Visceral fat is deceptive but highly dangerous because you cannot see it yet it lies in proximity to vital organs, such as the liver and intestines.
A visceral fat build-up can therefore interfere with vital bodily processes, triggering harmful mechanisms such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
It is also associated with insulin resistance which can lead to blood sugar intolerance and type 2 diabetes.
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Considering the risks posed by harmful belly fat, it is vital that you overhaul unhealthy aspects of your lifestyle to reduce it.
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet plays a key role in reducing visceral fat, and, while it is wise to focus on general dietary principles as opposed to relying on specific items, evidence is increasingly shedding light on the ingredients that can aid the fat-burning process.
Ginger, a spice that is extracted from the flowering ginger plant, Zingiber officinale, has been shown to reduce the harmful belly fat, for example.
One review of 14 human studies showed that supplementing with ginger significantly decreased both body weight and belly fat.
Furthermore, another review of 27 human, animal and test-tube studies also concluded that ginger may help lower weight by increasing metabolism and fat burning while simultaneously decreasing fat absorption and appetite.
Strengthening the findings, ginger has also been shown to provide defence against complications that can arise from visceral fat build-up, such as type 2 diabetes.
In a recent study of 41 participants with type 2 diabetes, two grams of ginger powder per day lowered fasting blood sugar by 12 percent.
The spice has also been shown to lower “bad” cholesterol levels – a waxy substance found in your blood that is a marker of heart disease and is associated with visceral fat.
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In a 45-day study of 85 individuals with high cholesterol, three grams of ginger powder caused significant reductions in most cholesterol markers.
This finding is bolstered by a study in hypothyroid rats, where ginger extract lowered LDL cholesterol to a similar extent as the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin.
Other ways to reduce the harmful belly fat
Exercise forms an essential part of shedding the harmful fat by reducing your waist circumference.
Crucially, as Harvard Health notes, even if you don’t lose weight, you lose visceral fat and gain muscle mass.
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Numerous studies have shown that aerobic exercise offers a potent defence against the harmful belly fat.
In fact, many studies have shown that aerobic exercise can help you lose visceral fat, even without dieting.
For example, an analysis of 15 studies in 852 people compared how well different types of exercise reduced visceral fat without dieting.
They found that moderate and high-intensity aerobic exercises were most effective at reducing visceral fat without dieting.
How can I tell if I am carrying visceral fat?
According to Harvard Health, a tape measure is the most accurate method for keeping tabs on visceral fat.
The health body explains: “Measure your waistline at the level of the navel — not at the narrowest part of the torso — and always measure in the same place.
“Don’t suck in your gut or pull the tape tight enough to compress the area. In women, a waist circumference of 35 inches or larger is generally considered a sign of excess visceral fat, but that may not apply if your overall body size is large.”
It added: “Rather than focus on a single reading or absolute cut-off, keep an eye on whether your waist is growing. That should give you a good idea of whether you’re gaining unhealthy visceral fat.”
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