Visceral fat is deemed harmful because it’s stored in the abdominal cavity next to many vital organs. If visceral fat is left to build-up, a person’s risk of developing serious conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, is increased. So what can you do to reduce it? Eating high amount of saturated fat can lead to high levels of visceral fat, but not all fats should be cut out completely.
Trans fats can increase a person’s visceral fat
A small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet, says the NHS.
It states: “Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot make itself.
“Fat helps the body absorb vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E. These vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning they can only be absorbed with the help of fats.”
But there are ‘good’ fats and ‘bad’ fats, for example trans fats can increase a person’s visceral fat.
Trans fats are found naturally at low levels in some foods, such as meat and dairy products.
They can also be found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
But studies have shown trans fats can increase a person’s visceral fat.
One six-year study saw monkeys fed either a diet rich in artificial trans fats or monounsaturated fats.
Monkeys on the trans fat diet gained 33 per cent more visceral fat, despite taking in a similar number of calories.
Wake Forest University researchers also found a diet high in trans fats doesn’t just contribute to overall belly fat, but also helps to shift fat from other areas to the belly.
Monounsaturated fats help protect the heart by maintaining levels of good HDL cholesterol while reducing levels of bad LDL cholesterol.
One study undertaken by the American Diabetes Association found a higher intake of monounsaturated fats also led to lower central fat distribution, as well as a decrease in insulin resistance.
Monounsaturated fats can be found in the following five foods:
- Olive oil
- Pumpkin seeds
Choosing monounsaturated fats rather than trans fats should form part of a healthy, balanced diet.
But alongside eating healthily, it’s also important to regularly exercise to get rid of visceral fat.
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