Spinach Extract May Reduce Hunger and Caloric Intake

Candida J. Rebello and Dr. Frank Greenway Pennington Biomedical Research Center Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Candida J. Rebello

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Candida J. Rebello and
Dr. Frank Greenway
Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Appethylâ„¢ contains concentrated thylakoid membranes extracted from spinach leaves. By interacting with fats and slowing fat digestion thylakoid membranes promote the release of hormones that reduce feelings of hunger and keep consumers full for a prolonged period. In previous studies the spinach extract has been shown to promote reduction of body weight and fat mass (1-3). Studies have also shown that consuming the thylakoid membranes reduces the urge for chocolate and sweet foods in women (2) (4, 5). Research suggests that women tend to crave sweet foods whereas men prefer savory foods. Hence, thylakoids may influence reward mechanisms to promote an inhibition over eating, especially since some of the hormones released in response to delayed fat digestion influence areas of the brain that control reward-induced eating. Further, unlike pharmaceutical drugs such as orlistat, the spinach extract delays but does not prevent fat digestion. Therefore, the excretion of undigested fat which is an unpleasant side effect of these drugs is avoided. Thus, the effect of the extract on reducing the desire to eat is of great interest, especially if its effects are mediated in part through the reward system. Reward mechanisms can be activated outside of conscious control. In the current food environment which is rife with enticing food choices, reward-induced eating assumes importance.

The main findings of the study are that consuming 5 g of the spinach extract reduced hunger and increased fullness over a two hour period. Males in the study ate 126 kcal less under the thylakoid condition compared to the placebo.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Body weight could be controlled by consciously balancing food intake and energy expenditure. However, the biological system that controls this balance resists weight change partly by regulating the unconscious drive to eat. Therefore, an individual making a conscious effort will lose weight in the short term by reducing food intake, increasing energy expenditure or by doing both. But, the strong biological resistance to weight loss and predisposition to weight regain confers a powerful, unconscious impulse to eat more until the individual returns to his or her starting weight. Therefore foods that contain ingredients to overcome the biological and environmental factors that promote overeating can be of great help to people attempting to adhere to a diet regimen.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The results of this study add to the evidence from previous studies that the spinach extract may act on the reward system. Further, over a period of three months a previous study showed that subjects consuming the thylakoids lost approximately 11 pounds whereas those consuming the placebo lost 7.7 pounds, when both groups were given the same instructions on diet and physical activity (2). However, both these effects of the thylakoids need further validation in future studies.


  1. Emek SC, Szilagyi A, Akerlund HE, Albertsson PA, Kohnke R, Holm A, et al. A large scale method for preparation of plant thylakoids for use in body weight regulation. Preparative biochemistry & biotechnology. 2010;40(1):13-27.
  2. Montelius C, Erlandsson D, Vitija E, Stenblom EL, Egecioglu E, Erlanson-Albertsson C. 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. Appetite. 2014.
  3. Kohnke R, Lindqvist A, Goransson N, Emek SC, Albertsson PA, Rehfeld JF, et al. Thylakoids suppress appetite by increasing cholecystokinin resulting in lower food intake and body weight in high-fat fed mice. Phytother Res. 2009;23(12):1778-83.
  4. Stenblom EL, Egecioglu E, Landin-Olsson M, Erlanson-Albertsson C. Consumption of thylakoid-rich spinach extract reduces hunger, increases satiety and reduces cravings for palatable food in overweight women. Appetite. 2015;91:209-19.
  5. Stenblom EL, Montelius C, Erlandsson D, Skarping L, Fransson M, Egecioglu E, et al. Decreased Urge for Palatable Food After a Two-month Dietary Intervention with Green-plant Membranes in Overweight Women. Obesity and Weight Loss Therapy. 2014;4(4):238.

Candida J. Rebello, Jessica Chu, Robbie Beyl, Dan Edwall, Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, Frank L. Greenway. Acute Effects of a Spinach Extract Rich in Thylakoids on Satiety: A Randomized Controlled Crossover Trial. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2015; 1 DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2014.1003999

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Candida J. Rebello and Dr. Frank Greenway (2015). Spinach Extract May Reduce Hunger and Caloric Intake 

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