A Good Trans Fat:
Conjugated Linoleic Acid

Written by
Published in March 2007

Not all trans fats are bad! The naturally-occurring trans fat conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may offer health benefits. Naturally found in beef, lamb and dairy products (full fat), conjugated linoleic acid has been studied for its potential role in weight loss and osteoporosis prevention.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid as a Fat Burner

There are very few clinical trials of conjugated linoleic acid in overweight people. These studies showed that conjugated linoleic acid supplements did result in fat loss but not body weight loss. A Swedish study published in 2001 showed that conjugated linoleic acid helped burn fat by decreasing abdominal fat in overweight men. Another Dutch study published in July 2003 showed that conjugated linoleic acid supplements help maintain lean muscle tissue after weight loss.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid as a Bone Booster

Researchers from the University of Connecticut found that postmenopausal women with a higher dietary intake of conjugated linoleic acid had higher bone mineral density in the forearm, hip, lumbar spine and the whole body. Results of this study were published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in June 2005.

The Bottom Line

Research on conjugated linoleic acid in humans is still very limited. What we know is that the effect of fat loss is more convincing in animal studies than in human studies. Some human trials did found that conjugated linoleic acid can reduce body fat. Safety and toxicity levels have not yet established. In addition, side effects have not been well-documented. Therefore, avoid the supplements but regard the naturally-occurring trans fat conjugated linoleic acid as one more good reason to drink milk.

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