By now, you’ve probably heard a lot about inflammation and the many ways it can wreak havoc on your health. Inflammation in the body is responsible for everything from pain in the joints to certain diseases. But there’s another common problem that many of us deal with that has more to do with inflammation that we think: belly fat.
Belly fat and inflammation go hand in hand. The more fat cells the body accumulates (which the body just loves to store in the lower belly area), the more insulin our bodies push out in response to those fat cells. And the more insulin that courses throughout our body, the more hormonal imbalances we experience. It’s a vicious cycle that just continues to repeat itself.
But there’s hope yet — and good news. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like these four anti-inflammatory proteins can help combat the problem. And they get bonus points for being delicious. “Many experimental studies have shown that components of food or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, tells My Fitness Pal.
While foods like fried foods, processed meats, and sugary beverages fuel inflammation, Hu says these four foods are among those that can help get rid of chronic inflammation and fight belly fat.
Give meat a rest for a while and turn your attention to the anti-inflammatory world of fatty fish, including tuna. This fish's omega-3 fatty acids make it one of the best foods to eat to fight inflammation and protect you from heart disease. Aim to include between two and four servings of fatty fish each week to experience major health benefits. Note: canned tuna packs nutritional benefits, but can also be higher in mercury than fresh tuna.
The nutrients found in fatty fish like salmon are so effective we included them twice on this list. Wild salmon is an incredible source of omega-3 fatty acids and EPA and DHA, which actively fight inflammation in your body. Salmon helps your body increase a hormone called adiponectin, which boost your metabolism and burns fat everywhere — including the belly.
Fighting inflammation and reducing belly fat doesn't always require you to sit down to a full meal. Snacking on a handful of walnuts each day provides enough omega-3 fatty acids--and nutrients like copper and manganese--to curb inflammation, rev up your metabolism, and reduce belly fat.
In keeping with our meatless protein theme, black beans, which pack 39 grams of protein per cup, are the perfect low-calorie protein source — one that happens to have anti-inflammatory properties. The key nutrient in black beans is an antioxidant called anthocyanins, which is known for its ability to lower inflammation. Include beans in soups, salads, or alone as a side dish.