I spend hours in supermarkets. As a registered dietitian, Prevention's Grocery Guru, and coauthor of "Flat Belly Diet!", it's my job to wade through the 20,000-plus new foods and drinks that hit the shelves each year. Here are my new favorites.
These items are quick, healthy, easy and delicious. Plus, they're all belly flattening! That means they either provide 200 calories or less per serving to help you lose weight, or they're chock-full of one or both of these belly-fat-attacking nutrients: MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids) and whole grains.
Several studies reveal that a diet rich in MUFAs may help reduce belly fat and increase fat burning in people with larger waistlines. And, a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that whole grains may help you lose twice as much belly fat.
These foods are more than weight loss aids — they can help you meet your health goals. And rest assured, they're not "processed," even if they do come in packages. Happy shopping!
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Symbols of Health
None of the foods contains trans fat; artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners; or preservatives. But that's not the only reason they made the cut. These eight symbols signify the health benefits of the 38 flat belly foods.
Flat belly: 200 calories or less per serving, or a good source of either MUFAs (in oils, nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, dark chocolate) or whole grains
Heart healthy: 3g or less of saturated fat and less than 20 percent of the DV for cholesterol per serving
Immune-boosting: Good source of probiotics, the healthy bacteria that support immunity, or at least 20 percent of the DV for vitamins A or C or zinc
Anti-aging: Rich source of antioxidants, natural compounds that protect cells from aging
Energy-boosting: At least 5g of fiber per serving to help control blood sugar and insulin levels, keeping you fueled
Organic: USDA-certified organic; produced without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or animal products; free from growth hormones and antibiotics
Brain-boosting: Good source of omega-3 fatty acids, known to preserve cognitive function
Bone-building: At least 20 percent of the DV for calcium
Flat belly foods
1. Side dish
Kashi Seven Whole Grain Pilaf and Original 7 Grain Seven includes oats, long-grain brown rice, and barley in a ready-to-eat pouch (whole grains are linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity). Just microwave and dress with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and chopped scallions for a delicious side dish. One cup provides 250 calories with nearly 30 percent of your daily fiber needs, 8g of protein, and 10 percent of the DV for iron. (FLAT BELLY, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, ANTI-AGING, ENERGY-BOOSTING)
Amy's Organic Bowls Steel Cut Oats Hot Cereal: Retains more flavor than rolled or instant oats but typically take more than 30 minutes to cook. This bowl is ready in five from the microwave; 220 calories, 5g of fiber (20 percent DV), and 6g of protein per single-serving bowl. (FLAT BELLY, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, ANTI-AGING, ENERGY-BOOSTING, ORGANIC)
DeBoles Organic Ancient Grain Penne: Made from a blend of organic whole grain durum flour, amaranth, spelt, and quinoa. Two ounces dry (which makes about 1/2 cup cooked) provides 5g of fiber (20 percent DV) and 7g of protein to help control blood sugar levels, regulate energy, and stave off hunger. (FLAT BELLY, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, ANTI-AGING, ENERGY-BOOSTING, ORGANIC)
4. Tomato sauce
Lucini Organic Tuscan Harvest Plum Tomatoes: With just two ingredients (organic heirloom plum tomatoes and organic basil) it's an excellent alternative to pasta sauces made with high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to higher levels of compounds that could contribute to an increased risk of diabetes. A half cup provides just 19 calories with 3g of fiber and 14 to 15 percent of the DV for vitamins A and C. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING, ORGANIC)
5. Veggie snack
Just Tomatoes, Etc.! Organic Just Veggies: Dried bits of carrots, corn, peas, bell peppers, and tomatoes with no added ingredients, yet so tasty you'll think they added a flavor booster. A great way to fit in veggies when on the go. A generous 1-ounce portion (one-quarter of the tub) provides just 100 calories along with 60 percent of the DV for immune-boosting vitamin A and 45 percent for vitamin C. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, ANTI-AGING, ORGANIC)
