Objective: By retarding fat digestion, thylakoids, the internal photosynthetic membrane system of green plants, promote the release of satiety hormones. This study examined the effect of consuming a single dose of concentrated extract of thylakoids from spinach on satiety, food intake, lipids, and glucose compared to a placebo.
Design: Sixty overweight and obese individuals enrolled in a double-blind randomized crossover study consumed the spinach extract or placebo in random order at least a week apart. Blood was drawn for assessments of lipids and glucose before a standard breakfast meal, followed 4 hours later by a 5 g dose of the extract and a standard lunch. Visual analog scales were administered before lunch and at intervals until an ad libitum pizza dinner served 4 hours later. Two hours after lunch a second blood draw was conducted. Mixed models were used to analyze response changes.
Results: Compared to placebo, consuming the spinach extract reduced hunger (p < 0.01) and longing for food over 2 hours (p < 0.01) and increased postprandial plasma glucose concentrations (p < 0.01). There were no differences in plasma lipids and energy intake at dinner, but males showed a trend toward decreased energy intake (p = 0.08).
Conclusions: At this dose, the spinach extract containing thylakoids increases satiety over a 2-hour period compared to a placebo. Thylakoid consumption may influence gender-specific food cravings.
Keywords: fat digestion; food cravings; satiety; spinach; thylakoids.