(CNN) – It’s time for a gut check.
Too much fat around the midsection could be linked to heart disease, according to new guidelines from the American Heart Association.
Researchers say a protruding tummy may be a sign of visceral fat – a dangerous form of fat that wraps itself around organs deep inside the body.
Belly fat raises your risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and high cholesterol, research shows.
Experts think that’s because visceral fat makes more inflammatory proteins that can narrow blood vessels, raise blood pressure, and inflame tissues and organs.
Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say non-pregnant women with a waist size greater than 35 inches and men with a waist larger than 40 inches are at higher risk.
Experts recommend aerobic and strength training to reduce belly fat.
A well-balanced diet with less sugar and fewer processed foods also helps.