6. Veggie juice
Hollywood Organic Carrot Juice: This single-serving, 11.2-ounce drink box (the first I've seen for carrot juice) finally makes it easy to drink your veggies. For just 100 calories with no added sugar, you get 270 percent of the DV for vitamin A, a key immune-boosting nutrient that helps fight off germs and viruses. Another bonus: Unlike other veggie juices, there's no added sodium. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, ANTI-AGING, ORGANIC)
Naked Juice Probiotic Tropical Mango Juice Smoothie: A 100 percent all-natural probiotic juice drink, made from a blend of five luscious fruits. Research suggests consuming healthy probiotic bacteria leads to a boost in immunity as well as better digestive health. One 180-calorie bottle provides a full day's worth of vitamin C and 60 percent of the DV for vitamin A, and counts as two servings of fruit. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, ANTI-AGING)
8. Dried fruit
The Raw Choice Wild Organic Sundried Mulberries: You won't believe the only ingredient in this bag is dried mulberries; the unique flavor, meaty texture, and natural sweetness will hook you on the first bite. Compared with raisins, 1/3 cup provides 43 fewer calories (130), 3g more fiber, 190 percent more of the DV for vitamin C, 22 percent more for iron, and a bonus 3g of protein. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, ANTI-AGING, ENERGY-BOOSTING, ORGANIC)
9. Precooked chicken
FreeBird Seasoned Grilled Chicken Breast Strips: Antibiotic-free, all-natural, heat-and-eat chicken strips, perfect for quick salads, wraps, and burritos; 120 calories, 2g of fat, 0.5g of saturated fat, just 180 mg of sodium, and 21g of protein per three-ounce serving. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY)
Kraft LiveActive Mozzarella Cheese Sticks: A probiotic choice for cheese lovers and a perfect pack-and-go snack. For just 80 calories you get 8g of protein (about 10 percent of what you need daily) along with 20 percent of your daily calcium needs. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, BONE-BUILDING)
11. Milk alternative
Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Vanilla Non-Dairy Beverage: The unflavored version of this "milk," made from real almonds, contains 25 percent fewer calories than most soy milks. The vanilla provides only 90 per cup, while the unsweetened chocolate or vanilla varieties provide just 40 to 45 calories and 0g of sugar with no artificial sweeteners. Perfect by itself or in cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, or puddings. All of the flavors provide 20 percent of a day's calcium, 25 percent of vitamin D, and 50 percent of vitamin E. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING, BONE-BUILDING)
Boar's Head All Natural French Country Style Turkey Breast: Naturally seasoned with garlic, lemon zest, and in an unexpected twist, lavender (rather than artificial flavors) with just 90 calories, 1.5g of fat, and 18g of filling protein per three-ounce serving. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY)
Siggi's Icelandic Style Skyr Strained Non-Fat Yogurt: It's rich in immune-boosting probiotic bacteria, and this decadently thick yogurt provides a whopping 16 to 17g of protein per six-ounce container (three times that of regular yogurt) with just 100 to 120 calories in plain or dessertlike Pear and Mint, Orange & Ginger, and Pomegranate & Passion Fruit. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, BONE-BUILDING)
Applegate Farms Chicken & Sage Sunday Sausage Made with fresh herbs, antibiotic free, and only 90 calories, with 1.5g of saturated fat, 45 mg of cholesterol, and 10g of lean protein. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY)
15. Sweet snack
Glenny's Brown Rice Marshmallow Treats: The crispy texture and sweet flavor of the homemade kind but made with organic whole grain rice instead of a processed kids' cereal. And it contains no gelatin, which is traditionally derived from meat by-products, including bones and hides; 100 calories and just 2.5g of fat and 7g of sugar per bar. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY)
16. Potato chips
Corazonas Heart-Healthy Potato Chips, Slightly Salted: Forty percent less fat than regular potato chips and infused with natural plant sterols proven to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol. They're thick, crunchy, and satisfying. The trick is sticking to one serving: one-sixth of a bag (portion it out into a small bowl and put the rest away), which provides 130 calories, 6g of fat, and 0.5g of saturated fat, with a bonus 2g of fiber. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING)
