Eating chickpeas could ‘drastically’ lower visceral fat – research

Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning

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The buildup of fatty tissue around your vital organs, known as visceral obesity, is a dangerous trend. It can put you at risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes. Consuming chickpeas, the main ingredient of hummus, is one way that has been shown to help with preventing visceral fat buildup.

According to Bupa UK, foods rich in protein and low in fat are a sure way to help manage your fat levels.

Chickpeas in particular have been found to reduce the ratio of fat to total body weight in animal studies.

The food, whether eaten cooked or raw, contains lots of nutrients that can act in the body to reduce fat.

One of the leading studies, published in The British Journal of Nutrition, tested the effect of eating chickpeas on rodents. It has since been cited by dozens of other scientists.

The researchers fed rodents chickpeas for eight months as part of a high-fat diet and compared them to other rodents given a high-fat diet without chickpeas.

The abdominal fat weight to total body weight ratio of the rats was smaller in the group that had the chickpeas.

It also found that the rats given chickpeas experienced an improvement in insulin resistance. The chickpea-fed rats also had reduced blood sugar levels.

The study concluded that the “findings provide a rational basis for the consumption of chickpeas as a functional food ingredient, which may be beneficial for correcting dyslipidaemia and preventing diabetes”.

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Dyslipidaemia refers to the imbalance of fats like “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and HDL cholesterol.

Chickpeas contain beneficial substances such as carotenoids and polyphenols – which has benefits that “may extend beyond basic nutrition requirements of humans”.

Carotenoids have been shown in studies to decrease obesity by promoting the breakdown of fatty acids that make up fat cells.

Polyphenols – a type of antioxidant – have also been shown to help with reducing and maintaining body weight

According to Herrington Medical Centre: “Trials have shown that adding just one daily serving (130 g) of chickpeas to your diet encourages the consumption of fewer unhealthy saturated and trans-fats, and leads to a five percent lowering of cholesterol levels, in the process.”

What else can you eat to reduce visceral fat?

Bupa has identified several other lean foods that you could eat to help lose weight. These foods, it says, can “make you feel fuller than carbs”.

“By including a lean source of protein in your meals you may find that you’re not as hungry, and so eat less,” it added.

It suggests eating the following as part of your diet:

  • chicken breast
  • tuna
  • mackerel
  • salmon
  • eggs
  • milk
  • red lentils
  • chickpeas
  • brown bread
  • nuts
  • soya

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