Spinach Extract May Curb Hunger and Cravings

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spinachThis article originally appeared on Live in the Now.

Once again, scientific evidence shows solutions to health problems may lie in natural compounds within food. A study finds spinach extract can help with weight control because it increases satiety, which is a feeling of fullness and the absence of hunger. The discovery is the latest of a number of wellness benefits that research has linked to the consumption of this incredibly nutritious vegetable.

Spinach Increased Satiety Two Hours

In an experiment published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, scientists assessed the effect of a single dose of spinach compounds called thylakoids on satiety. The participants in the double blind randomized crossover study were a group of 60 overweight or obese people, of whom half were male and half were female. They were tested on two days that were at least one week apart. On one occasion the group took the thylakoid extract, while on the other occasion they took a placebo.

Breakfast, lunch and supper were provided on both days. The response of the participants was evaluated through blood tests, along with a visual analog scale, a tool that measured their attitude toward food. The researchers found the spinach extract containing the thylakoids decreased hunger and longing for food over two hours compared to a placebo.

Researcher Frank L. Greenway, M.D., said, “The reduction in hunger and the desire for salty food that we saw in this study might make thylakoids particularly useful for people with high blood pressure and associated weight problems.”

What Does Earlier Research Show?

Prior studies have shown thylakoids found in green plants like spinach can aid in weight control through more than one mode of action. They suppress a hunger hormone as well as delay fat digestion, a benefit that boosts the production of satiety hormones.

Earlier research on animals found spinach extract containing thylakoids significantly reduced body weight and percentage of body fat. Moreover, a 2014 study on overweight women discovered that 5 grams of the extract taken daily for three months produced a 43 percent greater reduction in body weight compared to a placebo. Thylakoids may also reduce gender-specific food cravings, as another study showed they diminished the urge for sweets in women.

The Advantage of Spinach Over Drugs that Inhibit Fat Digestion

A class of drugs used to treat obesity works by preventing the digestion of fat, an action that causes the unpleasant side effect of undigested fat excretion. Conversely, spinach extract temporarily delays fat digestion rather than prevents it, an advantage that makes it superior to the drugs.

How Else Does Spinach Benefit Health?

Let us count the ways. Aside from helping with weight control, spinach has an array of other health benefits. Studies have revealed it reduces the risk of colon cancer, improves muscle tone, prevents varicose veins, speeds reflexes, strengthens bones and keeps the mind sharp. Spinach is probably one of the most healthful vegetables to include in the diet.

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