World of Grains Blueberry Snacks: You won't feel guilty satisfying your sweet tooth with these leaf-shaped wild blueberry treats, made from eight different whole grains and containing whole real blueberries. For just 140 calories, they provide 12 percent of a day's fiber needs. There are four individually portioned packets per box, so you won't be tempted to eat the entire package in one sitting. They're not labeled as cookies, but they're just as delicious, like a fresh, crunchy blueberry muffin — yum! (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING)
18. Baked chips
Garden of Eatin' Baked Blue Corn Tortilla Chips: Three grams of fat per ounce (50 percent less than fried chips), made from organic blue corn, which is a whole grain, and organic flaxseed (bonus: 300 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per serving), with no hydrogenated oils or preservatives. Enjoy with chunky salsa or MUFA-rich guacamole. A serving of these chips has 120 calories per serving, with a bonus 3g each of fiber and protein. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING, ORGANIC, BRAIN-BOOSTING)
Doctor Kracker Seeded Spelt Snack Chips: These delicious, crunchy, seedy crackers are made from organic grains including spelt, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds (both MUFA rich), flaxseed, and bran. A single-serving package contains only 120 calories with a satisfying 4 g of fiber and 5g of protein. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING, ORGANIC)
20. Nut mix
Planters Macadamia Lovers Mix Macadamias have a reputation for being "fattening," but they don't deserve it. In fact, "macs" are the top nut when it comes to MUFAs, and they have only 190 calories and 2.5g of saturated fat per ounce, along with 3g each of fiber and protein. They're so rich tasting, you only need a small portion. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING)
21. Nut butter
Justin's Natural or Organic Nut Butter Squeeze Pack: Each box contains 10 single-serving packets (1.15 ounces), perfect for portion control and quick meals. All are natural or USDA-certified organic, trans fat free, and sweetened with honey. MUFA-rich flavors include Honey Almond Butter or Honey Peanut Butter, Cinnamon Peanut Butter, Maple Almond Butter, and Classic Peanut or Almond. Per packet (Honey Almond Butter): 190 calories, 1.5g of sat fat, 3g of fiber (12 percent DV), and 6g of protein. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING)
22. Frozen dinner
Kashi Lime Cilantro Shrimp: Finally, a tasty frozen entrée made with whole grains, lean protein, and natural flavoring. This 250-calorie, ready-in-5-minutes dish provides a quarter of the fiber you need daily, along with 12g of protein, 120 percent of the DV for vitamin A, and only 2g of saturated fat. (FLAT BELLY, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, ANTI-AGING, ENERGY-BOOSTING)
Imagine Bistro Organic Cuban Black Bean Bisque: Ready-to-eat soup, chock-full of nutrients as well as rich flavor from onions, garlic, and chipotle peppers. One cup provides 170 calories, 0 g of sat fat, 6g of fiber, 8g of protein, and 15 percent of the DV for both iron and vitamin C. Simply made from organic vegetables and seasonings, without the additives found in some canned varieties, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer linked to headaches. Just heat and eat. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING, ENERGY-BOOSTING, ORGANIC)
24. Chocolate bar
Attune Dark Chocolate Probiotic Wellness Bar: Fortified with the same immune-bolstering bacteria in yogurt, this treat can satisfy cravings for just 80 calories while providing 30 percent of a day's calcium needs. A great option if you're not a yogurt fan. Bonus: Dark chocolate counts as a Flat Belly Diet MUFA. (FLAT BELLY, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, ANTI-AGING, BONE-BUILDING)
Organicville Ketchup: The fact that it's sweetened with natural agave nectar makes this particular all-American topping stand out from the pack; typical varieties use high fructose corn syrup, which some research has linked to type 2 diabetes. Organic tomatoes and seasonings deliver fresh flavor. Serve with oven-baked french fries for a guilt-free indulgence; 20 calories per one-tablespoon serving. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING, ORGANIC)
