What you eat today, will work for your health in rewarding ways tomorrow.
The wide range of fats, nutrients, proteins or radicals present in various foods requires us to understand what we need to eat on a daily basis. One food that is considered a superfood because of its nutritional structure is Cow Ghee, or more specifically, Grass-Fed Cow Ghee. Apart from having many other benefits, Ghee has something called Conjugated Linoleic Acid or CLA. It is a polyunsaturated fat that is found in Linoleic Acid, which is an essential fatty acid. It is produced naturally, through the rumen (primary stomach) of cattle that are grass-fed.
Common Fats and CLA
The one aspect, within the nutritional information of most foods, which is always checked by conscious and responsible health enthusiasts is – fats. Before we go on to understand why CLA matters, let us draw our attention to fats that are found in most whole and processed foods. To put it simply, there are three primary kinds of fats – Saturated, Unsaturated and Trans Fats.
- An unsaturated fat is a fatty acid in which there are multiple (or single) double bonds in the fatty acid chain. A fat molecule is said to be monounsaturated (MUFA) if it contains one double bond, and polyunsaturated (PUFA) if it is made up of multiple double bonds.Thus, a saturated fat is “saturated” with hydrogen atoms. This is where CLA comes in. CLA is an omega-6 fatty acid which happens to be a polyunsaturated fat found mainly in nuts, seeds, fish and most farm cattle.
- Trans Fats are a type of unsaturated fat which are considered to be unhealthy. They increase the risk of diseases regardless of the amount they are consumed in. Such fats are largely found in processed foods containing hydrogenated oil. This, in turn, makes it easy for us to segregate foods containing trans fats.
- Saturated Fats, when compared to unsaturated fats, impact one’s health negatively but are not as harmful as Trans Fats. Foods like red meat, cheese, butter, and ice creams, contain large amounts of such fats. Coconut oil and palm oil are a couple of plant based fat sources that are rich in Saturated fats.
Why Grass-Fed Ghee?
Grass-Fed Ghee is that which is sourced from free-range, grass-fed cows, whereas regular ghee is the type that is sourced from cows that are grain-fed in dairy farms. The preferred of the two is grass-fed, because of its higher nutritional values as compared to the regular ghee. Also, more importantly,
CLA in Grass-Fed ghee is 3-5 times more as compared to regular ghee.
Understanding the following benefits of CLA in grass-fed ghee would help you consciously choose the better Ghee off the store shelf.
Helps cut-down on body fat
This particular benefit of CLA is perhaps the most talked about. Tests on human subjects have successfully shown that regular dosage of around 3 – 4 grams, helps in losing body fat. Apart from having fat-soluble vitamins like A, E and K, Ghee contains Isomers of CLA (similar elements with slightly variable properties) which help inhibit the genes responsible for aiding fat storage.
In studies done on animals, it was seen that CLA helped reduce tumour count in rats. In 1979, researchers found that CLA, or Conjugated Linoleic Acid, reduced the effects of chemically induced cancer in mice. Overtime, upon further experimentation, it was concluded by the USFDA to be a safe dietary supplement. Further studies showed that CLA reduced the formation of blood vessels that contributed to the growth of tumours in humans, and is known especially to counter breast cancer out of all forms of cancer.
Helps build stronger bones
CLA boosts hormones in the body, which are responsible for sending signals to the body to increase the absorption of calcium. It also reduces the activity of osteoclasts, which are cells that use up the calcium in bones. Another thing to be kept in mind is that if CLA is consumed along with a calcium-supplement, it can prevent weight gain associated with menopause as well.
Fights Excessive Inflammation
CLA in ghee has been proven to help develop a high resistance to infections and other inflammatory disorders. In a study from the Journal of Nutrition, it was seen that CLA helped reduce inflammation in mice with arthritic tendencies. CLA contains a particular protein called the COX-2 protein. This protein is known to significantly limit many inflammatory diseases. COX-2 is also used in drugs dispensed for treating diseases like arthritis and cancer. Chronic inflammation is responsible for diseases such as strokes and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
CLA and Diabetes
A diet that is rich in CLA will, over time, contribute to a lower risk of diabetes. High concentrations of 9, 11 CLA (different isomers of CLA) in the adipose tissue (tissue that is responsible for fat storage) is what makes this possible. Diabetics who add CLA to their diets can expect lower body mass, as well as lower blood sugar levels, by the end of any eight-week period. This is based off a 2002 study conducted by the Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group.
A Healthier Heart
Atherosclerosis refers to the build-up of plaque (clots made up of fats and cholesterol) in arteries. This narrows down the important arteries responsible for smooth blood flow throughout the heart. A particular study conducted in 2018 on overweight mice has shown that CLA helps fight against atherosclerosis. Further studies are underway to bring out more detailed reports throwing light on exactly how CLA is healthy for your heart.
Adding CLA to your daily diet
Since Ghee is a food that is both ready-to-eat and can be added to most meals, it turns out to be the easiest way in which you can add CLA to your diet. This is because all other ways are comparatively complex. CLA is found in fish, veal, lamb and turkey. A two-ounce serving of salmon contains just around 1.07 mg of CLA, while grass-fed whole milk contains up to 120 mg. Two-ounces of Grass-Fed Ghee, in comparison contain almost 1000mg of CLA. If you are looking to buy ghee in India, it is best to go in for either pure desi cow ghee, or the more popular A2 cow ghee. Also, more importantly, make sure these are from grass-fed cows, wherein the amount of CLA is much more.
So, how much of CLA is good enough?
Most studies suggest consuming at least 300 mg on a daily basis. Even doubling that amount to 600 mg per day is considered safe. Though studies till now have not been quite critical about the scientific upper-limit of daily CLA consumption, there is only so much one can eat in a day in order to source CLA for their daily needs.
Aside from the benefit of CLA, ghee has a number of other boons which justify the tag of ‘superfood’ that is given to ghee. Lately, such has the importance of CLA grown that supplements containing CLA are becoming prevalent. However, it is always better to stick to natural food products like ghee that contain CLA as well as several other benefits.