Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
The amount of CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID (CLA) in the American diet has been lowered due to changes in the way we eat and in how farmers are raising their cattle. This can be seen as a contradiction: we are consuming less CLA, but we are also seeing a large increase in obesity.
People only get CLA from the foods they eat. CLA is found in a variety of foods in very small amounts; beef and dairy fats contain the largest quantities. When cattle eat grass, which is rich in linoleic acid, their digestive tract converts the linoleic acid into conjugated linoleic acid, a different molecule.
We get 80% less CLA in our diets today for two reasons. Today, cows are seldom pasture grazed. Instead, they are fed foods (grains and soy) which result in decreased CLA production. Secondly, we also eat less red meat and dairy fats, which also reduces the amount of CLA in our diets.