There isn’t a bad vegetable that exists. Sure, you may alter their nutritional value if you deep fry them, but at their core, vegetables are nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich foods that deserve a place at every meal. In general, eating plenty of vegetables can help lower your risk of disease, improve digestion, regulate blood sugar, and aid in healthy weight loss. Beyond these benefits, some research even shows that there are nutrients found in specific vegetables that may also help with abdominal fat loss.
We do want to emphasize that there is no such thing as one type of food that can get rid of abdominal fat on its own. This is simply impossible. Your chances of excess abdominal fat can increase due to several things like genetics, age, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet quality, or heavy alcohol consumption. Because of these many factors, losing abdominal fat requires a balanced, holistic approach. For instance, Harvard Health says that exercising, avoiding tobacco, lowering stress, and eating a balanced diet low in added sugars can help you achieve your belly fat loss goals.
So, when we talk about the best vegetables for losing abdominal fat, we are including veggies that contain certain nutrients helpful to this process, but we encourage you to include these foods as part of a full and balanced eating plan.
Read on, and for more tips on eating healthy, check out these 30+ Weeknight Dinner Ideas to Kickstart a Healthy 2024.
Broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables you can find, which is why both of our dietitians swear by this green veggie as a food for helping to manage weight around your abdomen.
“This cruciferous vegetable is rich in antioxidants that help drive down inflammation in the body,” says Best. “The primary compound is sulforaphane, which works by lowering cytokines and NF-kB in the body. These substances drive the inflammatory process. By reducing inflammation, the body is better able to release weight and work efficiently in every other area as well.”
Research confirms broccoli is a good vegetable for belly fat. One study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that regularly consuming dark green vegetables (which includes broccoli and leafy greens like kale and spinach) helped decrease visceral fat in overweight Latino youth participants. Similar results were found with bright yellow and orange vegetables, such as carrots and bell peppers.
The research from Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics included carrots in their conclusion of helpful vegetables for belly fat, adding that carrots and broccoli were the most common vegetables consumed among participants.
Carrots are rich in a type of plant compound called lutein, which research has shown has antioxidant capabilities, as well as potential links to helping lower abdominal fat tissue. On top of that, Best says that chewing raw carrots may actually help with metabolism.
“This vegetable is unique in its ability to help reduce belly fat in the fact that it raises the body’s metabolism,” says Best. “The thermogenic effect of food (TEF) is the rate of calories a food causes the body to burn while being digested. Because carrots have a hard texture, they have a high TEF and therefore cause the body to burn more calories simply by eating them.”
Another vegetable that provides helpful nutrients linked to abdominal fat loss is lettuce. First off, lettuce is high in lutein, the plant compound we already mentioned has a potential impact on decreasing belly fat. This compound is part of a larger group of compounds called carotenoids, which include lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin—all of which have antioxidant properties. Along with being antioxidants, some research supports these compounds as being able to help with fat loss, too.
One study on Japanese men with obesity found that increasing carotenoid-rich vegetables (which includes lutein-rich veggies like lettuce) can reduce visceral fat—a type of abdominal fat located near vital abdominal organs.
Lettuce was also mentioned in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study on Latino youth as a green vegetable linked to abdominal fat loss.