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5 foods to help you beat dangerous belly fat

by Joy Bauer / / Source: TODAY

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More than 70 percent of adults — ages 20 and older — are overweight, and almost 40 percent are considered obese (having a BMI of 30+; go here to calculate your BMI). Many of us carry this excess weight around the middle; and belly fat is much worse than the fat around your hips and thighs because it messes with hormone production and increases inflammation, and in turn, heightens the risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

To measure your middle, stand and place a tape measure around your waist just above your hipbones. Measure after you breathe out. Women should be below 35 inches; men below 40 inches.

Trimming just 1 inch could give you a huge health boost. Of course, exercising can help trim belly fat, but you can also do it through diet — not only by removing foods, but by adding certain foods, such as these:

1. Salmon

The popular seafood pick is loaded with protein, which can help you feel satiated so that you eat less throughout the day. It’s also one of the richest sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D can help minimize belly fat as it’s involved in the production of hormones that regulate appetite and in signaling belly fat cells to burn off.

There are a million ways to prepare it: Try salmon grilled, baked, broiled, even mashed into this yummy wild salmon and chickpea salad or delicious pesto salmon with roasted artichoke hearts.

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2. Greek yogurt

Low-fat Greek yogurt contains twice as much satiating protein as traditional yogurt, which can keep you feeling fuller longer and control appetite. That can translate to less belly fat.

Also, yogurt is rich in calcium, and research has linked calcium to lower levels of abdominal fat. Of course, all the nutrients in food work together, but calcium has been singled out because experts believe it may help to increase fat burn, reduce fat absorption, and slightly rev metabolism. Yogurt also contains probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that help your digestive system and may promote a healthy weight, according to a study in Nutrition and Metabolism.

Make a yogurt parfait with granola and chopped fruit; use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream on a baked potato or bowl of chili; or try it in place of mayo in this healthy egg salad recipe.

3. Artichokes

While yogurt has probiotics, artichokes are prebiotics, which mean they feed the probiotics in the gut, enabling them to do their jobs.

The combination of prebiotics and probiotics create a gut filled with good bacteria — and good bacteria are so important when it comes to belly fat because they help to play interference with fat storage and reduce inflammation.

Toss chopped canned artichoke hearts into salads, soups and pasta; or make these tasty roasted artichoke hearts.

4. Broccoli

Broccoli can help burn belly fat for a few key reasons.

First, a few studies have shown a relationship between people who consume ample amounts of deep-colored veggies (specifically green, yellow and orange) and lower levels of visceral fat, the dangerous fat around your organs.

Broccoli, in particular, is such a standout among all the deep-colored veggies because it’s one of the few that contain calcium, which has been shown to increase fat loss, especially in the abdominal area. And interestingly enough, a large-scale observational study suggests that calcium from food seems to be more effective than calcium from supplements — another good reason to eat your greens.

You can’t go wrong simply roasting broccoli with some olive oil and seasonings in the oven. Or, try my kid-friendly broccoli tater tot recipe.

5. Onions

Onions contain a type of soluble fiber called inulin, which acts as a prebiotic — just like artichokes.

Again, this is important for good gut health, and according to preliminary studies, may also help facilitate weight loss in the abdominal area.

Not to mention, onions are an easy way to add loads of flavor to a variety of dishes — everything from soups, stews, sandwiches, tacos, burgers and pizza ... You name it — without adding calories, fat, sodium or sugar.

Whip up delicious caramelized onions and enjoy them in this caramelized onions and mushrooms recipe.

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