What is CLA?
In this article we will examine what is CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) and what foods supply us with CLA.
We will look into the history of CLA and how it is derived for dietary supplements.
What exactly is CLA?
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a slightly modified form of the Omega-6 fatty acid. Basically, if you took
the very curvy linoleic fatty acid, and made it straighter, you would have CLA. While our body produces over
100 fatty acid, there are 3 fatty acids the body can not make on its own - linoleic acid, arachadonic acid and linolinic
acid. Since these 3 fatty acids are essential to good health - they are called Essential Fatty Acids.
While CLA and linoleic acid have similarities on a molecular level, they are really very different fatty acids.
In fact, Linoleic acid, while essential to health, in excess can have negative effects (increased bad
cholesterol, increased fat deposits) on our health. Research
indicates that CLA is necessary to balance and offset some of the problems caused by excessive Linoleic Acid.
What is the history of CLA?
While CLA has been known since the 1930's, the real benefits of CLA started to be explored in 1987. The discovery
of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) as a healthy nutrient came somewhat by accident. Dr. Pariza, in 1978, was trying
to determine if cooking meat on a barbecue could be harmful to your health. Scientist had found that when fat
from meat dripped onto the charcoal coals a chemical called benzopyrene was released. The belief was that
Benzopyrene could settle on your food and be harmful.
Dr. Pariza decided to test if fat from cooking meat would
cause mutations of bacteria in a test tube. Interestingly, not only did the fat NOT cause mutations (feel free
to enjoy a good barbecued burger), it actually prevented mutations from appearing. Dr. Pariza spent much
of the next 9 years trying to isolate what element of the fat had these anti-mutation properties. Finally,
in 1987 he discovered that CLA was the element.
What foods contain CLA?
The highest concentrations of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) are found in beef, veal and certain dairy products.
To a lesser extent, CLA is also found in vegetable oils. The problem is that there has been a dramatic
decrease in the amount of CLA found in meat and dairy product. In 1963 scientist found that CLA was 2.81% of
milkfat. By 1992, CLA was only 1% of milkfat.
The reason for the decline of CLA in meat and dairy products is how our cattle are raised today. To increase
profits, most farmers use hybrid feed for the cattle, that does not rely heavily on natural grasses. Contrast this
to 40 years ago, when almost all cattle were fed with grasses. This change in the diet of the cattle has led to a
decrease in their CLA levels.
In addition, many Americans have moved away from eating red meats and fatty foods for health reasons. This change
in the American diet, means that most Americans are now deficient in CLA. This may be one of the primary reasons
that obesity has gone up as the fat in our diet has gone done.
How do I increase my CLA intake?
While eating more meats will increase you CLA levels, our cattle today is so deficient in CLA that you will
have to eat a lot of hamburgers to get the necessary CLA. You would need to consume 500g of fat, mostly
saturated, each day to get about three grams of CLA. We love hamburgers as much as the next person, but it is
clear that there are health risks with eating 500 grams of saturated fat everyday.
The best and easiest way to increase CLA levels is through CLA supplements. As we will describe in our article -
"Are all CLA supplements the same?" you need to be carefull when picking
a CLA supplement, but basically you want only 100% Tonalin™ brand CLA. In addition, if you want to take the same
amount used in the clinical studies on weight loss, you need a brand that will yield 1,000 mgs of active CLA
per capsule. Since CLA is always in a carrier oil, only 80% of the capsule will be active CLA. For this reason,
you need to take a 1285 mg capsule of CLA oil to yield 1000 mg of active CLA.
You didn't think we would write that whole paragraph without giving a plug for the CLA supplement we sell did
you? Seriously, we looked long and hard and truly believe that the CLA Edge is the best CLA supplement on the
If I do increase my CLA levels, what are the health benefits I will see?
Glad you asked! Everyone is all a buzz about the fat burning benefits of CLA, but what is so special about
CLA is that it also has number of other very significant health benefits.
And this brings us to our next article, The Health Benefits of CLA...
Questions? Email us at questions @ powersupplements.com
Copyright 2007, Power Discovery, LLC
Please consult with a health care professional before starting any supplementation program.
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