By Ana Mantica, "Take That, Belly Fat!,"July/August 2010
The secret to whittling your waistline with this Mustard Greens & Bulgur recipe (see picture) isn’t that it’s low in calories (169 per serving). It’s that three of its ingredients may help you slim down.
It’s a whole grain—and swapping refined grains for whole grains may help reduce total body fat and abdominal fat, according to new research in the Journal of Nutrition. In the study, adults who ate about 3 servings of whole grains a day had about 2.4 percent less body fat and 3.6 percent less abdominal fat than those who ate less than a quarter of a serving. Researchers speculate that the fiber from whole grains may help you feel full with less food—and possibly fuller than fiber from other sources, such as fruit and vegetables. Aim for at least three servings of whole grains daily (one serving equals 1 cup of whole-grain cereal or a slice of whole-wheat bread).
In one Japanese study, when obese adults added about 2 tablespoons of acetic acid (the active ingredient in vinegar) a day to their regular diets for 12 weeks, they gained 4 fewer pounds, about 5 percent less belly fat and 3.5 percent less total body fat than adults who didn’t consume any acetic acid. Researchers suspect that the acetic acid ramps up enzymes that oxidize fat, so less fat accumulates. Add any type of vinegar—even a tablespoon—to your daily diet.
In a Harvard study, researchers looked at the eating habits of more than 50,000 women over eight years. Those who reported consuming nuts at least twice a week gained less weight than women who rarely ate nuts. Although nuts are high in calories and fat, researchers think that the combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats (mono- and polyunsaturated) help keep you feeling full. A few times a week, work an ounce of nuts (about 14 walnut halves, 20 to 24 almonds, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter) into a balanced diet.