If you haven’t heard of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), you’re in good company. CLA is a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids just beginning to make a splash in the weight loss industry.
While it’s been in testing for nearly 30 years, recent trials have determined that a dosage of 3.4g – 6.8g can help increase overall weight loss. The benefits of CLA go far beyond reducing fat deposits, though. Studies now show that CLA also improves immune function, acting as a powerful antioxidant and anti carcinogenic.
Natural Sources of CLA
So how does one get more of this new miracle fat in their diet? Vegans, beware. CLA is naturally present in ruminant animal products such as beef, lamb, and poultry, as well as in dairy products like eggs, milk, and (one of the most delicious substances on the planet) butter. Seafood and plant oils contain some CLA too, but in much lower amounts. Rest assured, with its appearance on the weight loss scene, additional quantitative data on dietary sources of CLA is now top-priority research.
Why “Grass Fed” Matters
While many Americans don’t need an excuse to eat steak, there are a few tips to consider before firing up the grill.
First, levels of natural CLA in animal products can fluctuate depending on the season and type of feed. Research shows that meat and dairy products from grass fed animals have considerably higher levels of CLA than their solely grain-fed alternatives. In other words, not all steaks are created equal. Grass-fed products are key to a decent dose of CLA.
As consumers try to avoid toxic chemicals in food (rBST, anyone?), grass-fed products are lining supermarket shelves with a premium price tag. So if you’re shopping for the real deal, here’s what to look for on the label.
Tech Insider suggests looking for labels that say “100% Grass-Fed” or “Grass-Fed & Grass-Finished” accompanied by an AWA, PCO, or AGA certified label to indicate that the animal ate actual grass its whole life. The USDA Organic sticker is not an indicator of a purely grass-fed diet.
Wisely, the publication also advises caution when purchasing grass-fed products without a certified third-party label. While smaller reputable certifications do exist, you’ll have to vet them for yourself on a case-by-case basis.
With all the hype about plant-based diets, the benefits of CLA add some serious weight to the argument for the inclusion of animal protein in a balanced lifestyle. Provided that it is mindfully sourced, getting a regular dose of CLA from meat and dairy can help with weight loss, immunity and cancer prevention. Plus, every grass-fed product you pick up helps support sustainable farming practices.