PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A small Swedish study has found that Popeye was right: spinach really is a superfood.

The research, which is published in the journal Appetite, reportedly included 38 overweight women. Every morning before breakfast for three months, the participants had a green drink. Half the women were give five grams of spinach extract and the other half were given a placebo. Participants were not aware of what group they were in, but they were all told to eat a balanced diet and consumer three meals a day. Snacking between meals was not permitted.

Scientists found that while the control group lost 3.5 kg, those who consumed the spinach extract lost 5 kg. Members of that group also said it was easier to stick to three meals a day and that they didn’t crave unhealthy food.

Experts from Lund University who ran the study say the key is that spinach takes awhile for the body to break down.

“The green leaf membranes slow down the digestion process, giving the intestinal hormones time to be released and communicate to the brain that we are satisfied,” they say in a press release.

Because the membranes, called thylakoids, actually extend the digestive process, those who consume them feel full and satisfied.

“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 study’s authors write.

You may also be interested in these stories:
[display-posts category=”news” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”5″]