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5 Best Leafy Greens To Lose Belly Fat and Slow Aging

Who knew eating your veggies could make you look this good?
FACT CHECKED BY Jordan Powers Willard

Incorporating the right foods into your diet can do wonders for both your waistline and appearance. Although experts haven't been able to pinpoint exactly how to slow aging, current research shows that foods packed with antioxidants and essential fatty acids can play a role in helping you look and feel younger.

Loaded with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids, leafy greens are a great addition to your daily eating routine because they can support belly fat loss while also helping you maintain a youthful glow.

Leafy greens are chock-full of free radical-fighting antioxidants that can help slow cellular aging, which may help prevent the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The antioxidants in leafy greens may also be behind the vegetables' ability to lower the risk of the chronic inflammation that has been linked to health conditions like diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular issues, a number of eye diseases, and several forms of cancer.

Another way leafy greens may play a role in the aging and belly fat-accumulating process is through their concentration of plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acids.

"Essential fatty acids play a role in our health both internally and externally. They improve heart health, joint health, and digestion while also giving the skin a bright glow and healthy appearance," says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, a registered dietitian at Balance One. "Dark, leafy greens, in particular, contain omega-3 fats along with beneficial phytonutrients that act as antioxidants in the body," she adds.

Eat This, Not That! consulted a handful of registered dietitians to get the lowdown on the top five leafy greens that can keep you looking young for years to come and reduce belly fat in the process. Some of these vegetables even rank among the 5 Best Leafy Greens You Should Be Eating Every Day.


Plate of spinach

Due to the many health benefits associated with eating spinach, dietitians continue to promote this vegetable as an effective, natural way to look younger while staying one step ahead of stomach fat.

"Spinach is great for not only helping you lose belly fat, but it can also help your skin look healthier and younger," says Jesse Feder, RDN, CPT, at My Crohns and Colitis Team. "[This leafy green] is packed with fiber and very low in calories. This combination can help you feel fuller for longer all while reducing the amount of calories you eat. Additionally, spinach has vitamins A, C, and K in it, which can all contribute to healthier, younger-looking skin."


bowl of kale

If you need a leafy green guaranteed to keep you full while enhancing your looks via anti-aging properties, you can't go wrong with kale. An excellent way to avoid excessive hunger that can lead to a wider stomach, this wonder vegetable goes above and beyond to support your overall health.

"Kale is […] a vitamin C and iron powerhouse, similar to spinach," says Mascha Davis, MPH, RDN, and author of Eat Your Vitamins: Your Guide to Using Natural Foods to Get the Vitamins, Minerals, and Nutrients Your Body Needs. "Kale contains vitamin A, a compound found in numerous anti-aging products shown to encourage healthy cell growth. Plenty of vitamin A may help reduce wrinkles and pigmentation throughout aging."

The fiber in kale enables you to sustain feeling full for longer. That said, eating enough kale throughout the day can potentially reduce temptation from other less healthy food choices that counter weight loss efforts and even age you faster.

 Secret Effects of Eating Kale, Says Science


fresh watercress

Similar to kale, watercress is enriched with nutrients, and eating enough of this low-calorie lettuce can fill you up without increasing the amount of fat around your belly.

"As a lesser known leafy green vegetable, watercress is nutrient-packed with vitamins A, B, C, and K," says Davis. "Both the stem and the leaf of this vegetable are edible and beneficial for healthy aging. Studies also support that watercress may be linked to a reduced risk of DNA damage and cancer."

If you need a leafy green that can deter the effects of aging on your physical appearance and keep you looking good, make sure to make a few more salads with this essential bit of produce.

Swiss Chard

swiss chard

Many leafy greens can facilitate weight loss, particularly in your midsection, courtesy of their high amounts of fiber and ability to fill you up. However, Swiss chard has a secret weapon that makes it one-of-a-kind.

"Swiss chard is rich in beta-carotene, which acts as an antioxidant in the body," explains Davis. "The body converts this to vitamin A for the skin growth and repair process."

Eating an extra bit of Swiss chard can't hurt, especially as you get older. Ranking among the five best veggies to eat after turning 50, it's a must-have addition to your diet as you continue progressing through each stage of life.


fresh arugula in bowl

When you need to whip up a quick salad that can help retain your vibrant, youthful appearance and snatch your waistline, don't skimp on the arugula.

"Arugula provides nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium," says Davis. "Along with high levels of vitamins C, A, and folic acid, arugula is a great source of antioxidants and carotenoids. It also contains glucosinolates, natural compounds responsible for the bitter taste of arugula and may aid in reducing cancer risk."

Next time you're on the fence about whether or not to add some of this leafy green into your life, take Davis' recommendation and eat a bit of arugula to look slimmer and younger.

Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more about Erich