The primary role of fats is to offer energy, but healthy fats like CLA are believed to offer several other health benefits. Linoleic acid is the most common omega-6 fatty acid, and “conjugated “ prefix signifies the arrangement of the double bonds in the fatty acid molecule. It is technically a trans fat but a natural type, which is different from the industrial trans fats (which are harmful).
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a form of polyunsaturated, omega-6 fat naturally present in dairy foods, grass-fed animals and meat from cows, goats and sheep. The CLA content varies depending upon the feed of the animal. It has been observed that people with a good intake of these sources have improved metabolic health.
The physiological effects of CLA lie in the difference between the isomers and their bonds, there are 28 forms of CLA. Its effect on health arises from interactions between two isomers: c-9 (cis), t-11(trans) CLA (anticarcinogenic) and t-10, c-12 CLA- anti-diabetic, anti-obese, anti-carcinogenic.
CLA and Immunity
It enhances the immunity and protects the tissues from collateral damage, by altering the effects of cytokine, interleukin, leukotriene and other immunoglobulins. Another study found out that Arginine CLA was more than that of CLA with its antioxidant activity similar to vitamin E.
CLA and Heart Disease
It is believed that CLA has anti-atherosclerotic properties and may improve the blood lipid profile by reducing the triglycerides and improving HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) or the good cholesterol levels that promote healthy heart function.
CLA and Cancer
Consumption of CLA rich milk products has an inverse relationship between intake of milk, milk products and breast cancer or colorectal cancer among women. It is because the anti-carcinogenic properties of CLA include interference in cell signalling pathways, inhibition of DNA synthesis, promotion of apoptosis and modulation of eicosanoid production.
CLA and Diabetes
Few studies have examined the anti-diabetic properties of CLA in humans, supplementation of 3.4g/day for 12 weeks with both mixed and purified 9 and 10 CLA isomers were given. The underlying effect was unclear, it was considered that it might enhance insulin sensitivity.
CLA and Obesity
It has been recognised that CLA may have an anti-obesity effect and improve body composition. In a review study in humans, CLA was linked to a modest reduction in body fat and prevention of regaining fat in overweight individuals.
The potential mechanisms for weight loss include appetite suppression, increased energy expenditure and inhibits adipogenesis while regulating lipid oxidation. A dosage of minimum 3g on a daily basis is necessary to get weight loss effects.
Therefore, positive effects for weight management may be recognised. Although, more research is needed to gain a conclusive perspective on the potential protective effect of CLA in humans.
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