Can Tomatoes Help Shed Belly Fat?

By Erin Palinski, RD, CDE, LDN, CPT- Nutrition & Fitness Expert, Author “Belly Fat Diet for Dummies”

Although we may all desire a washboard stomach, having excess belly fat is much more damaging than just its impact on appearance. Belly fat is one of the most dangerous fats and can increase the risk for diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. Two of the main contributors to belly fat are inflammation and stress.

The link between belly fat and inflammation is unique. Chronic inflammation can increase storage of belly fat. But excessive fat, especially belly fat, can also increase inflammation. So, the more belly fat you have, the more inflammation you may have, leading to you storing even more belly fat!

So how can you reduce chronic inflammation? It appears that it may be as easy as consuming tomatoes on a regular basis. A recent study found that drinking a glass of tomato juice daily significantly decreased inflammation compounds in overweight and obese women. When inflammation is under control, not only will you have more energy and feel better overall, but you’ll also find that weight loss and reduction of belly fat both become easier!

In addition, tomatoes are rich in vitamin C which was found to reduce stress levels and return the hormone cortisol to normal levels after a stressful situation. When cortisol is elevated in the body, it has been shown to increase fat storage in the abdominal area. By eating foods rich in vitamin C, like tomatoes, regularly, you can help prevent increased belly fat storage caused by stress.

To help you fit in more tomatoes each day, try this great tomato-based recipe from my newly released book “Belly Fat Diet For Dummies” (Wiley, 2012).

Low-Calorie Chicken Parmesan

Prep time: 15 min  time: 35 min Yield: 4 servings


1 cup tomato paste

2 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon dried basil

Four 5-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Nonstick cooking spray

1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese


1       Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2       Make the tomato sauce by bringing the tomato paste to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add the minced garlic and olive oil, and allow it to simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3       In a large bowl, mix together whole-wheat bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and basil.

4       Spray each chicken breast with nonstick cooking spray. Dip each breast into the bread crumb mixture to cover, and then place into a glass casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

5       Pour the tomato sauce over the chicken breasts to coat evenly.

6       Place the dish in the oven, and bake for 25 minutes,

7       Open the over, remove the chicken, and sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly over the top of the chicken. Then place chicken back into the oven.

8       Cook chicken for another 10 minutes or until it reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Per serving:

Per Serving: Calories 323 Fat 12gm Saturated Fat 4gm, Cholesterol 92mg, Sodium 338mg, Carbohydrates 15gm, Fiber 2gm, Protein 40gm

Tip: To round out this nutritious meal, serve alongside vegetables and whole-grain pasta.


Erin is a nationally recognized nutrition and fitness expert who has contributed her expertise to national media outlets such as the CBS Early Show, ABC News, CBS News, News 12, Fox News, Fitness Magazine, Consumer Reports, Chicago Tribune, and Prevention Magazine. She runs a private practice in NJ and frequently serves as a media spokesperson, nutrition consultant, and speaker. She is the author of multiple publications including the upcoming “Belly Fat Diet for Dummies” (Wiley, release date October 2012) as well as the “Healthy ‘n Fit Pediatric Weight Management Program” and the “Healthy Resolutions Weight Management Program.”