For many women I know, if they were given one wish, it would be a toss up between shedding belly fat or achieving lasting world peace. Ok, so they’d likely go with world peace, but not after a protracted mental exercise where they yearned (at least for a moment) for that flatter belly they had back in their teens or twenties.
But if you’ve had children, are creeping into middle age, or have even just indulged in too much wine and cheese lately, chances are you have a few more “wobbly bits” around your middle than you’d like. And while you may yearn to banish belly fat because of how you look, your doctor likely has an additional motive for encouraging you: Excess abdominal fat is associated with several health risks, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and low-grade inflammation.
In addition to a diet loaded with fruits and vegetables and whole, minimally processed foods that look like they do in nature, try these three belly-blasting superfoods to help you shed excess pounds around your middle.
Belly Blaster #1: Goldenberry
Why it’s a superfood: This little-known succulent, bright yellow fruit is native to the South American tropics and is rich in B complex vitamins that play an important role in maximizing your body’s fat-burning abilities. For a little berry, it packs a burst of sweet/tart taste similar to a candied lemon; when dried it’s a bit bigger than a plump raisin – and makes a delicious alternative.
Dr. Oz’s Prescription: One-quarter cup dry or one-half cup fresh counts as a serving of fruit. It’s delicious in smoothies, salads, or paired with creamy avocado (rich in monounsaturated fats, which also has been linked to shedding belly fat) as a snack.
Belly Blaster #2: Miso
Why it’s a superfood: A traditional food of fermented soybeans which hails from Japan, authentic miso is brimming with good-for-your-belly probiotics, which help keep our gut flora healthy. Dr. Oz also recently discussed how this Japanese food lowers triglycerides, the fat in your blood that contributes to belly fat.
Dr. Oz’s Prescription: Pick up instant miso soup mix in the supermarket, but look for low-sodium varieties. Alternately, look for traditional red or white miso (sold as a paste) in the refrigerated natural food section of your grocery store. It makes simple but satisfying soup (simply add hot water), or an absolutely delicious marinade for fish.
Belly Blaster #3: Sauerkraut
Why it’s a superfood: Directly translated from German as “sour cabbage,” this traditional fermented food delivers gut-friendly flora that boost digestion and can reduce belly inflammation. Sauerkraut’s signature sour taste comes as the added bacteria ferment the naturally occurring sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid; it should keep for months.
Dr. Oz’s Prescription: Check the label carefully and buy only traditional fermented sauerkraut and not one of the more commercially heat-treated brands (which many are), as that will destroy the beneficial bacteria. Top your next turkey sandwich with a half-cup for a zingy, nutrient-packed punch.
Want to Shed Even More Pounds? Incorporate These Proven Metabolism Boosters
Fire Up Your Metabolism at Breakfast
The research is consistent on this one; in study after study, it seems breakfast eaters have lower BMIs than people who skip the first meal of the day. Start off on a powerful path to health by making a point to eat breakfast daily. A quick smoothie with frozen mango, banana, hemp seeds or flax oil, greek yogurt and coconut water could do the trick, or try oatmeal topped with pumpkin seeds, dried tart cherries and a splash of almond milk for a heartier option at home.
Fall in Love With Whole Grains Every Time
Whole grains have long been linked to lower rates of heart disease and diabetes. According to a recent study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they may actually selectively target belly fat too: On a calorie-controlled diet, subjects whose grains were all whole grains (instead of all refined grains) lost specifically more belly fat than subjects who consumed all refined grains. Also worth noting: Subjects who stuck to whole grains experienced a stunning 38% drop in C-reactive protein (CRP), a measure of inflammation in the body. Whole grains positively influence the body’s glucose and insulin response; refined grains, in contrast, trigger a cascade of metabolic changes that not only encourage you to eat again sooner, but trigger inflammation and might store more visceral fat.
Join the Resistance Movement
Did you know that your lean muscle tissue is one of your body’s most metabolically active tissues, especially as compared to fat? Resistance training, also called strength training, is the key to preserving and building lean muscle tissue that acts as your body’s natural metabolic furnace, keeping your metabolism revved up (not to mention your strength, balance and tone).
Beginning after age 35, our bodies lose roughly 5% of our lean muscle mass per decade (and once we reach our 50s, it’s as high as 1-2% per year). While you want to be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen, for optimum results, experts recommend you aim for twice a week, 8-12 repetitions of resistance exercises that target each major muscle group.