A Perfect Pair Ginger Pear Salad Dressing: There are a dozen ways to use this ultra-low-cal (10 calories per tablespoon) dressing. It bursts with flavor without piling on extra fat and sugar. Try it as a dip for chopped vegetables or fruit, or mix into fat-free cottage cheese or plain yogurt. Made from pureed Bartlett pears, pear vinegar, ginger, and lemon juice--proof that sometimes the best ideas come in simple packages. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING)
Emerald Valley Organic Edamame Spreads: You've probably enjoyed hummus made from chickpeas, but wait until you try this hearty mix prepared from edamame (soybeans), a rich source of belly-flattening MUFAs. The zesty flavors, including Ginger Wasabi, Fiesta, and Curry Lime, have just the right kick. Perfect with raw veggies or on brown rice crackers; two tablespoons provide 45 to 50 calories and 0g of sat fat. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING, ORGANIC)
Ultimate Guacamole: Voted best tasting by independent chefs, and a great source of MUFAs as well as heart-healthy fiber. Ready to eat (no onion chopping required!), with 45 calories and 2g of fiber per two-tablespoon serving. Enjoy it as a dip, or try it in place of mayonnaise and other sandwich spreads. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING)
Carrington Farms Organic Milled Flax Paks: This fresh ground flaxseed comes in individually preserved tear pouches to preserve freshness and provide the perfect portion (to help control calories). Sprinkle onto cereal, salads, or yogurt for a nutty taste and a rich dose of omega-3 fats and antioxidants. One packet provides 50 calories and 3g of fiber. (FLAT BELLY, HEAT HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING, ORGANIC, BRAIN-BOOSTING)
30. Trail mix
Bear Naked Pacific Crest Trail Mix A mixture of organic fruit, nuts, and seeds, including loads of MUFAs. One-quarter cup provides just 140 calories and 1g of sat fat, as well as 8% of your daily fiber and iron needs. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING, ORGANIC)
Tropicana Heart-Healthy with Omega-3s (fish-derived) We swear it doesn't taste fishy! Provides 50 mg of DHA/EPA per serving to help preserve cognitive function; has 120 calories per eight ounces, along with 100 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, ANTI-AGING, BRAIN-BOOSTING)
Ayala's Herbal Water: Zero calories, taste, and no artificial sweeteners! Simply flavored with antioxidant-rich spices in varieties such as Cinnamon Orange Peel and Lemongrass Mint Vanilla. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING)
33. Iced tea
Adagio Anteadote iced teas: Unlike many other zero-calorie varieties, this one contains no artificial sweeteners and no laundry list of chemical preservatives and colors. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING)
34. Flavor booster
True Keep: These minipackets of crystallized fruit flavoring in your purse and add to hot or cold water or tea. Zero calories, zero carbs, and no artificial sweeteners, in flavors like lemon, lime, and orange. Drink up! (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY)
Wild Thymes Black Currant Salad Refresher: A wildly flavorful low-cal dressing made from antioxidant-rich black currant juice, vinegar, canola and olive oils (both good sources of MUFAs), and dried orange peel; one tablespoon provides 36 calories and 3g of fat. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING)
36. Frozen treat
Diana's Bananas Banana Babies in Dark Chocolate: MUFA-rich dark chocolate–dipped frozen bananas on a stick. They're portion controlled (about the size of your palm) but taste and feel like a "real" dessert. One has only 130 calories (170 less than 1/2 cup of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey) and provides these nutrition bonuses: 1g of fiber and 10 percent of the DV for vitamin C plus a dose of potassium-rich fresh fruit. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING)
37. Ice cream alternative
Purely Decadent Dairy Free Pomegranate Chip Frozen Dessert: Made from organic soy milk, dark chocolate flakes, and natural pomegranate flavoring, this creamy dessert delivers just 200 calories per half cup, no cholesterol, and only 3.5g of saturated fat. + (FLAT BELLY)
38. Chocolate covered snack
All-Natural Sunny Seed Drops: Dark chocolate–covered sunflower seeds, a perfect alternative for M&M's lovers. They're MUFA rich and pack protein, fiber, and vitamin E; 130 calories, 1 g each of saturated fat and fiber, and 3g of protein per 2 tablespoons. Eat them as is or sprinkle them over yogurt, hot or cold cereal, or fruit salad. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING)
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