Does Conjugated Linoleic Acid Work
Does Conjugated Linoleic Acid Work?
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a fat found in milk, cheese and meats, particularly beef. It is thought that this particular type of fat is made in the stomachs of plant-eating animals and found in their flesh and milk.
It may seem an unlikely candidate for a health food supplement, but conjugated linoleic acid has attracted much attention since a study in the late 1970’s suggested that grilled ground beef had both a destructive and a protective substance in it.
Benefits of Conjugated Linoleic Acid
The protective substance was shown to be conjugated linoleic acid. Studies on rats and mice have shown a wide range of potential health benefits from conjugated linoleic acid. It is said to have anticancer and antioxidant properties, the ability to improve muscle/fat ratio, and the ability to keep arteries clear by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
Animal studies have shown that conjugated linoleic acid may protect against bone loss, protect certain organs from cancer and regulate gene expression. It may even prevent obesity and muscle wasting.
The animal studies beg the question: Does conjugated linoleic acid work in the same way in humans? So far, no definitive studies demonstrate that the effects on mice and rats can be reproduced in humans.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid Risks
Since CLA is found mostly in foods that contain high amounts of saturated fat, anyone eating a diet rich in conjugated linoleic acid risks the many health problems associated with a high fat diet. For this reason, supplements of CLA have become popular, though the effectiveness and safety of such products remains in question.
The problem is that there are about twenty different forms of CLA, and it is difficult to determine which form is responsible for the health benefits seen in animal studies and which may actually cause harm.
For humans, conjugated linoleic acid risks may include increased insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes) and increased blood fat oxidation (which can lead to heart disease).
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