Study reveals plant compound beats sugar cravings

Summary: A mint product that contained gymnemic acids from the Gymnema sylvestre plant significantly reduced the intake of high-sugar sweet foods compared to a placebo. For those with a sweet tooth, the mint significantly decreased the pleasantness and desire for eating more sugar-rich foods. The product may be useful in helping people reduce sugar consumption.

Source: Massey University

With millions of people around the world still confined to their homes due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, many have reported over-indulging in home-baking, snacks and sugary treats, potentially leading to increases in body weight.

But researchers at Massey University may have found a solution by investigating a plant compound that showed a statistically significant reduction in sugar cravings.

Associate Professor Ajmol Ali of the School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition was approached by Harley Pasternak, a celebrity personal trainer in the United States and co-founder of the company Sweet Kick, to commission a study on the efficacy of the Sweet Kick product.

Sweet Kick developed a mint product containing gymnemic acids from the plant gymnema sylvestre, a perennial woody vine native to tropical Asia, China, the Arabian Peninsula, Africa and Australia. It has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine and its name in Hindi is “sugar destroyer” for its ability to suppress taste responses to sweet compounds.

The study aimed to investigate the impact of taking the mint, which contains gymnema sylvestre, on people’s desire and consumption of high-sugar sweet foods, as well as ratings of hunger and pleasantness of eating more high-sugar sweet foods. Sweet foods contain a lot of calories, taste good and may be difficult to stop eating once you’ve started, according to Professor Ali.

“Long term, mindless consumption of high sugar sweet foods may lead to obesity or developing Type 2 diabetes.”

The key finding was that trial participants who consumed the gynemna sylvestre mint showed a significantly reduced intake of high-sugar sweet foods compared to the placebo, as the mint resulted in a decrease in the pleasantness and desirability rating of eating high-sugar sweet foods.

Another key finding was that having a sweet tooth (relative to a non-sweet tooth) resulted in a significant decrease in pleasantness and desire for eating more high-sugar sweet food after taking the Sweet Kick mint, compared to the placebo mint.

Professor Ali says the mint works by “electively suppressing taste responses to sweet compounds without affecting the perception of other taste elements, essentially dulling the sugar receptors in your tongue. Gymnema sylvestre removes the sweetness—so if you eat chocolate, you’ll only get bitterness.”

This shows the plant
The key finding was that trial participants who consumed the gynemna sylvestre mint showed a significantly reduced intake of high-sugar sweet foods compared to the placebo, as the mint resulted in a decrease in the pleasantness and desirability rating of eating high-sugar sweet foods. Image is credited to FarEnd 2018.

Professor Ali says the findings demonstrate that consuming the gymnema sylvestre mint has the potential to help people reduce their sugar consumption. “The effect of the mint typically lasts 30-60 minutes, and, for example, if you taste a biscuit in that time, it might taste like cardboard! The point being, it’s like a barrier or way of offsetting that sugar craving and helping people to wean their sugar intake.

“We are eating more added sugar than ever before, so this compound has great potential to help people reduce their high consumption of sugary food and beverages and move to healthier options. When the treats stopped tasting good, people ate less.”

The study involved 58 participants from the Auckland region and the researchers are working on a second study, looking at how it works over a 14-day period.

About this neuroscience research article

Source:
Massey University
Media Contacts:
Press Office – Massey University
Image Source:
The image is credited to FarEnd 2018, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

Original Research: Open access
“Consuming Gymnema sylvestre Reduces the Desire for High-Sugar Sweet Foods”. by Sophie Turner et al.
Nutrients doi:10.3390/nu12041046

Abstract

Consuming Gymnema sylvestre Reduces the Desire for High-Sugar Sweet Foods

Background.
Gymnemic acids, from the plant Gymnema sylvestre (GS), selectively suppress taste responses to sweet compounds without affecting the perception of other taste elements. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of consuming a GS-containing mint on the desire to consume high-sugar sweet foods directly thereafter.

Methods.
This study utilized a single-blind, crossover design comparing the consumption of a mint (dissolving tablet) containing 4 mg of gymnemic acids with an isocaloric placebo in 56 healthy young men and women. Participants were given samples of their favourite chocolate (varied between 14–18 g; energy varied between 292–370 kJ) and were directed to rate on their hunger on 100-mm visual analogue scales 30 s prior to consuming high-sugar sweet food (chocolate). They then consumed the GS mint or placebo mint and rated their perceived pleasantness and desire for more chocolate on separate visual analogue scales immediately following consumption of the high-sugar sweet food before being offered up to five additional servings (and asked to rate hunger, pleasantness and desire to eat more chocolate between each ingestion period).

Results.
The number of chocolate bars eaten decreased by 0.48 bars (21.3%) within a 15-min period of consumption of the GS mint (p = 0.006). Desire to eat more of the high-sugar sweet food (p = 0.011) and pleasantness of the high-sugar sweet food (p < 0.001) was reduced after GS mint intake. Those who reported having a ‘sweet tooth’ had a greater reduction in the pleasantness of chocolate (p = 0.037) and desire to eat more (p = 0.004) after consuming the GS mint for the first serving of a high-sugar sweet food following the mint.

Conclusion.
Consuming gymnema-containing mints compared to placebo significantly reduced the quantity of chocolate eaten mainly due to a decrease in the desire and pleasantness of consuming it.

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