If you've been unsuccessful in losing weight around your middle, here's some good news! The key ingredients found in the Flat Belly Diet -- "MUFAs," or monounsaturated fatty acids -- hold the power to truly change your body and specifically target hard-to-lose belly fat. Pair these fabulous foods with a reduced-calorie eating plan and you'll slim down where you want to--your belly. Here, 10 belly-fat-fighting superstars.
The MUFAs and vitamin E in almonds work together to cut cholesterol. Almonds are also a great source of vegetable protein and fiber.
Eating Tip: Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of almonds over low-fat unsweetened yogurt and berries for an energizing morning meal.
Avocados, a great source of heart-healthy MUFA, contain more of the cholesterol-smashing beta-sitosterol than any other fruit.
Eating Tip: Mash a 1/4 cup Hass avocado with lime juice, salt and pepper and serve with baked chips or raw vegetables.
Chocolate or, more specifically, cocoa powder made from ground, defatted cocoa beans, contains compounds that have the potential to protect against heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.
Eating Tip: Melt 1/4 cup of dark or semi-sweet chocolate. Drizzle over fresh strawberries for a belly-flattening dessert.
Flaxseed oil is the best plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and helps reduce systemic inflammation, which researchers believe may lead to heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.
Eating Tip: Stir 1 tablespoon into a smoothie as a healthy afternoon snack.
Adding nuts and seeds to your diet can yield heart-health benefits. Macadamia nuts also contain fiber to help with digestion.
Eating Tip: Crush 2 tablespoons macadamia nuts. Dip one 3-ounce portion of chicken breast or 4 ounce piece of fish in low-fat milk, then press nuts to adhere. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 20 minutes or until done.
A serving of peanut butter contains the antioxidant vitamin E, bone-building magnesium, muscle-friendly potassium, and immunity-boosting vitamin B6.
Eating Tip: Toss 1/2 cup of whole grain noodles with 3 oz cooked shrimp, minced scallions, and 1/4 cup sliced red bell pepper. Dress with a mixture of 2 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tbsp warm water and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
Olive oil is the best all around for cooking and salads because it contains mostly MUFA, which lowers "bad" LDL cholesterol without affecting "good" HDL cholesterol. The greener the oil, the more antioxidants, so go for extra-virgin.
Eating Tip: Basil pesto and sundried tomato paste are also good sources of olive oil.
Pistachios contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that help protect against age-related macular degeneration.
Eating Tip: Stir 2 tablespoons toasted pistachios into 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese with 2 teaspoons honey and 2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips for a sweet snack.
Sunflower seeds are packed with B vitamins, which play an important role in protecting against inflammation--and they're an excellent source of vitamin E. Sunflower seeds are also great for curbing hunger.
Eating Tip: Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of toasted sunflower seeds in your salad.
Like seafood and flaxseed, walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect your heart and preserve brain health. If you're nuts about walnuts, try this easy snack: Mix 1/2 cup (4 oz) canned pineapple into 1/2 cup cottage cheese. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of walnuts for only 325 calories.
Eating Tip: Add a MUFA to your favorite salad by adding 2 tablespoons of roasted walnuts.