London: A spinach extract containing green leaf membranes can dramatically decrease cravings for unhealthy foods and increase weight loss, a new study has found.
The study at Lund University in Sweden found that the extract decreases hedonic hunger with up to 95 per cent and increases weight loss with 43 per cent.
Hedonic hunger is another term for the cravings many people experience for unhealthy foods such as sweets or fast food, a common cause of obesity and unhealthy eating habits.
The study shows that the intake of green leaf membranes, called thylakoids reinforces the body's production of satiety hormones and suppresses hedonic hunger, which leads to better appetite control, healthier eating habits and increased weight loss.
"Our analyses show that having a drink containing thylakoids before breakfast reduces cravings and keeps you feeling more satisfied all day," said Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, Professor of Medicine and Physiological Chemistry at Lund University.
The study involved 38 overweight women and ran for three months. Every morning before breakfast the participants had a green drink.
Half of the women were given 5 g of spinach extract and the other half, the control group, were given a placebo.
The participants did not know which group they belonged to - the only instructions they received were to eat a balanced diet including three meals a day and not to go on any other diet.
"In the study, the control group lost an average of 3.5 kg while the group that was given thylakoids lost 5 kg. The thylakoid group also found that it was easier to stick to three meals a day - and they did not experience any cravings," said Erlanson-Albertsson.
The key is the feeling of satiety and suppression of hedonic hunger versus homeostatic hunger that deals with our basic energy needs, the study said.
Modern processed food is broken down so quickly that the hormones in the intestines that send satiety signals to the brain and suppress cravings cannot keep up.
The green leaf membranes slow down the digestion process, giving the intestinal hormones time to be released and communicate to the brain that we are satisfied.