Consuming cheese from ewes milk,
rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), may reduce markers
linked to heart disease, suggest results from a small Italian
Researchers from the University of Florence report that
ewes milk rich in cis-9, trans-11 CLA produced favourable
changes in inflammatory cytokines and platelet aggregation,
both of which are associated with atherosclerosis, or hardening
of the arteries due to the build-up of fatty deposits on
Atherosclerosis is the primary cause of coronary heart
disease (CHD), which costs the British public health system
more than €5bn per year.
These observations, although preliminary and obtained
in a limited study group, seem to be of relevance for the
practical implications in terms of nutrition and health
of the general population, wrote the researchers in
Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.
If the effects of dairy products naturally enriched
for their contents of cis-9, trans-11 CLA are confirmed
by further examinations, this will likely have important
implications for human nutrition and food industry.
The CLA market is expanding, according to a 2007 Frost
& Sullivan report, which said the global market is forecast
to reach revenues of US$109.9 million in 2013. Key players
in the market include Lipid Nutrition with its Clarinol
ingredient and Cognis with its Tonalin ingredient.
Cheese ewe decide
Researchers, led by Francesco Sofi, recruited 10 subjects
with an average age of 51.5 and randomly assigned them to
consume a diet containing 200 grams per week of cheese from
ewes milk (pecorino cheese), naturally rich in CLA,
or cheese from cows milk (placebo), for 10 weeks.
Sofi and his co-workers report that consumption of the
CLA-rich ewes cheese produced significant reductions
in inflammatory markers, including a 43 per cent reduction
in interleukin-6 (IL-6), a 36 per cent reduction in IL-8,
and a 40 per cent reduction in tumour necrosis factor-alpha
(TNF-alpha). No significant changes were observed following
10 weeks of placebo, they added.
Furthermore, a 10 per cent reduction in the extent of platelet
aggregation, induced by arachidonic acid, was observed for
the CLA-cheese group, compared to placebo.
CLAs have been previously reported to attenuate inflammatory
cytokine expression in animals and humans, and it has been
recently reported that they are able to inhibit the expression
of cytokine-induced adhesion molecules on endothelial and
smooth muscle cells, wrote the researchers.
Thus, it is conceivable to hypothesise that CLAs
are able to attenuate the atherosclerotic process through
inhibition of the initiating inflammatory cytokines, such
as those measured in our study, as well as through inhibition
of the stress signalling cascades these cytokines elicit,