8 Summer Foods That Flatten Your Belly

What to eat to keep your middle little all season long

July 8, 2011
1/9 Mitch Mandel
Fat That Flattens

Want to look better in your bathing suit? Eat more fat. Strange as it may sound, studies show that monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), a type of plant-based fat, fight heart disease and help you lose weight from your most troublesome spot--your belly.

The following summertime favorites contain fat-burning MUFAs.

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2/9 Thomas MacDonald

Why they're a flat belly food: Smoothies are not only packed with antioxidants but can also be rich in MUFAs. Adding a nut butter and flaxseed oil to fruit and yogurt boosts your intake of healthy fats while imparting a rich, nutty flavor. Enjoy a slimming sip as a snack or on-the-go breakfast.

Whip Up a Flat Belly Smoothie

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Why it's a flat belly food: Don't be shy when this popular dip appears at your next pool party. With nearly 10 g of MUFAs per half an avocado, you'll fill up without feeling bloated. Avocados also contain more beta-sitosterol, a fat that reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food, than any other fruit. So enjoy a quarter-cup serving guilt free.

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More: Lose up to 15 pounds in 32 days eating what you love! Find out how.

pesto pasta salad
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Pesto Pasta Salad

Why's it's a flat belly food: Pesto, a rich green sauce made of garlic, basil, nuts, oil, and cheese, is delicious and a natural waist whittler. Nuts and oils are rich sources of MUFAs, so this savory side dish is a healthy way to get a pasta fix, especially when it's made with whole wheat pasta and tons of veggies. Steer clear of pasta salad made with creamy, white sauces. These typically contain mayonnaise, which packs in 90 calories and 10 g of fat per serving! (Search: Healthy carbs)

Summer's Perfect Pesto Pasta Salad

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Why they're a flat belly food: Load these low-carb options with plenty of fresh veggies and a tablespoon of either olive tapenade or pesto and you've got yourself a superslimming lunch. A light coating of these zesty sauces is all you need for maximum flavor, which makes it easy to boost your intake of MUFAs without adding loads of calories.

Get a Quick Fix Idea for Mediterranean Salad Wraps Here

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Why they're a flat belly food: A 2003 study found that dieters who ate 3 ounces of almonds a day lost more weight and had smaller waists than dieters who ate similarly but swapped almonds for complex carbohydrates. Packed with MUFAs, almonds can be added to cereal, sprinkled on salads, or grabbed by the handful (just one!) as a belly-shrinking snack.

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dark chocolate
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Dark Chocolate

Why it's a flat belly food: Don't eat the entire bar; add just ¼ cup of dark chocolate to fresh fruit to quiet a sugar craving without wrecking your waistline. Choose dark over milk chocolate for the heart-healthy, belly-slimming benefits. A 2008 study from the University of Copenhagen found that participants who nibbled dark chocolate before a meal ate 15% fewer calories than participants who had milk chocolate.

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veggie pizza
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Veggie Pizza

Why it's a flat belly food: Turn this splurge into a skinny slice by loading up the veggies and slimming down the dough. Take a thin whole wheat crust; pile on low-cal peppers, onions, and mushrooms; and top with some belly-slimming, MUFA-rich pesto or olive oil. You've just made a better-than-delivery dinner.

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Related: Pick out the smartest foods at the drive-thru when you pick up a copy of Eat This, Not That!

fresh seafood
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Fresh Seafood

Why it's a flat belly food: Most seafood is low in calories, packed with protein, and filled with good-for-you ingredients like heart-healthy omega-3s and immunity-boosting selenium. But you can make them work for your waistline too. Simply coat salmon, tuna, or shrimp with MUFA-rich olive oil, pesto, or nuts and toss on the grill for a flat belly meal in minutes.

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Next Up: 10 Desserts That Flatten Your Belly