Fat is fat. Right??? Wrong!!! It turns out that even though most of us hate the way it looks, the fat right under the skin, called subcutaneous fat, isn’t as dangerous as the fat deep in the belly, called visceral fat, that surrounds your organs.
A study, published in the journal Obesity, of 1,114 African Americans and Hispanic Americans — population groups disproportionally at higher risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes and for accumulating visceral fat — identified some simple ways to zero in on and reduce visceral fat. They are:
- eat more vegetables high in soluble fiber
- eat more fruit and beans
- make sure you engage in moderate activity.
Why Is Visceral Fat So Dangerous?
According to the study’s lead researcher, “a higher rate of visceral fat is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and fatty liver disease.” The results of the study showed there can be a big health impact from making the few simple changes listed above.
The researchers found that visceral fat was reduced by 3.7% over five years for every 10 gram increase in soluble fiber the subjects ate per day. Over the same time period, an increase in moderate physical activity resulted in a 7.4% decrease in the rate of visceral fat accumulation. Interestingly, the increased intake of soluble fiber was associated with a decreased accumulated visceral fat but not with decreased subcutaneous fat.
What You Can Do
You can get 10 grams of soluble fiber from eating two small apples, one cup of green peas, and half a cup of pinto beans. Moderate activity as defined in the study is exercising vigorously for 30 minutes, two to four times a week.
Although the evidence shows that eating more soluble fiber and increasing exercise reduces visceral or belly fat, researchers still don’t know why. That’s why a study like this is so important – it gives specific information on how dietary fiber, especially soluble fiber, can affect abdominal fat deposits and weight.