Trim abdominal fat with food choices

1. Eat like a Mediterranean. The Mediterranean eating pattern, which is rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables; moderate in olive oil, fish and alcohol; and modest in dairy, meats and sweets, has been shown to reduce abdominal obesity.

2. Limit refined grains. According to Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., M.A., R.D., C.S.S.D., dietitian and co-author of the “Flat Belly Diet”: “Eliminate refined grains, like white rice and pasta, and include a small serving of a 100 percent whole grain at each meal. Published research shows this nutrition upgrade helps reduce belly fat.” Switch from refined grains, such as foods made from refined flours, to whole grains, including wheat, oats, quinoa, barley, amaranth, rye and bulgur.

3. Include nuts. Eating as little as a quarter ounce of daily tree nuts, such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios and hazelnuts, has been linked with lower abdominal fat.

4. Choose more bean-based meals.

“Regular bean eaters have smaller waistlines; I recommend trading meat for beans or lentils at least five times per week,” says Sass.

5. Cut “empty” calories. A high intake of low nutrient-density foods, such as sugary beverages, sweets and snack foods is related to increased central obesity.

6. Focus on fiber-rich foods. Eating high-fiber foods, such as lentils, artichokes, berries and oat bran, is associated with lower abdominal fat.

7. Eat dairy foods. Including dairy foods, such as low-fat milk, yogurt and moderate amounts of cheese, is associated with lower central obesity.

8. Enjoy wine in moderation. Lower central obesity has been observed in women with moderate (one glass per day) wine consumption.