Data published in the journal Appetite indicated that women receiving the spinach extract lost an average of 5 kg over 12 weeks, compared to an average loss of 3.5 kg in the placebo group.
Researchers from Lund University in Sweden proposed that the green leaf membranes slow down the digestion process, thereby giving the intestinal hormones time to be released and communicate to the brain that we are satisfied.
Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, Professor of Medicine and Physiological Chemistry at Lund University and corresponding author on the study, said: “It is about making use of the time it takes to digest our food. There is nothing wrong with our digestive system, but it doesn’t work well with the modern ‘pre-chewed’ food. The thylakoids extend the digestion, producing a feeling of satiety and reducing hedonic hunger. This means that we are able to stick to the diet we are meant for without snacks and unnecessary foods like sweets, crisps and such.”
The study used the commercially available Appethyl spinach extract, which is available globally from Greenleaf Medical. Greenleaf Medical is a Swedish company with a US subsidiary. Prof Erlanson-Albertsson is a scientific advisor for Greenleaf Medical AB.
The Lund-based scientists recruited 38 overweight women aged between 40 and 65 and randomly assigned them to either the spinach extract group (5 grams per day) or placebo. The interventions were taken every day before breakfast for 12 weeks.
Results showed that the Appethyl group lost an average of 43% more body weight than the placebo group over 12 weeks, while total LDL cholesterol levels also decreased significantly in the spinach extract group, compared with placebo.
Additional data indicated that the thylakoid supplement was also associated with increased release of the satiety hormone GLP-1, and decreased urge for sweet and chocolate (a measure of hedonic hunger), compared with the control group.
There were no significant differences between the groups for waist circumference, body fat and leptin levels, which all decreased in both groups.
“Our analyses show that taking a drink containing thylakoids before breakfast reduces cravings and keeps you feeling more satisfied all day,” said Erlanson-Albertsson.
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.06.101
“Body weight loss, reduced urge for palatable food and increased release of GLP-1 through daily supplementation with green-plant membranes for three months in overweight women”
Authors: Montelius C., Erlandsson D., Vitija E., Stenblom E. L., Egecioglu E., Erlanson-Albertsson C.