Don’t forget the stems!

Don’t forget the stems!

So what’s the deal with popeye and spinach? Well according to a recent study out of Sweden’s Lund University there is a big weight-loss kick from eating this nutrient dense food. Now that I have your attention...

In this study a group of women were given a beverage containing 5g of spinach extract (made up mostly of the cell membranes from spinach stems) and another group was given a placebo, right before breakfast. The group who consumed the spinach lost 50% more weight, yes you read that right. 
So why did this massive increase happen? According to researchers it had to do with the calorie intake decrease and to a compound in spinach known as thylakoids which have been shown to reduce hunger and cravings for things such as sugary junk, sweet things and fast food by up to 95% (pass the spinach please)
How do they work? Thylakoids work by slowing down the digestion process, giving the intestinal hormones a chance to communicate that we are satiated. Now basically any green leafy vegetable is going to contain thylakoids. 
So next time you make a juice or shake make sure you include the stems! check out some of my juicing recipes under the recipe finder for my favourite recipes including spinach.
Before you jump onto the bandwagon you may want to consider a few things though. First off, don't buy into the supplement propaganda, it's BS, just eat the real whole food version. If you suffer from hypothyroidism you may want limit your intake of spinach and other foods that may interfere with thyroid function (also known as goitrogens).

Goitrogens inhibit iodine metabolism which when it comes to thyroid health is important   for the formation of thyroid hormone.  As a result, if iodine cannot be properly utilized by the thyroid gland, then the formation of thyroid hormone won’t take place. Not a good thing for someone with hypothyroidism, especially since they already have problems making thyroid hormone.

If you have a thyroid condition you may want to minimize your consumption of goitrogens, and in some cases completely avoid them, there is no question some goitrogenic foods are worse than others.  For example, other than their goitrogenic properties, the cruciferous vegetables are very healthy, and with the exception of when someone is in the beginning phase of a natural thyroid treatment protocol, I don’t think eating cruciferous vegetables on an occasional basis for someone with hypothyroidism is a bad thing. 

I hear many ask about soy, no thanks. I mean unfermented soy is a definite no but the fermented stuff could be ok in moderation for a healthy individual.The soy industry has done a great job of marketing soy as being healthy for us, a lot of research has proved otherwise.  

For those who don’t have a thyroid disorder you aren’t likely to develop one by consuming goitrogens, soy however is the exception to that statement as eating soy frequently can potentially lead to numerous health problems. 

Some of these foods are considered to be “mildly goitrogenic”.  For example spinach, strawberries, and peaches.  This is good news, you can have smaller doses, just don’t vamp up your shake daily with spinach, spinach and more spinach. Even a healthy person needs variety. What about cooking? Yes there has been some research that states cooking some of these foods may destroy the goitrogenic activity, still I don’t recommend going crazy on consumption.

-Brussels sprouts
-Collard greens
-Flax seed
-Mustard greens
-Pine nuts
-Sweet potatoes


The autoimmune protocol is a version of the Paleo diet (no grains, legumes or dairy) where a person also avoids the following:

-seeds (including cocoa, coffee, and seed-based spices)
-nighshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and the spices derived from them)
-excess fructose (more than 20g/day)
-potential gluten cross-reactive foods
-non nutritive sweeteners (including stevia)
-emulsifiers, thickeners, and other food additives

Now let's the myth surrounding goitrogens causing a goiter. According to Dr. Kharrazian  in his most recent article, goiters are not caused by iodine deficiency or by eating goitrogens – they are caused by the inflammation from chronic autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s). In order to get rid of a goiter, a person needs to address the autoimmune thyroid disease, not remove goitrogens from their diet.

While limiting these foods may be beneficial cutting them out can be a bad idea, especially since they are very nutritious foods. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and kale are known for their anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, turnips, and rutabaga provide a rich source of complex carbohydrate, which can be difficult to obtain on a grain-free diet. Cruciferous vegetables as well as sweet potatoes and strawberries contain carotenoids, which are precursors to vitamin A. In addition, a lot of the fruits and vegetables on this list are a good source of the B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and sulfur. By avoiding these foods, you may be setting yourself up for nutritional deficiencies.

Listen to your body, read the signs it is giving you. 


Studies on thylakoids


Study from pubmed

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