Curbing sugar cravings with gymnema sylvestre mint

Tuesday, 04 August, 2020

Curbing sugar cravings with gymnema sylvestre mint

Researchers at Massey University, New Zealand, have studied a plant compound that shows a statistically significant reduction in sugar cravings; a timely discovery, as many indulge in sugary treats while confined to their homes due to COVID-19 restrictions. Associate Professor Ajmol Ali of the School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition was approached by Harley Pasternak, personal trainer and co-founder of company Sweet Kick, to commission a study on the efficacy of a Sweet Kick product.

Sweet Kick developed a mint product containing gymnemic acids from the gymnema sylvestre plant, a perennial woody vine native to tropical Asia, China, the Arabian Peninsula, Africa and Australia. The vine 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 involved 58 participants and investigated the impact of taking the mint 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 can contain a lot of calories and may be difficult to stop eating once you’ve started, according to Professor Ali, with long-term consumption leading to obesity or Type 2 diabetes.

Findings revealed that trial participants who consumed the gymnema 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. The study also found 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.

According to Professor Ali, the mint selectively suppresses taste responses to sweet compounds without affecting the perception of other taste elements, thereby dulling the sugar receptors in the tongue. “Gymnema sylvestre removes the sweetness — so if you eat chocolate, you’ll only get bitterness,” Professor Ali said.

Researchers are working on a second study, looking at how the mint works over a 14-day period.

Image credit: FarEnd 2018, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

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