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Massey Researchers Find a Plant Compound That Curbs Sugar Cravings

Millions of people are enjoying their lockdown period at home by indulging in creative activities like baking and cooking. Many of these are over-indulging in baking snacks and sugary treats. This over-indulgence and lack of exercise results in weight gain and worsened blood-glucose levels, especially in diabetic patients.

But a team of researchers at Massey University started investigating a plant compound that showed to curb some sugar cravings. The research began at an exciting note, as Associate Professor Ajmol Ali from the School of Sports, Exercise, and Nutrition was approached by celebrity personal trainer Harley Pasternak in the United States and the co-founder of Sweet Kick, to commission a study to measure the efficacy of the Sweet Kick product.

Sweet Kick has developed a mint product containing gymnemic acids extracted from the plant Gymnema Sylvestre, a woody perennial vine found in tropical Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, China, Africa, and Australia. The plant is used in Ayurvedic medicine and has the ability to suppress taste responses to sweet compounds and snacks.

The research

The study looked at the impact of taking the mint, which contains Gymnema Sylvestre, on people’s cravings and consumption of high-sugar content, as well as ratings of hunger and the pleasantness associated with eating more high-sugar foods. Sweets and sugary snacks contain a lot of calories, and it might be a little difficult to stop eating them once you start munching on them. In the long run, mindless consumption of sugary foods may lead to obesity and developing diabetes.

The significant finding was that the participants in the trial who consumed the Gynemna Sylvestre mind displayed a reduced intake of sugar food as compared to the placebo as the mint resulted in a decrease in the happiness and the cravings of eating high-sugar foods. Another significant finding was that having a sweet tooth resulted in a noticeable reduction in the desire for eating more sweet food after taking the Sweet Kick mint, compared to regular placebo mint. 

The result

According to Professor Ali, the mints work by suppressing the taste of sweet compounds without affecting other elements’ perception, essentially dulling the sugar receptors in the tongue. The compound Gymnema Sylvestre removes the sweetness—so if a person eats chocolate, it will only taste not very pleasant. 

The researchers claim that the findings demonstrate that consuming the Gymnema Sylvestre mint can help people to reduce their sugar consumption. The effect of the mint typically lasts for 30-60 minutes. It suppresses the taste receptors, so if you taste a biscuit during that time, it might taste similar to cardboard. It acts as a barrier to offsetting those sugar cravings and helping people to reduce their sugar intake. 

The study involved 58 participants from Auckland, and the team is working on a study that looks at how the mints work over 14 days. The team says that as we eat more added sugar than ever before, the mints have great potential to help people reduce their sugar consumption and sweet beverages and move to healthier options.

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