While excess fat in any body area isn't ideal from a health standpoint, fat that accumulates around your midsection is particularly problematic. Unlike fat elsewhere, belly fat is largely visceral, according to Harvard Health Publications, meaning it surrounds organs. Visceral fat releases chemicals called cytokines, which promote insulin resistance, inflammation and other heart disease risks. While foods aren't known to minimize abdominal fat on their own, emphasizing certain foods within a balanced diet can help.
In a study published in the "Journal of Nutrition" in February 2012, 79 overweight or obese post-menopausal women were assigned to either a restricted-calorie diet containing whole grains or refined grains for 12 weeks. Although both diets were equal in terms of calories and participants lost similar amounts of weight, those who consumed whole grains lost significantly more abdominal fat than those who did not. For similar benefits, swap out refined-grain products -- such as white breads, instant rice and pretzels -- in your diet with whole-grain foods, such as oats, brown rice and 100-percent whole-grain breads and cereals.
Fruits and Vegetables
A diet that minimizes abdominal fat should emphasize fruits and vegetables, states Harvard Health Publications. As rich sources of water and fiber, which don't contribute calories but do enhance satiation, they provide useful ways to amp up your nutrient intake and prevent overeating as you slim down. To lower the calorie content of entrees, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends replacing 1 cup of rice or pasta with chopped vegetables in your favorite recipes. Particularly fiber-rich fruits and vegetables include cooked turnips, kale, brussels sprouts and peas as well as fresh skin-on apples and pears.
Replacing saturated and trans fats in your diet with polyunsaturated fats can also help reduce abdominal fat, according to Harvard Health Publications. While saturated and trans fats promote inflammation in your cardiovascular system, unsaturated fats are considered heart-healthy. Although nuts are dense in calories, moderate, routine consumption in place of unhealthy fat sources can help improve your cholesterol health without packing on pounds, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A 1-ounce serving is equal to 24 almonds, 18 medium cashews or Brazil nuts, 35 peanuts or 15 pecan halves.
Fish for Protein
While working to reduce abdominal fat, you'll benefit from choosing fish more often than steak for protein. A study published in the "Journal of the American College of Cardiology" in March 2011 showed that people who eat a Mediterranean-style diet, which involves routine fish intake and very little red meat, guard against metabolic syndrome -- a group of heart disease risk factors, including abdominal obesity. Cold-water fish provides the added benefits of omega-3 fats, which help reduce inflammation. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish per week, particularly fatty varieties, such as mackerel, halibut and salmon.