CLA - More Goodness in Milk
~ November 1999 No.85 ~
More and more we are interested in what we are eating and whether it is good for our health. Identifying active ingredients in our everyday foods has become a major preoccupation for researchers around the world. The rapid advances that are made in one area of science are often the result of breakthroughs in another discipline. This is exactly what has happened to milk.
Everyone knows that milk is a good source of protein and calcium. But of course there is the fat. Up until recently, reducing the fat in milk was a big priority; this gave rise to 2% and then 1% fat milk. The fat in dairy products was generally considered to be mostly saturated fatty acids and therefore, bad. So, in most people´s minds limiting milk and other dairy products was the right thing to do.
Recently scientists have been looking at the fat content of the milk in more detail. As analytical methods become more sophisticated we are able to look at the minor components of food, often with surprising results. In milk fat there are unsaturated fatty acids, and in that group of fatty acids there are several isomers of linoleic acid. Isomers are compounds that only differ in their chemical structure.
Linoleic acid in its most common form (cis-9, cis-12 octadecadienoic acid ) is defined as an essential fatty acid because our body needs it for a variety of reasons, but it can only be supplied by the diet. However, the isomers of linoleic acid - termed conjugated linoleic acids or CLA´s - have been shown to be potent anticarcinogens and may play a role in preventing atherosclerosis. There is a family of these CLA´s and one has been shown ( in lab tests and in mice) to change the body´s metabolism so that the amount of body fat is reduced and the amount of body protein is increased.
The research on CLA´s is very new and very exciting and it may change our views of milk and milk fat in the future.
|Trans isomer||Cis isomer|