How to lose visceral fat: Blueberries may reduce the harmful belly fat suggests study

Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning

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Visceral fat lurks near vital organs in the body, such as the liver and intestines. Due to its location in the body, it forms one part of metabolic syndrome – a cluster of conditions that raise your risk of cardiovascular complications. Fortunately, you can get at the stubborn belly fat by improving your diet.

Research conducted by the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center suggests a blueberry-rich diet can reduce visceral fat.

The effect is thought to be due to the high level of phytochemicals – naturally occurring antioxidants – that blueberries contain.

The study was performed in laboratory rats. The rats in the study were of a similar makeup to those who suffer fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome as a result of high-fat diets and obesity.

The researchers studied the effect of blueberries (freeze dried blueberries crushed into a powder) that were mixed into the rat diet, as part of either a low or high-fat diet.

They performed many comparisons between the rats consuming the test diets and the control rats receiving no blueberry powder.

All the rats were from a research breed that is prone to being severely overweight.

In all, after 90 days, the rats that received the blueberry-enriched powder, measured as two percent of their diet, had less visceral fat.

They also had lower triglycerides, lower cholesterol, and improved fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity – other factors that can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.

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These health benefits were enhanced when combined with a low-fat diet, the researchers found.

Although the current study was supported by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, which also supplied the blueberry powder, the council did not play a role in the study’s conduct, analysis or the preparation of the poster presentation.

General dietary tips to reduce visceral fat

Eating protein is optimal for weight loss.

Bupa explains: “Protein can be a helpful way to lose weight because it makes you feel fuller than carbs and fat do.”

If you include a lean source of protein, such as skinless white chicken, in your meals you may find that you’re not as hungry, and so eat less, says the health body.

Good sources include chicken breast, tuna, mackerel, salmon, eggs, milk, red lentils, chickpeas, brown bread, nuts and soya.

“Go for foods that are rich in protein and low in fat (known as lean protein sources) as some sources of protein can be high in saturated fat,” advises Bupa.

In addition to improving your diet, you should also engage in regular exercise.

According to Harvard Health, thirty minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise on most days plus resistance exercise a few days a week has been shown to reduce visceral fat.

Moderate-intensity exercise will raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.

Examples of moderate intensity activities include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Water aerobics
  • Riding a bike
  • Dancing.

Resistance training typically uses weights to strengthen your muscles.

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