Want to shed the nice, little muffin top you've developed during this never-ending winter? It may be time to start paying attention to what kind of fat is in your food, not just how much there is.
According to a three-year study by scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden, eating saturated fat commonly found in foods like meats and dairy products can cause fat to accumulate in the liver and around the abdomen – giving you that extra bulk around your midsection. Eating polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, in foods like fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils lowers overall fat levels in the body and helps increase muscle mass. (Find a list of these healthy fats here.)
"This study provides even more evidence for the importance of incorporating more healthy fats in the diet," said Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D., the wellness manager at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute and YouBeauty's nutrition expert. "Replacing unhealthy fats, such as saturated and trans fat with healthier options, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, may be one further step towards decreasing our obesity and chronic disease risk."
Previous research has shown that people with more fat around their midsections have a higher risk of developing diabetes than those whose extra weight is distributed throughout their bodies. Cutting back on saturated fats and incorporating more polyunsaturated fats into your diet, therefore, could help reduce this risk, the researchers argue. Because polyunsaturated fats were also found to help increase muscle mass in the study, they could be used to help the elderly and others maintain their strength and stay healthy.
In the short term, making the switch might just help you get back into bikini shape for spring.