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What Is Conjugated Linoleic Acid Used For?

Conjugated linoleic acid is a substance that occurs naturally in dairy and certain meat products. Conjugated linoleic acid uses may include helping people lose body fat and possibly preventing colon or breast cancer. However, conjugated linoleic acid may have some negative effects, especially when it is taken in the form of a supplement. Some of these negative effects include increasing the risk of diabetes, lowering "good" cholesterol, and increasing inflammatory proteins.

What Is Conjugated Linoleic Acid Used For?

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in dairy and meat products of cows, sheep, and various other animals (although supplements often contain conjugated linoleic acid made synthetically from plant oils). Although conjugated linoleic acid is a trans fat (a type of fat that is usually considered a "bad" fat), conjugated linoleic acid may have beneficial effects. Conjugated linoleic acid shows promise in helping people lose body fat and may be useful for cancer prevention.
 

Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Weight Loss

With obesity on the rise (see Obesity Statistics), many people are searching for "quick fixes" to help with weight loss. Although the ideal weight-loss plans focus on gradual weight loss by eating a healthy diet and increasing physical activity (see How to Lose Weight), many people have difficulty following such plans (or feel they need extra assistance in their efforts). Before turning to drastic measures, such as weight-loss surgery, many people consider using weight-loss pills, especially if they have unsuccessfully tried to control their obesity (and exercise and diet have been ineffective).
 
There is some evidence that people who are dieting may be especially prone to consuming a diet that is low in conjugated linoleic acid (because conjugated linoleic acid is found in dairy and meat). Although more research is necessary, it is thought that a lack of conjugated linoleic acid may send signals to the body to store fat. However, it is important to note that there is some evidence that certain forms of conjugated linoleic acid can make the body more resistant to insulin (and may therefore increase the risk of diabetes), especially in people with "central obesity" (weight gain around the midsection). Additionally, some forms of conjugated linoleic acid may lower HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol") and may increase inflammatory proteins, both of which are especially undesirable in people who are obese.
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Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Weight Loss

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