(NaturalNews) CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, wasn't discovered until 1979 when researchers applied a beef extract to the skin of mice that were also exposed to a potent toxin. After a 16-week period, the group of mice with the beef extract had 20 percent fewer tumors than those without. Nine years later, in 1987, the identity of that powerful anti-carcinogen was revealed.
CLA is actually a trans fatty acid, but unlike other trans fatty acids that are detrimental to the body, CLA possesses anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, heart health and body-fat reduction properties. The difference has to do with the conjugated system of CLA which, for nutritional purposes, means it is not counted as a trans fat. The healthy fat, which naturally occurs in high quantities in meat and dairy products, is particularly noted for it effects on body composition.
In healthy people, CLA can help maintain low levels of body fat, while simultaneously conserving muscle tissues. A 2007 meta analysis published in the American Clinical Journal of Nutrition concluded that ingesting 3.2 grams of CLA per day had a significant effect on fat loss; about one pound over five weeks. A 2007 issue of American Society for Nutrition found that CLA increased fatty acid utilization during sleep. CLA has even been studied for its effects on breast cancer. A 2009 study published in Nutrition and Cancer found that the fatty acid impaired the growth of breast cancer tissues and liposarcoma cells.
Instead of supplementing CLA, eat grass-fed beef and drink raw milk
Although some may consider CLA's effect on weight loss modest, its safety (in its supplemental form) and its all-around health promoting properties make it an optimal choice for those interested in supplementing a healthy diet and exercise routine for improved results. It should be noted that CLA works best on individuals who exercise regularly, as pointed out by a 2002 study titled "Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat in healthy exercising humans." Despite the fact that most studies done use about 3.2 grams of supplemental CLA, dietary sources of CLA provide the same advantages and are likely even more beneficial in their natural state.
To get the highest levels of CLA from meat and dairy products, these foods must be obtained from grass-fed cattle. Organic, grass-fed beef is much higher in CLA than feedlot beef, as grass-fed cows posses three to five times as much CLA as grain-fed cows. By consuming CLA and other nutrients in their natural state, the body is able to utilize them much more efficiently. Although there's nothing wrong with supplements, when given the option, it's always better to acquire your nutrients from whole foods.