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Conjugated linoleic acids as functional food: an insight into their health benefits

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Author(s): Benjamin Sailas | Spener Friedrich

Journal: Nutrition & Metabolism
ISSN 1743-7075

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 36;
Date: 2009;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract This review evaluates the health benefits of the functional food, conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) - a heterogeneous group of positional and geometric isomers of linoleic acid predominantly found in milk, milk products, meat and meat products of ruminants. During the past couple of decades, hundreds of reports - principally based on in vitro, microbial, animal, and of late clinical trials on humans - have been accumulating with varying biological activities of CLA isomers. These studies highlight that CLA, apart form the classical nuclear transcription factors-mediated mechanism of action, appear to exhibit a number of inter-dependent molecular signalling pathways accounting for their reported health benefits. Such benefits relate to anti-obesitic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-atherogenic, anti-diabetagenic, immunomodulatory, apoptotic and osteosynthetic effects. On the other hand, negative effects of CLA have been reported such as fatty liver and spleen, induction of colon carcinogenesis and hyperproinsulinaemia. As far as human consumption is concerned, a definite conclusion for CLA safety has not been reached yet. Parameters such as administration of the type of CLA isomer and/or their combination with other polyunsaturated fatty acids, mode of administration (eg., as free fatty acid or its triglyceride form, liquid or solid), daily dose and duration of consumption, gender, age, or ethnic and geographical backgrounds remain to be determined. Yet, it appears from trials so far conducted that CLA are functional food having prevailing beneficial health effects for humans.
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