Green vegetables such as spinach, curly kale and endive, and superfoods such as spirulina, chlorella and wheat grass all contain chlorophyll. If you consume a couple of grams chlorophyll every day, then losing weight is likely to be a little easier, according to a human study that researchers at the University of Lund published in Appetite. The Swedes gave 53 overweight women aged between 40 and 65 a daily 5 g of chlorophyll-containing thylakoids derived from spinach, and observed that this dramatically reduced their appetite for sweets and crisps.
Chlorophyll [structural formula at right] is a group of compounds that make plants green, and which plants use to convert sunlight into energy. Chlorophyll is located in chloroplasts in the cells of plants but also in cyanobacteria such as spirulina. And in the chloroplast the chlorophyll is housed in a thylakoid.
We consume chlorophyll every day in our food by eating veggies. For example: 100g fresh curly kale contains about 250-300 mg chlorophyll.
The Swedes have been experimenting for several years with thylakoid supplementation and suspect that chlorophyll inhibits the uptake of fat in the gut. This means that fats from food travel further along the digestive tract, and as a result stimulate the secretion of hormones that regulate the feeling of satiety such as CCK and GLP-1. [Appetite. 2013 Sep;68:118-23.]
For their study the Swedes asked their subjects to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, to eat vegetables with their meals and to restrict the amount of snacks between meals. Half of the subjects were given a supplement containing 5 g thylakoids 5 minutes before breakfast.
The thylakoids were manufactured by the Swedish company Greenleaf Medical. [gl-medical.com] Greenleaf’s spinach-thylakoid supplement is called Appethyl [logo at right]. Appethyl consists of 60 percent chlorophyll.
In the 12 weeks that the experiment lasted the subjects who had been given thylakoids lost more body fat than the subjects in the control group.
The researchers discovered that the supplementation reduced the urge for sweets and salty snacks.
As expected, thylakoids boosted the concentration of the appetite-suppressing hormone GLP-1. Furthermore, they also reduced the LDL, probably because thylakoids stimulate the body to make more bile. Bile is made from cholesterol.
“We demonstrate that consumption of chlorophyll containing parts ofgreen plants, in overweight patients results in significant weight reduction, and reduction in blood cholesterol together with a decreased urge for palatable food”, the Swedes conclude. “The mechanism suggests an increased meal-related GLP-1 release that sustained during the intervention period. Green-plant membranes may thus be a new agent for control of appetite and body weight.”
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.
The frequency of obesity has risen dramatically in recent years but only few effective and safe drugs are available. We investigated if green-plant membranes, previously shown to reduce subjective hunger and promote satiety signals, could affect body weight when given long-term. 38 women (40-65?years of age, body mass index 25-33?kg/m(2)) were randomized to dietary supplementation with either green-plant membranes (5?g) or placebo, consumed once daily before breakfast for 12 weeks. All individuals were instructed to follow a three-meal paradigm without any snacking between the meals and to increase their physical activity. Body weight change was analysed every third week as was blood glucose and various lipid parameters. On days 1 and 90, following intake of a standardized breakfast, glucose, insulin and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) in plasma were measured, as well as subjective ratings of hunger, satiety and urge for different palatable foods, using visual analogue scales. Subjects receiving green-plant membranes lost significantly more body weight than did those on placebo (p?< ?0.01). Mean weight loss with green-plant extract was 5.0?±?2.3?kg compared to 3.5?±?2.3?kg in the control group. Consumption of green-plant membranes also reduced total and LDL-cholesterol (p?0.01 and p?0.05 respectively) compared to control. Single-meal tests performed on day 1 and day 90 demonstrated an increased postprandial release of GLP-1 and decreased urge for sweet and chocolate on both occasions in individuals supplemented with green-plant membranes compared to control. Waist circumference, body fat and leptin decreased in both groups over the course of the study, however there were no differences between the groups. In conclusion, addition of green-plant membranes as a dietary supplement once daily induces weight loss, improves obesity-related risk-factors, and reduces the urge for palatable food. The mechanism may reside in the observed increased release of GLP-1.
PMID: 24993695 [PubMed – in process]