Belly fat, or the fat that gathers around our mid-section, doesn’t just make it harder to get into our favorite pair of jeans. Storing fat in this area of our body has been shown to be a risk factor for many major diseases, from heart disease and stroke to diabetes and cancer.

There are loads of articles in popular magazines that tout one specific food or another as a means to a flatter stomach. And while most of the foods in these articles can indeed help you lose weight or reduce bloat, it’s not like you can just eat a list of ten or so foods and then assume that will be the key to losing fat around your middle.

There’s no way to specifically target belly fat, but reducing your overall body fat can help to diminish belly bulge. So rather than giving you a list of specific foods that will or will not help you decrease your waist size, here are a few important nutrients that can help you lose the bloat, reduce your hunger or boost your metabolism, assuming they’re incorporated into an overall healthy eating plan.

None of the foods below are a “cure all” for a flatter stomach in and of themselves. But they can give you the upper hand when you’re trying to keep the circumference of your mid-section in check.

Protein

Study after study confirms the fact that eating protein can help you feel full. When you choose foods that satisfy your hunger, you’re more likely to eat less. Many types of carbs, on the other hand, will leave you looking for more to eat soon after you finish the last bite. This is especially true if those carbs are simple carbs, like those found in sugary treats or products made with white flour. Another added benefit to protein? You burn more calories digesting protein than you do fat or carbs.

Some good foods to try? Fish, eggs, skinless chicken and turkey are all good sources of protein with minimal saturated fat.

Fiber

Adding fiber to your diet helps get your digestive system going. Researchers at the University of Toronto found that consuming two types of fiber together can be most effective in keeping your body regular. This advice is based on a study where participants ate cereal that contained both insoluble fiber from bran and gel-like soluble fiber from psyllium. Fiber also increases satiety, so you feel fuller longer.

Some good foods to try? Fiber-rich cereal, whole grains, beans, fruit and vegetables.

Potassium

There are two main minerals that help control the amount of water in your body. They are potassium and sodium. When there is too much sodium in your body, your tissues tend to hold onto fluid, which can lead to belly bloat. Increasing the amount of potassium in your diet helps regulate sodium levels, resulting in less fluid retention and puffiness. That doesn’t mean you are free to consume as much sodium as you want, however. Eating more potassium won’t negate a high sodium diet.

Some good foods to try? Bananas, potatoes, papayas and spinach are rich sources of potassium.

Iron

Studies have shown that being deficient in iron can slow down your metabolism, so make sure you get enough iron in your diet each and every day to keep the furnace burning.

Some good foods to try? Beef, seafood, lentils, beans, dark green leafy vegetables and iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas.

Sources:

www.cnn.com/2015/01/07/health/feat-beat-belly-fat/

http://www.prevention.com/food/food-remedies/flat-belly-foods-that-boost-energy-and-control-hunger

http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/flat-belly-diet/best-foods-eat-and-avoid-flat-belly

http://www.health.com/nutrition/flat-belly-foods

http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-tips/common-diet-mistakes-slow-metabolism