Conjugated Linoleic Acid: Potential Health Benefits as a Functional Food Ingredient

Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2016;7:221-44. doi: 10.1146/annurev-food-041715-033028. Epub 2016 Jan 6.


Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) has drawn significant attention since the 1980s for its various biological activities. CLA consists mainly of two isomers, cis-9,trans-11 and trans-10,cis-12, and the mixture of these two (CLA mix or 50:50) has been approved for food as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) in the United States since 2008. Along with its original discovery as an anticancer component, CLA has been shown to prevent the development of atherosclerosis, reduce body fat while improving lean body mass, and modulate immune and/or inflammatory responses. This review summarizes the clinical trials involving CLA since 2012; additional uses of CLA for age-associated health issues are discussed; and CLA's potential health concerns, including glucose homeostasis, oxidative stress, hepatic steatosis, and milk-fat depression, are examined. With ongoing applications to food products, CLA consumption is expected to rise and close monitoring of not only its efficacy but also its known and unknown consequences are required to ensure proper applications of CLA.

Keywords: CLA; aging; conjugated linoleic acid; obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Atherosclerosis / prevention & control
  • Blood Glucose
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diet
  • Fats / analysis
  • Fatty Liver / prevention & control
  • Functional Food* / analysis
  • Health Promotion*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Immunity / drug effects
  • Isomerism
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated* / chemistry
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Blood Glucose
  • Fats
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated