Abdominal fat is not inert, but it releases pro-inflammatory substances and can increase the risk of developing heart disease. That is why it is important to counter it. However, as we saw on the basis of a research of a few weeks ago, abdominal fat is also the most resistant, capable of strengthening and increasing even following diets based on intermittent fasting. But some powerful antioxidant substances from the carotenoid class have been shown to decrease visceral fat, as reported by a study published a few days ago in the journal Nutrients by a Japanese team (Matsumoto et al, Nutrients, 2021).
The properties of carotenoids and the Japanese experiments
Carotenoids, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene and beta carotene, are substances contained in fruits and vegetables that can commonly be found on our tables. Carotenoids are at the center of several scientific studies for their undoubted ability to counteract free radicals and therefore the aging processes. Not only that, it is believed that carotenoids act directly on the accumulations of fat, inhibiting them. Until now, however, the link between carotenoids and visceral fat was not very clear. That is why the Japanese researchers have launched a large study, which involved more than 800 people, over the age of twenty and in good health. Volunteers were asked to fill out a questionnaire that included their habits, such as physical activity and whether they were smokers, any medications they took and diet. Not only that, the volunteers also had to undergo blood tests to assess the amount of circulating carotenoids and measurements of visceral fat.
Carotenoids and visceral fat
What has emerged is that, for women, there is a clear link between circulating carotenoids, especially lutein and beta carotene, and abdominal fat. In particular, the higher the amount of carotenoids observed, the lower the amount of visceral fat. As for men, it was found that only lycopene, another carotenoid, leads to a reduction in visceral fat. As pointed out by the same authors of the study, it is probable that some carotenoids need to exceed a certain threshold in order to be able to act on visceral fat and that men, who in the study in question all had much lower carotenoid values ??than women, did not reach that threshold.
Carotenoids through diet
Hence the importance of introducing foods rich in carotenoids into your diet, in order to keep visceral fat under control and therefore also the cardiovascular risk. Lycopene is an antioxidant found in watermelon and tomatoes, although in the latter case, the tomato must be cooked in oil to become bioavailable. Lutein is found in spinach, kale, lettuce, parsley, pistachios and egg yolks. Beta carotene, on the other hand, is contained in carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, persimmon, apricots, but also green leafy vegetables.