Reduce Belly Fat to Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Excess belly fat puts both men and women at a greater risk of heart disease, stroke or heart attack. According to Michael Jensen, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, belly fat can also be the cause of high blood pressure, high levels of triglycerides in the system as well as low levels of good HDL cholesterol, all precursors to heart disease. By reducing belly fat, even by a few pounds, the risk of heart disease can also be reduced.
Why Belly Fat Accumulates
For most people, belly fat accumulates as they age. Eating more, exercising less, slowing down of the metabolism and fluctuating hormones can all be factors of increased belly fat. Heredity can also be a culprit as some people do inherit the tendency to gain weight in the belly. For women, the problem may be caused due to fluctuating hormones during and after menopause. But for most people, gaining belly fat is the result of poor diet and lack of exercise.
Measuring the Risk
How much is too much belly fat? Jensen suggests measuring the area around the waist to determine if a person is at risk. Using a tape measurer, measure the width around the waist at the level of the naval. Men are considered a high risk if their waist measurement is 40 inches or greater. Women who measure a waist of 35 inches or more are considered to be at a high risk.
Ways to Reduce Belly Fat
The good news is that when you diet, you generally lose belly fat first. By making a few changes to diet and lifestyle, you can lose that dangerous belly fat. Here are some tips on ways to reduce belly fat.
- Eat a healthy diet. Reduce the intake of sugar and fats and eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, high-fiber foods and protein. Eat good fats, such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, tuna, mackerel, flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds and flaxseed oil. Watch the calorie count each day in order to lose weight.
- Add exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults need at least 150 minutes each week of moderate exercise, such as walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as aerobics. In addition, the CDC recommends at least two days each week of muscle strengthening exercise to increase muscles in the arms, back, legs, chest, shoulders and abdomen.
- Decrease alcohol consumption. There really is truth in the term “beer belly”. Alcoholic beverages are high in calories and sugar which can make a person gain weight quickly. By limiting alcohol consumption you can lose belly fat quicker.
Belly fat can be a danger to anyone, no matter what their age. By losing belly fat, a person can lower their risk of heart disease and live a longer, healthier life.
Contributed by: Deanna Lynn Sletten