Research on rats suggest that a common fat found in red meats and cheeses might prevent adult onset diabetes, say scientists from Purdue University and Pennsylvania State University. The substance, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), appears to work as well as a new class of diabetes-fighting drugs, the thiazolidinediones (TZDs), say researchers. Martha Belury, Purdue assistant professor of foods and nutrition, says, "If you inherit a genetic predisposition to adult-onset diabetes and you're obese and inactive, then you may well develop this disease. Our study suggests that CLA may help normalize or reduce blood glucose levels and prevent diabetes."
Belury says 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.
The CLA research was conducted with a special breed of rat (the Zucker Diabetic Fatty rat) that is obese and glucose intolerant and therefore mimics human adult-onset diabetes. (Previous studies have shown that CLA can prevent the onset of certain types of cancer and reduce the number of mammary, skin, and stomach tumors in laboratory animals.) A provisional patent on using CLA to treat diabetes has been issued to Purdue and Penn State.