If you’re interested in the fitness industry or you’ve explored ways to tone your body, you’ve more than likely come across an interesting supplement known as CLA. We’re taking a look at conjugated linoleic acid and the benefits it may have.
Most of the time we are told that fats are bad for us. In some cases, excessive amounts of fat can lead to a high intake of calories but not all fats are the same and they come in different forms.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a fatty acid found in meat and dairy products. It is believed to have a variety of health benefits ranging from the assistance of muscle building, fat loss as well as the prevention of health issues like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
What is CLA?
Linoleic acid is the most common omega-6 fatty acid. It can be found in large amounts in vegetable oils but is also in smaller amounts in various other foods.
“Conjugated” are how the double bonds in the fatty acid molecule are arranged. There are 28 different forms of CLA and all these forms are different based on the arrangement of the double bonds. These tiny little differences in the bonds make a massive difference to our body’s cells.
Technically CLA is a trans-fat but it’s a natural type of trans-fat that is found in many healthy foods. Trans-fats, also called trans-unsaturated fatty acids or trans-fatty acids, are a type of unsaturated fat.
They come in both natural and artificial forms. Trans-fats are naturally found in animal products like beef and dairy, but they’re also artificially manufactured in some products like vegetable oils, this is when they have serious health implications.
The unsaturated fats in vegetable oils usually oxidise as you heat them, in this form, they’re dangerous to your body’s tissues and can trigger inflammation. This is a risk factor for making your blood-vessel plaques unstable which can lead to a heart attack.
CLA is a natural kind of trans-fat so it can be beneficial to your health (in the right dosage) rather than having any negative consequences.
Can you get CLA from food?
CLA is mainly found in meat and dairy products from cows, goats and sheep. How much CLA is found in these animals varies depending on what the animals ate during their lifetime.
Let’s look at grass-fed cows, for example, the CLA content is 300–500% higher in beef and dairy from them in comparison to grain-fed cows.
Most people ingest CLA from their diets, but many people consume CLA supplements. It’s worth noting that the CLA supplements are made chemically and differ from the CLA found naturally.