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1. Helps with Weight Loss and Fat-Burning
People find it hard to believe, but it turns out butter is a fat-burning food. CLA has shown to help fat loss in many animals and human studies when in its concentrated form it’s one of the most popular weight loss supplements in the world. According to a 2009 report that was published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, it is believed that CLA reduces fat because of its impact on, energy metabolism, adipogenesis, inflammation, lipid metabolism, and apoptosis.
Supplementation with a CLA mixture or the isomer alone decreases body fat mass, according to a result of numerous animal studies. Within the two major isomers, 10,12 specifically seems to be responsible for the antiobesity effects of CLA.
Within human studies, the results for CLA on weight loss have been auspicious. One study found that supplementation of a CLA mixture in overweight and obese people with three to four grams a day for about 24 weeks decreased body fat mass and increased the lean body mass.
Some people believe that they experience better results than others due to the fact they include CLA isomer combination rather than individual isomers, CLA dose and duration of treatment, gender, weight, age and metabolic status of the subjects. One possible potential mechanism by which CLA reduces body fat mass might be that it will decrease energy intake or increases energy expenditure. A study that was demonstrated that mice supplemented with a CLA mixture for four weeks reduced their food intake and experienced liver function improvements, although studies are still happening in humans.
2. Regulates Blood Sugar and Helps Improve Insulin Function
There’s substantial evidence that an inverse association exists between CLA intake in someone’s diet and diabetes risk. The theory is that CLA may be involved in insulin regulation. We also know that the best food sources with CLA, include healthy fats like butter or grass-fed beef, which can stabilize blood sugar and help someone stick to a low-sugar, low-carb diet that is very beneficial for controlling diabetes.
3. Improves Immune Function and Could Potentially Help Fight Cancer
Conjugated lipoic acid has shown immune-enhancing effects and anticarcinogenic activities in several animal studies. CLA that is in saturated fatty foods could offset the adverse effects of the saturated fat content and benefit everything from blood sugar control to hormone regulation to even natural cancer prevention.
Researchers repeatedly found that the quality of fatty acids in someone’s diet is exceedingly important for reducing overall cancer risk, and conjugated linoleic acids have proved to increase the health in several ways, especially lowering inflammation. Lower inflammation is a sign of less free radical damage or oxidative stress, and that is linked to lower cancer risk.
CLA modulates immune and inflammatory responses as well as improve bone mass. Researchers found the effects of conjugated linoleic acid for preventing breast cancer is somewhat conflicting, but early research shows that higher intake of CLA from natural foods is linked with a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Other study results indicate that it can be very beneficial for fighting cancer of the digestive organs and can improve detoxification via healthier liver function too.
4. Reduces Allergies and Asthma Symptoms
Consuming CLA from food or taking CLA supplements for 12 weeks seems to improve symptoms and overall health in people with seasonal allergy symptoms. Some research shows that people with asthma could use CLA to be a natural treatment method for asthma-related symptoms. Twelve weeks of supplementation seems to improve airway sensitivity and better cardio.
5. Improves Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Early research has been showing that CLA is beneficial for lowering inflammation and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Taking CLA alone or along with other supplements like vitamin E benefits those with arthritis by reducing symptoms, including pain and morning stiffness. Pain and inflammation including swelling have been improved for adults with arthritis taking CLA compared to their pre-treatment symptoms or people not taking CLA, meaning CLA can naturally treat arthritis.
6. Improve Muscle Strength
Some researchers found that taking conjugated linoleic acid alone or along with supplements like creatine and whey protein can help increase strength and improve lean tissue mass. This is why CLA is added to some bodybuilding supplements, protein powders or weight loss formulas.
Best Sources of Conjugated Linoleic Acid
According to a report published in The Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, the top food sources of CLA include:
- Butter from grass-fed cows (ideally organic)
- Full-fat, preferably raw, dairy products like cream, milk, yogurt or cheese
- Grass-fed beef (preferably organic)
- Also found in dairy products from sheep or goats, in addition to cows
- Found in smaller amounts in grass-fed lamb, veal, turkey and seafood
- The proportion of CLA ranges from 0.34–1.07 percent of the total fat found in dairy products, making it the highest source which is followed by about 0.12—0.68 percent of the total fat in raw or processed beef products. Although, when it comes to animal products, the breed and the in particular quality of the animal’s diet and lifestyle affect the fat that you will obtain when you eat the animal. In other words, not all beef or dairy is created equal when it comes to supplying us with healthy fats.
What the animal was eating and the conditions it was living in highly affect how much CLA and other healthy fats or nutrients it supplies. Even the season, quality of the soil on the farms and age of the animal affect the CLA content. For example, one study found that the CLA content in beef and dairy from grass-fed cows is 300–500 percent higher compared to grain-fed cows!
Grass-fed beef contains much higher levels of CLA and even more omega-3 fats and vitamins than meat from factory farm-raised animals. The same goes for dairy products we get from cows, such as cream or butter. The best way to find high-quality grass-fed beef is to purchase it directly from small town farms, whether visiting farmer’s markets, joining a community-sponsored agriculture group or even looking online. If you can’t find the perfect product, for example, 100 percent organic and grass-fed beef, do the best you can while also focusing on limiting industrial and human-made fats from your diet.