Conjugated Linoleic Acid vs. Linoleic Acid

What's the Difference?

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and Linoleic Acid (LA) are both forms of omega-6 fatty acids that are essential for the human body. However, they differ in their chemical structure and health benefits. LA is a polyunsaturated fatty acid commonly found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. It plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin, hair, and cell membranes. On the other hand, CLA is a modified form of LA that undergoes a process called conjugation, resulting in a different arrangement of its double bonds. CLA is primarily found in meat and dairy products. It is known for its potential health benefits, including weight management, reducing body fat, and improving immune function. While both LA and CLA are important for overall health, CLA has gained more attention for its potential therapeutic effects.


AttributeConjugated Linoleic AcidLinoleic Acid
Chemical StructureConjugated double bondsMultiple double bonds
IsomerismExists as various isomersExists as cis and trans isomers
Health BenefitsPotential anti-cancer properties, weight managementEssential for growth, brain function, and metabolism
Food SourcesBeef, dairy products, lamb, eggsNuts, seeds, vegetable oils
Role in the BodyRegulates immune function, inflammation, and lipid metabolismEssential for cell membrane structure and hormone production

Further Detail


Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and Linoleic Acid (LA) are both types of fatty acids that belong to the omega-6 family. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of CLA and LA, their sources, health benefits, and potential side effects.


CLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid found primarily in meat and dairy products from ruminant animals such as cows, goats, and sheep. It is a trans fatty acid, meaning it has a different molecular structure than most unsaturated fats. On the other hand, LA is an essential fatty acid that cannot be produced by the human body and must be obtained through diet. It is an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid and is commonly found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.


CLA is primarily sourced from animal products, particularly grass-fed beef and dairy products from grass-fed cows. The concentration of CLA in these products can vary depending on the animal's diet and breed. On the other hand, LA is abundant in various plant-based oils such as sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, and soybean oil. It is also present in nuts like walnuts and seeds like flaxseeds.

Health Benefits

CLA has gained attention for its potential health benefits. Some studies suggest that CLA may aid in weight loss by reducing body fat mass and increasing lean body mass. It may also have anti-inflammatory properties and could potentially help in managing conditions like asthma, allergies, and rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, CLA has been associated with improved insulin sensitivity and reduced risk of heart disease.

On the other hand, LA plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health. It is a precursor for the production of other important fatty acids, such as arachidonic acid, which is involved in various physiological processes. LA is also essential for the formation and maintenance of cell membranes, as well as the production of hormones and signaling molecules. Furthermore, it supports the proper functioning of the immune system and helps regulate blood pressure.

Potential Side Effects

While CLA is generally considered safe when consumed in moderate amounts through food sources, high doses of CLA supplements may have adverse effects. Some individuals may experience gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea and stomach cramps. There have also been concerns about the potential impact of CLA on insulin resistance and its association with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, more research is needed to fully understand these effects.

Similarly, excessive intake of LA through supplements or processed foods high in omega-6 fatty acids may have negative consequences. An imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the diet has been linked to increased inflammation and a higher risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease. It is important to maintain a balanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids for optimal health.


CLA and LA are both omega-6 fatty acids with distinct characteristics and roles in the body. CLA, primarily found in animal products, has been associated with potential weight loss benefits, anti-inflammatory properties, and improved insulin sensitivity. LA, on the other hand, is an essential fatty acid sourced from plant-based oils and plays a vital role in various physiological processes, including cell membrane formation and hormone production.

While both CLA and LA offer potential health benefits, it is important to consume them in moderation and maintain a balanced intake of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. As with any dietary component, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine the appropriate intake based on individual needs and health conditions.

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