eating the right foods.
“You’ll get flavor. You’ll get freshness. You’ll get vitamins. You’ll get everything you need to help bust that belly fat,” Pace said.
Pace said choose leafy greens and high-fiber veggies, like celery, fennel and artichokes. They can help detox your digestive system and flatten you out.
“All of these plants … all of this produce has within it special chemicals that are a powerhouse of what we need to help right the body, put it on the right course and provide a natural detoxification,” Pace said.
Citrus fruits, especially lemons and grapefruits, are a superfood for weight loss. They’re high in fiber and contain compounds that can trim your middle.
“It’s the flushing, the fibers and the chemicals, each of them has some level of plant or phyto-chemical within it that gives it an extra edge,” Pace said.
Yogurt and fermented dairy products with probiotics, like kefir, help regulate the digestive system to flatten your belly. The experts said look for active cultures on the label. Pace also recommends soy products like tofu and teas brewed the old-fashioned way. She said she especially likes green tea, white tea and oolong tea.
“It actually does curb appetite. The chemicals within the teas also are encouraging either fat burning or improvements in the fat metabolism,” Pace said.
Aromatic herbs, like sage, thyme, ginger and garlic, are other belly busters, Pace said.
“Each of them not only produces a lot of flavor, but is also containing these plant chemicals that have been found to improve fat metabolism,” Pace said.
But while these foods may flush you out, Dr. Lisa Ganjhu said your fat cells are here to stay.
“You may lose weight in your belly, but for the most part it’s hard again to just target to that one area unless you get liposuction, where they literally remove all those fat cells. That’s the only way you actually lose the fat cells,” Dr. Ganjhu said.
Experts said belly fat increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and even certain cancers.