Science and market build for spinach extract for weight management

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Image: © iStockPhoto / Laura Clay-Ballard
Image: © iStockPhoto / Laura Clay-Ballard

Related tags Nutrition Photosynthesis

A new spinach-based dietary supplement may cut hunger and increase the feeling of fullness, says a new study using the Appethyl-branded ingredient.

The study, performed by scientists at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, included 60 overweight and obese participants randomly assigned to consume either Appethyl or a placebo with a meal.

A single 5 gram dose of the spinach extract was associated with significant reductions in feelings of hunger and longing for food, and had less desire for salty and savory foods, according to findings published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition​.


Appethyl is described as an all-natural spinach extract enriched for thylakoids, the cellular membranes in plants which are found in chloroplasts where photosynthesis takes place. Thylakoids are reported to work by slowing fat digestion, which in turn increases the body’s production of hormones that lead to a satisfied feeling.

Jim Roufs, Appethyl’s US scientific advisor, told NutraIngredients-USA that Appethyl is available exclusively through Greenleaf Medical, a Swedish company who has licensed the technology exclusively from the University of Lund. 

The ingredient is currently available in “at least three products – one in food, drug & mass, one in the MLM channel, and one via the internet – with a few more being introduced shortly”​, added Roufs.

The new study was funded by a grant partnership with Greenleaf Medical.

Supporting science

Roufs told NutraIngredients-USA that there are now eight completed clinical trials involving the ingredient; two pilot more proof-of-concept trials, three acute crossover trials (of which, the Pennington trial is one); and two chronic weight loss trials.

Scales © ElMiguelacho
Image: © iStockPhoto / ElMiguelacho

“Both of the chronic weight loss trials lasted 12 weeks and both demonstrated significantly greater weight loss in those ingesting Appethyl with one showing 43% greater weight loss compared to controls, while the other showed 51% greater weight loss compared to placebo group,” ​said Roufs.

“It may be worth emphasizing that the 12 week trial that demonstrated a 43% greater weight loss than control group also showed an up to 85% reduction in cravings for unhealthy foods such as sweets and chocolates after just one dose, an effect which was maintaining after ingesting the product daily for 90 days subjects experience up to a 95% reduction in cravings for these same unhealthy foods on day 90 and again compared to placebo.

“These five 'efficacy' trials (3 acute and 2 chronic trials) all support a 5 g per day dose while the eighth trial used a dose of 5.6g and even though it demonstrated significant reductions in cravings similar to other trials, we do not emphasize it since it is different than the dose being recommended (ie, 5g),” ​he added.


According to the Pennington scientsts, the concentrated thylakoids interact with lipids and slow the digestion of fat. The compounds also promote the release of satiety hormones such as cholecystokinin and reduce the hunger stimulating hormone ghrelin, they said.

“I believe that Appethyl is special,” ​said Dr Frank Greenway, lead researcher on the study and chief medical officer of Pennington Biomedical’s Outpatient Clinic. “It is a safe food made from spinach that decreases hunger and decreases desire for salt, both key attributes that could be beneficial for people trying to maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure.”

Source: Journal of the American College of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1080/07315724.2014.1003999
“Acute Effects of a Spinach Extract Rich in Thylakoids on Satiety: A Randomized Controlled Crossover Trial”
Authors: C.J. Rebello, J. Chu, R. Beyl, et al. 

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