Sep. 12, 2013 at 5:27 PM ET
Fruits and herbs that help trim belly fat have a lot more benefits than just helping you look good. Not many people have perfect six-pack abs (but if you do, good on you!) but having an exceedingly expanded waistline can do more than keep you out of figure-hugging clothes, you could face serious health issues: Your risk increases up for high blood pressure and high cholesterol– major factors for heart disease—as well as type 2 diabetes and even some forms of cancer.
The truth is carrying excess belly-fat is related makes way for a condition called Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X, which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and fatty deposits in the liver. The good news is by shrinking your belly you can reverse the effects of Syndrome X and cut your risk of heart disease, diabetes, even Alzheimer’s disease in half with a few small tweaks to your lifestyle.
My top belly-fat blasters have actually been a part of a healthy lifestyle since the beginning of time, but you may not have thought of them to help slim your waistline.
Watermelon: A hydrating fruit rich in lycopene, it will increase your body’s arginine levels, an amino acid that ups the body’s fat-burning potential. At the same time the juicy red fruit helps the body burn fat, it also builds lean muscle. Just 1 cup a day does the trick.
Dill: Add this herb to veggies (especially cabbage), fish, casseroles, soups and stews, Dijon mustard or reduced-fat mayo to ease gas and bloating. You'll also get the added benefit of speeding up the breakdown of carbs and proteins in the gut.
Pineapple and Papaya: These two tropical fruits contain the enzyme bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties and shrinks belly fat. Many women know the disappointment of having a waistline that spills over the top of her waistband. But think of taking your first steps toward a slimmer middle this way—to change your waistline you have to first change your mind. Think differently about food and make food choices that work for you, rather than against you.
Mint: An herb, yes, but this one goes the extra belly-fat burning mile. Mint leaves trigger the release of extra bile from the gallbladder, which is important because it helps the body to digest fat. For a quick remedy to belly bloat (maybe you want to ease into that little form-fitting black dress?) add 10 crushed mint leaves to 2-4 cups of roasted dandelion tea every day and you could lose two or more pounds in 10-14 days.
Dandelion Root: I like roasted dandelion root tea to beat belly fat. The dandelion root increases liver function, which flushes toxins and excess water from the belly area and in turn gives you a flatter tummy. Just 2-4 cups a day does the trick.
Bottom line? Don’t beat yourself up about making a mistake—when you know better, you do better. This business of living a healthy lifestyle is a process. The truth is, each day you open your eyes you have the grace of another chance. I’m rootin’ for ya!
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A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.