Compound In Meat Prevents Diabetes, Study Suggests

Belury, members of the research team were Jack Vanden Heuvel, assistant professor of toxicology at Penn State; Louise Peck, assistant professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue; Silvia Moya-Camarena and Carla Portocarrero, graduate students at Purdue; Kwangok Nickel, postdoctoral researcher at Purdue; and Karen Houseknecht, assistant professor of animal sciences at Purdue and an adjunct assistant professor of endocrinology and metabolism at the Indiana University School of Medicine. A provisional patent on using CLA to treat diabetes has been issued to Purdue and Penn State.

According to Belury, CLA is a polyunsaturated fat found in meats and cheeses, and in lesser amounts in milk, yogurt, poultry, eggs and cooking oil. "It looks just like corn oil, but maybe just a little clearer," she says.

"It is in foods that are normally associated with saturated fats, but those foods can contain things that are good for you, too. The lesson here is that we still know so little about what is in foods naturally. We know that they contain certain vitamins and minerals, but there could be thousands of nutrients that we haven't even found yet."

Houseknecht says it is possible that CLA may have some advantages over current drug therapies on overall health. "When rats are given TZD, they get fatter. CLA makes them leaner, which has obvious advantages," she says. "In obese animals we saw a 10 percent reduction in body fat, and in lean animals we saw a 25 percent reduction in body fat."

CLA is available as a dietary supplement at health stores, but people shouldn't rush to consume large quantities of the compound until more is known about it, Houseknecht warns. "CLA could have some bad side effects, too," she says. "There never is a perfect drug, and so far there are no toxicology data for CLA."

The CLA research was conducted in a special breed of rat, called the Zucker Diabetic Fatty rat, which is obese and glucose intolerant and therefore mimics human

Contact: Steve Tally
Purdue University

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