Oats and nuts
One sure way to zap belly fat is to increase the amount of soluble fiber you consume, says Jessica Crandall, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Foods that are rich in soluble fiber include oats, nuts, beans, and berries. You should aim for 25-35 grams per day, especially if you’re diabetic. Soluble fiber does a much better job controlling your blood sugar than carbs, like a piece of bread, which can make your blood sugar spike then drop. Here are clear signs you're not eating enough fiber.
Bananas get a bad reputation (too carby!) as far as healthy foods are concerned, but they’re actually a good source of nutrients. In particular, the potassium in bananas can help flush extra fluids out of your system. “If you’re carrying too much water weight, like if you ate a lot of salty foods the night before, high-potassium foods can help get rid of that water weight,” Crandall says. Check out these other surprising uses for bananas.
Watermelon is another fruit that’s high in potassium to cut down on water weight. A study from the University of Kentucky also found that drinking watermelon juice can decrease body fat and even reduce cholesterol. (Here are more foods that lower cholesterol naturally.) How does a banana-watermelon fruit salad sound?
Probiotic foods contain “good” bacteria that can regulate digestion. Researchers from the University of Manitoba in Canada led a study that fed one daily serving of yogurt to overweight volunteers. Half of the participants ate yogurt spiked with one of two bacteria. In a month and a half, those who had probiotic yogurt lost 3 or 4 percent of their body fat, depending on which bacteria they were given. Crandall recommends one probiotic-rich food each day for healthy digestion, like one of these 13 probiotic-filled foods.
If you regularly opt for salty or sugary snacks, extra belly fat can sneak up and surprise you once you step on the scale. Resist the urge to open that bag of potato chips and much on cucumber slices instead. Their high water content and low calorie count make them a guilt-free snack, plus their soluble fiber will fill you up and keep you full. Here's how to grow your own cucumbers.
Papayas are often overlooked for more conventional fruits, but they’re worth adding to your grocery list. They contain many proteolytic enzymes that make digestion easier and are good sources of fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C (they have twice the vitamin C of oranges!).
Yes, asparagus can make your urine smell, but since it has such great health benefits, you should keep eating it anyway. High levels of the amino acid asparagine make asparagus a natural diuretic. Plus, just one cup of asparagus contains three grams of fiber, so it’ll keep you full in between meals. Other fiber-rich veggies include bell peppers, broccoli, and snap peas.
Feeling bloated? Suck on a candy cane. Crandall notes that peppermint extract is known to decrease gas and ease digestive irritation. Even sniffing peppermint may make you less hungry and prevent overeating. Here are more foods you should sniff to slim down.
If you’re overworked, your job could explain why your pants are tighter than normal. Research shows that stress can actually make you sick and even affect your weight. “Stress really does increase belly fat,” Crandall warns. Chamomile tea naturally calms your body and eases bloating. Staying hydrated is another way to fight belly fat, and drinking tea can help you reach the recommended ten glasses of fluids each day.
Be sure to check the label before you buy chocolate bars; they could be healthier than you think. Dark chocolate that contains more than 60 percent cacao has high antioxidant properties. “It can decrease inflammation and curb your sweet cravings,” Crandall says, “so you’re not just reaching for that milk chocolate bar.” A UC San Diego study also found that people who ate chocolate on a regular basis had a lower body mass index than people who indulged less frequently.