Whole-Grain Foods for Belly-Fat Reduction

Ditching belly fat may be a simple matter of choosing the right rice or bread. And the choice to make? Whole grains.

You probably already love whole grains for their heart-healthy, disease-defying superpowers. So research on their belly-fat-busting abilities should vault whole grains to the top of your grocery list.

A One-Grain Guy
In fact, the more whole grains you add to your diet in place of refined grains, the better off your waistline will be. In a study where scientists reviewed the diets of close to 3,000 men and women, they found a strong correlation between belly fat and grain choice. The whole-grain lovers tended to have less belly fat than refined-grain buyers -- and had smaller waists, too. But eating more whole grains had a fat-curbing effect only when it was combined with a low intake of refined grains. So eating that whole-grain cereal at breakfast doesn't mean you can slack off and have the white-bread sandwich at lunchtime. (Here's another stomach-slimming secret: Cook with this type of fat.)

The Magic Number
Just how many whole-grain servings do you need to stay slim? Researchers think at least three servings daily is a good goal. That can be achieved with half a cup of steel-cut oatmeal in the morning and a couple of slices of whole-grain bread for your sandwich at lunch. But not just any whole-grain bread. Find a loaf that's high in fiber. Researchers suspect the waist-friendly qualities of whole-grain products come, in part, from the appetite-steadying fiber found inside. Whole grains also have lots of magnesium, which is good for improving insulin sensitivity. (Find out which flavonoids may help curb belly fat.)