Dairy is one of the first things people sacrifice when they start a calorie or cholesterol-control diet. Most dietary guidelines,however,include low-fat dairy as an integral part of a healthy diet. Besides its valuable nutrition profile and well-known benefits such as bone building,dairy has also been found to be a good source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA),a variant of linoleic aid,an essential fatty acid.
Dairy products have become controversial for various reasonsfears of heart disease,obesity and even cancer. Often,those diagnosed with a malignancy are made to believe that giving up dairy would be helpful. Quite contrary to that,CLA is protective against all these.
CLA occurs in the rumen of cows and other ruminants and is thus present in their milk and other dairy products such as cheese,yoghurt and butter. In 1977,Peter Parodi first identified CLA in cow milk. The turning point in CLA research was the discovery of its tumor-inhibiting activity by Micheal Pariza.
CLA is a unique anti-carcinogen that inhibits the growth of a number of human cancer cell lines and suppresses chemically-induced tumor development in laboratory animals. CLA has been found to be particularly beneficial in cancers of colon,ovaries,prostate,breast,blood,bone marrow (leukemia) and skin (melanoma). A diet with one per cent of CLA has been reported to reduce breast cancer incidence by nearly 60 per cent.
Experiments on animals have shown that CLA also helps in lowering cholesterol,very low density lipoprotein (VLDL),low-density lipoproteins (LDL or bad cholesterol),LDL-HDL ratio,total cholesterol-HDL ratio and triglycerides and reduced arterial plaque build up.
CLA also prevents heart diseases by exhibiting its antioxidant activity and inhibiting formation of free radicals. Also,researchers suggest that CLA has a tocopherol (Vitamin E) sparing effect. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant.
CLAs use as an aid for reducing body fat followed animal research that reported reduction of body fat due to CLA dietary supplements. Postulated mechanisms suggest that CLA reduces body fat by decreasing energy intake,increasing metabolic rate,regulating glucose and fatty acid uptake and improving insulin sensitivity. However,the benefits of using CLA dietary supplements for reducing body fat have not been consistent and conclusive.
Additional potential benefits include reduction in food-induced allergic reactions and overall enhancement of the immune system. However,CLA does not seem to help replenish the immune system once an animal has become immuno-depleted.
Though more studies are needed to reveal the benefits and evaluate long-term safety of CLA supplementation,the good news is that dairy may not be as bad as you thought. u