Food by VICE

Why Eating Spinach Can Make You Crave Pizza Less

A new double-blind study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition has found that thylakoid extract—a compound naturally found in spinach—can help you feel fuller faster, especially if you’re a dude.

by Javier Cabral
Aug 3 2015, 11:02pm

Here comes yet another reason to try to incorporate more veggies into your life. Strapping forearms aside, did you ever notice that for all those cans of spinach that 'ol Popeye ate, he was still as skinny as a rake?

A double-blind study published last week in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that thylakoid extract—a naturally occurring compound in spinach—can help you feel fuller faster, especially if you're a dude. (For what it's worth, a previous study demonstrated thylakoid's ability to stifle sugar cravings in women, too.)

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In this study, a total of 60 obese subjects—equally divided between men and women—were given either thylakoid or a placebo, which they took in random order at least a week apart. Their lipid and glucose levels were tested by taking blood samples immediately after consumption of the pills. Four hours later, they received another dose of the pills, but this time, accompanied by a "standard lunch."

Another four hours and various blood samples later, the subjects were offered pizza, and this is where the magic happened: The results showed that the male subjects who took the thylakoid "showed a trend toward decreased energy intake" compared to the rest of the female subjects who took placebo pills and showed no difference in enjoying a little bonus afternoon pizza snack.

While the report didn't specify why exactly thylakoids affect men and women differently, the study's co-author, Frank L. Greenway, did note that thylakoids might be "particularly useful for people with high blood pressure and associated weight problems."

But don't go and feast on a pile of spanakopita or on an entire bowl of spinach artichoke dip yet: You would have to eat a significant amount of spinach leaves to match the thylakoid extract pills that the study used in its research.

No word yet on what exactly this study's "standard lunch" consisted of, or whether the pizza was thin-crust or deep-dish.