The supervegetable that stops the urge to binge

Cravings for comfort foods like ice cream or chips endanger your waistline. But researchers in Sweden say that a common vegetable contains natural compounds that can ease your unreasonable hunger.

A study at Lund University in Sweden shows that spinach contains green leaf membranes called thylakoids that can lower the risk of cravings and binge eating by 95 percent. In the 3-month study, the thylakoids increased weight loss among overweight women by 43 percent.

Scientists call food cravings “hedonic hunger” because these desires are for unhealthy foods that are overly sweet and salty like cookies, ice cream and fast food. These cravings, warn the researchers, often lead to obesity and poor eating habits.

The Swedish study demonstrates that the thylakoids in spinach support the production of hormones that make you feel full and may eliminate hedonic hunger. That helps you control your appetite more effectively and focus on eating healthier foods. It can also help you lose weight.

“Our analyses show that having a drink containing thylakoids before breakfast reduces cravings and keeps you feeling more satisfied all day,” says researcher Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson who teaches medicine and physiological chemistry.

According to Erlanson-Albertsson, most of the food we eat today is processed so that it breaks down too quickly in the digestive tract. That means that we never feel full. But the spinach green leaf membranes can slow digestion down and let the brain interact with intestinal hormones that help us realize we’ve eaten enough.

“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 digestion, producing a feeling of satiety. 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,” says Erlanson-Albertsson.

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Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.