Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA): do you know what it is?

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA): do you know what it is?

CLA is one of the two essential and very potent fatty acids that help the body increase metabolic rates, boost the immune system, keep cholesterol levels in check, regulate fat and is shown to exert various important physiological functions in the body.

Health properties contained in conjugated linoleic acid perform vital  anti-carcinogenic, anti-obese, anti-diabetic and anti-hypertensive functions.

Recent studies have shown that adequate consumption of CLA protects against various cancers, including breast, colon, lung, skin and stomach cancer.

So now the question of Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA): do you know what it is?—is briefly answered. You know that it is essential for healthy bodies.

The next question to be answered is how do you get it?

Conjugated linoleic acid cannot be made in the human body. Therefore, humans must consume it.

The best sources are from beef and dairy. Some much lesser vegetable  sources include safflower and sunflower oils, mushrooms and pomegranates.

But not all beef and dairy sources are the same.

In 2009, the USDA and Clemson University researchers conducted an extensive comparison between grass-fed and grain-fed beef. They found that the CLA level in grass-fed beef was three to five times higher than that of beef fed on corn and soy.

That is because the natural diet for ruminants (cattle, etc.) is grass and grass-type hay. Their systems were not designed for grains.

The researchers also found that grass-fed beef was higher than grain-fed beef in beta carotene, calcium, magnesium, potassium and  vitamins E, K2 and B vitamins, as well as containing a perfect ratio of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

As examples, a serving of whole raw milk from grass-fed cows provides 20-30 grams of CLA compared to an equal amount of conventional pasteurized milk at 5.5 grams. The same difference is true for butter and cheese from grass-fed animals.

Unfortunately, most people cannot afford or obtain grass-fed animal products as our ancestors did. However, most people can obtain adequate amounts of CLA from conventional cheese, butter, yogurts and beef.

Conventional lamb contains the most CLA after beef, but all animal foods such as pork and chicken contain smaller amounts.

Strict vegetarians can also obtain CLA from some supplements. But it is very important that the supplements are high quality and processed in a way that extracts the maximum amount of CLA from the limited vegetable sources.

The complex bioactivity of conjugated linoleic acid was first discovered in 1987 by researchers who showed that it reduced body fat and helped fight cancer in mice. Since that time CLA has been extensively studied.

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