A two-pronged attack the research team at the Navarre Public university in Spain is analysing the effect on the development of fatty tissue in lambs of two substances which are common ingredients in their diet: vitamin A (retinol) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
'On administering CLA directly to live lambs, a double benefit can be obtained: apart from reducing the quantity of fat, the fat that is incorporated contains a higher amount of this anti-cancerous substance,?/i> said the scientists this week.
Conjugated linoleic acid, the common name of a group of fatty acids found in dairy products and meat, is gaining in favour as more studies reveal its action on a range of diseases, including cancer, atherosclerosis, obesity, and immune function. As scientists begin to reveal its impact on the reduction of body fat, food makers are also increasingly looking at the ingredient for the applications in the weight loss market.
One of the main aims of the Spanish project, due to end in 2006, is to modulate the quantity of fat accumulated in the animal through the regulation of adipogenesis or the process by which fat is deposited in different parts of the body.
To this end, the resesarchers were looking at the effect on the deposition of fat in animals of vitamin A and CLA, two natural substances found fundamentally in vegetables.
'The starting hypothesis is that these substances diminish fat deposition, but the concentrations of these substances have to be known in order to obtain the desired results,?/i> say the researchers this week.
'Experiments are being carried out to augment the content of this element in the animal-based foodstuffs in the diet such as, for example, milk: The more grass or forage the animals eat, the more CLA in their milk and, so, the more benefit to humans,?/i> they add.
The study will be carried out firstly in vitro, cell cultures will be used to summarise the adipogenesis process and to see if differences between sexes, breeds and fatty deposits are due to intrinsic cellular differences or to external factors.
Leading suppliers of the fatty acid CLA to the European marketplace include nutritional ingredients company Cognis and healthy fats and oils supplier Loders Croklaan.