The search for a food that can be enriched with healthful conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) has taken an unlikely twist -- straight toward the silkworm. An international group of scientists is reporting success in producing high-CLA silkworms.
Although silkworm soufflé may not sound like the most appetizing dish, people in Asian countries treasure powdered silkworm as a nutritional supplement and traditional treatment for diabetes.
CLA is an umbrella term for isomers -- chemical forms -- of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid. Studies suggest that CLA may have a range of health benefits. They include stimulation of the immune system, protection against cancer and heart disease, reducing body fat and controlling diabetes. Those studies sparked efforts to produce high-CLA poultry, eggs and pigs by feeding CLA to animals. However, it has been difficult to get those animals to incorporate large amounts of CLAs.
Yeong L. Ha and colleagues now report that silkworms fed CLA-coated mulberry leaves at a certain stage in their growth cycle accumulate large amounts of CLA. They began the research, scheduled for the July 12 issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, after other scientists found that houseflies accumulate CLA.
"It is of great significance to produce silkworms containing CLA incorporated into the lipids of their bodies," Ha reported, adding that CLA may enhance the healthful properties of silkworm powder.
Reference: "Production of Silkworms with Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Incorporated Into their Lipids by Dietary CLA." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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