Breast milk benefits from CLA-enriched cookies, study

By Laura Crowley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Breast milk Nutrition Milk Cla

The consumption of food enriched with conjugated linoleic acid can increase the level of these potentially healthy fatty acids in breast milks, according to a recent study.

The research, led by Athena Moutsioulis from the University of New Hampshire and published in Nutrition Research,​ found that the levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in breast milk were on average 46 per cent higher from women who ate CLA-enriched cookies, compared to those who ate regular cookies.

Furthermore, the optimum length of time between CLA-consumption and breast-feeing proved to be between 8 and 28 hours.

“This preliminary study suggests that breast milk fatty acids are enriched in CLA compared to control within 28 hours after the ingestion of a CLA-rich food product and invited further research on the extent and timing with which breast milk composition reflects dietary CLA content,”​ wrote the report’s authors.

CLA is a group of fatty acids with possible health benefits, including offering potential anticancer and antioxidant effects.

They are present in breast milk, coming in part from the mother’s diet, as well as being produced from vaccenic acid (VA) in the mother’s body and being activated from maternal adipose tissue stories and secreted into milk.

The study

This was a very small study, comprising only seven test subjects, who were all lactating women between the ages of 27 and 50.

At the start of each test session, each subject consumed either two cookies containing 57g of enriched-CLA approved food grade butter, or two cookies containing the same amount of butter, but with only moderate levels of CLA.

They were also given recommendations on following a controlled, nutrient-complete diet as well as being asked to refrain from eating high-CLA foods during the course of the study.

Breast milk samples were taken and measured for their CLA content, and differences were noted between the test and the control.

The largest difference between the control and test groups in CLA enrichment of total fatty acids in the breast milk occurred at eight to 12 hours post consumption of the CLA-enriched cookies. At this stage, there was a two-fold increase in CLA enrichment.

In regards to CLA levels in breast milk, the greatest difference was seen between eight and 12 hours and 16 and 20 hours after ingestion when it increased 1.6 times.

The researchers accepted that there are many limitations to their research. The study was carried out on a very small scale, subjects consumed less energy than recommended, and there are potential problems with quantifying low abundance fatty acids because of variations between subjects.

The authors wrote: “Despite its limitations, this pilot study suggests that CLA appearance in human breast milk can be increased by an acute ingestion of a CLA-rich food in the maternal diet.”

CLA​CLA is naturally present in ruminant meat and dairy products. Due to changes in the Western diet, average intake of CLA has fallen; if the fat is removed from a dairy product to make a low fat version that will be acceptable to consumers, CLA is removed along with it.

Last week, Lipid Nutrition confirmed its Clarinol CLA ingredient had received approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used as an ingredient in certain foods and beverages in that country, a move that came as the firm continues to anticipate the equivalent approval in the EU market.

The determination means that Clarinol, a weight management ingredient, can be used in fluid and flavored milks, yoghurts, milk-based meal replacements, meal replacement bars, soy milk, and fruit juice applications.

And today, Cognis Nutrition and Health, announced that the FDA granted GRAS approval for its Tonalin CLA product, for use in a range of functional foods and beverages.

Its line of CLA is aimed at safely reducing body fat and improving body composition. Source: Nutrition Research​July 2008, doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2008.04.001“Human breast milk enrichment in conjugated linoleic acid after consumption of a conjugated linoleic acid-rich food product: a pilot study”​Authors: Athena Moutsioulis, Daniel Rule, Charles Murrieta, Dale Bauman, Adam Lock, David Barbano, Gale Carey

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