Spinach Extract Curbs Hunger and Sugar Cravings

If you have difficulty sticking to a diabetes-friendly diet because of constant hunger or sugar cravings, there is some interesting research being done in Sweden you may want to keep tabs on.

Researchers there discovered that thylakoids, compounds found in spinach and other green leafy plants, can help people feel fuller and curb their cravings for sweets.

The Thing About Thykaloids

Thylakoids are not obtained by eating spinach. They are extracted from spinach cells by crushing the leaves, filtrating, and centrifuging them. The result is a natural water extract containing thylakoids, galactolipids (fat), vitamins A, E, and K, proteins, antioxidants and more.

The Swedish investigators report that thylakoids slow down the digestion of fat. Slower fat digestion means the entire intestine has time to engage in the digestive process. This is important because when food reaches the distal (lower) intestine, satiety hormones are released. These hormones travel to the brain and let us know we are full.

The processed foods many of us eat today are digested primarily in the upper intestine. Because this food never makes it to the distal intestine, the “I’m full” hormones are not triggered and sent to pass on the message. So, even if we’ve eaten enough, we may not realize it.

“I like to say our intestines are unemployed,” said the lead Swedish researcher, Professor Erlanson-Albertsson. At the very least, our intestines are underemployed if we consume too many packaged products.

Putting Spinach Extract to the Test

The efficacy of thylakoids was tested when a group of research participants received a dose of spinach extract in the morning, while a control group received nothing. Those getting the extract reported having fewer cravings and being less hungry throughout the day. They also had an easier time limiting themselves to three meals each day than the control group subjects.

Blood drawn from the participants revealed the extract-taking participants had more satiety hormones in their bloodstream and enjoyed more stability in blood-sugar levels.

Source: Lund University

Photo credit: Robert Gourley on Flickr

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