The One Oatmeal Topping You Need for a Flat Belly, Says Dietitian
As the weather cools off and summer blends into fall, there isn't anything quite like enjoying a warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning with your cup of coffee. Oatmeal is one of the best foods you can have for breakfast given that it helps you live longer, reduces inflammation in your body, and keeps you full for hours. But we all know that oatmeal without toppings is, well, kind of boring and bland. While there are many healthy oatmeal toppings to choose from, we had to ask ourselves: what is the best oatmeal topping that won't make you bloated and keep your belly flat all day long? The answer is probably exactly what you want to hear for the fall season: Pumpkin!
"Pumpkin is a good source of fiber making it a great addition to your oatmeal bowl any time of year not only for more staying power but also for optimal digestion," says Maggie Michalczyk, RDN, founder of OnceUponAPumpkinRD.com, and author of The Great Big Pumpkin Cookbook.
A quick science lesson: While eating high amounts of fiber at once can make you feel bloated, having good sources of fiber regularly in your diet can help with your body's overall digestion—and keeping your belly flat for the long term. Fiber helps to keep your digestive tract moving, supports good colon health, relieves constipation, and even lowers your risk of developing chronic diseases, according to the Mayo Clinic.
When consumed, fiber will actually combine with carbohydrates in the body and flushes it out of your system. The more foods with fiber you consume, the fewer carbohydrates your body will actually digest—and the lower your blood sugar levels will be.
Combining a good workout routine with regularly eating fiber can also help reduce belly fat, according to a study published by the research journal Obesity. Hence why fiber is considered The #1 Thing To Eat Every Day To Lose Weight For Good.
While the fiber in pumpkin can help with digestion and minimizing belly bloat, pumpkin can also benefit your body's health in other ways—like strengthening your immune system.
"In addition to fiber, [pumpkin] also provides more vitamin A, C, E, and potassium to your diet," says Michalczyk.
In particular, vitamin A in pumpkin is synthesized from beta-carotene—a plant pigment that gives off pumpkin's bright orange hue (along with other orange vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and more). Sure, vitamin A is essential for your eye health, but studies also prove all the ways this beneficial vitamin can help with strengthening your immunity.
Beta-carotene is also an antioxidant, which is important for reducing inflammation in your body and fighting off free radicals that increase your risk of developing diseases.
Between all of these health benefits, plus pumpkin's ability to reduce belly bloat and give you a flat belly, it makes for the perfect addition to your morning bowl of oatmeal.
Along with pumpkin, Michalczyk also recommends mixing in a few other additional toppings to improve your overall gut health.
"Top it all off with a drizzle of honey for an even more gut-healthy bowl because honey may function as prebiotics," says Michalczyk. "Prebiotics are food for the good bacteria aka probiotics in the gut. Getting enough of both is another important factor that impacts gut health and digestion."
Other nutritious toppings you can add to your pumpkin oatmeal include pepita seeds for a boost in magnesium (helps with muscle function), walnuts for an added source of polyunsaturated fats (good for brain health), or almonds for vitamin E (for immune function).
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