The research, led by Athena Moutsioulis from the University of New Hampshire and published in Nutrition Research, found that the levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in breast milk were on average 46 per cent higher from women who ate CLA-enriched cookies, compared to those who ate regular cookies.
Conjugated linoleic acid is a group of fatty acids with possible health benefits, including anticancer and antioxidant effects.
In the study, seven nursing mothers ate cookies made with CLA-enriched butter or with regular butter. The women then pumped samples of their breast milk every four to six hours for two days. The enriched cookies contained about eight times more CLA than the regular cookies.
Breast milk from women who ate the CLA-enriched cookies had significantly higher levels of CLA. Across the 48-hour study period, CLA levels were 46 percent higher in milk from women who ate CLA-enriched cookies, compared to those who ate regular cookies.
Levels of CLA in breast milk were highest between 8 and 28 hours after the mothers ate the CLA-enriched cookies. Nutrition researchers are interested in the health benefits of CLA, including possible reductions in heart disease risk. High levels of CLA are found naturally in foods such as butter, milk, cheese, and certain meats.
The study suggest that higher levels of CLA in breast milk can be achieved in the short term as well-within a few hours after eating CLA-enriched foods.
The study is published in the journal Nutrition Research.