Visceral fat, also known as belly fat, forms one part of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Belly fat’s harmful role in reducing your life expectancy stems from its positioning in the body. It accumulates near vital organs, interfering with bodily processes.
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Luckily, visceral fat can be reduced and avoided by committing to a healthy lifestyle.
One of the most effective means of achieving a healthy lifestyle is to eat a nutritious diet.
In addition to increasing your intake of certain foods, it is equally important to shun certain items that have been shown to promote visceral fat.
One of the worst culprits can be found in popular foods such as baked goods and potato chips.
Trans fats are an artificial type of fat created by pumping hydrogen into vegetable oils.
Trans fats don’t spoil quickly and have a longer shelf life.
This is why they are added to processed foods, such as baked goods and potato chips.
However, studies have shown that trans fats can increase visceral fat and may cause numerous health problems.
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In one six-year study, monkeys were fed either a diet rich in artificial trans fats or monounsaturated fats.
Monkeys on a trans fat diet gained 33 percent more visceral fat, despite taking in a similar number of calories.
To keep visceral fat bay, you should therefore swap trans fats for foods rich in monounsaturated fats.
What foods contain monounsaturated fats?
Monounsaturated fats are commonly found in plant-based oils.
Other rich sources include avocados, peanut butter, and many nuts and seeds.
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What other benefits do monounsaturated fats bring?
“Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke,” explains the American Heart Association (AHA).
As the AHA explains, they also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells.
Oils rich in monounsaturated fats also contribute vitamin E to the diet.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps repair damaged cells, reducing risk of developing health problems such as heart disease and cancer.
Other ways to reduce visceral fat
Exercise can help reduce your waist circumference.
“Even if you don’t lose weight, you lose visceral fat and gain muscle mass,” explains Harvard Health.
The health body recommends engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days, such as brisk walking or bicycling at a casual pace.
Studies have shown that you can help trim visceral fat or prevent its growth with both aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) and strength training (exercising with weights).
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