The next time you reach for your favorite piece of steak, you do not need to feel guilty! Do not worry about gaining weight, just dig in. Want to know why? That fresh piece of cow’s meat can actually help you in losing fat and provide protection against breast and colorectal cancer, heart diseases, diabetes and even osteoporosis.
All these benefits are due to the presence of a polyunsaturated fatty acid called ‘Conjugated Linoleic Acid’ or ‘CLA’. Fundamentally, CLA is an isomer of linoleic acid. The beneficial effects of CLA arise due to the arrangement of double bonds. The conjugated bonds present in its chemical structure collocates CLA as a trans fat. This fatty acid is different from the industrial trans fat that can be very harmful to human health.
CLA is mainly synthesized due to the action of rumen bacteria present in the guts of grass eating animals. Meat from ruminants and dairy products such as milk and cheese are primary sources of CLA. However, it is important to note that the percentage of CLA present in these food items depends mainly upon the diet which these animals eat. The commercialization in the arena of animal farming has prompted many farmers to feed animals with a diet containing soy and grains. On the other hand, animals that are raised in a more natural way within an organic environment, graze and feed on grass, grains and whatever they can find from their surrounding environment. The difference in the diet of commercial and dairy animals can actually make a huge difference in the measurement of CLA that can be found in their meat. The meat of grass-fed animals was found to contain 300% to 500% more CLA than the meat of animals raised and fed in industrial settings.
The same theory applies to the CLA found in supplements. This CLA is obtained from safflower and/or sunflower oil through a chemical treatment that alters the molecular bond. Unless you find a high-quality CLA supplement containing a potent, pure and significant dosage of CLA, derived from a significant source of CLA, certain supplements do not come close to providing the benefits that are obtained from natural CLA.
CLA and Your Obesity Problem
Studies done on animals have shown that natural CLA can greatly help in reducing weight by stimulating the breakdown of fats and burning excess calories quickly and efficiently. Additionally, it works by hindering the formation of fatty cells.
Human clinical studies have generated mixed results. Data from various studies indicate that weight loss can be anywhere between 0.02 pounds to 3 pounds per week. Some subjects, however, reported several side effects though to have suffered from constipation and others from diarrhea after continued use of CLA.
CLA and Health Problems
Individuals who consume a CLA rich diet can be sure that they are doing the very best to prevent chronic illnesses such as:
- Diabetes type 2
- Heart diseases such as atherosclerosis
- Cancers such as breast cancer, colon and rectal cancer
It is difficult to know exactly whether the various health benefits are due only to high percentage of CLA found in dairy animal’s meat because meat, from ruminant animals, is also high in vitamin K2, which is helpful in preventing heart diseases and other conditions. But one thing is for sure, it certainly doesn’t do any harm.
It is best to opt for the most natural sources of CLA. Whether through food or natural health supplements, remember, high grade and quality CLA counts.