“MCTs” are medium-chain triglycerides, a form of saturated fatty acid that has numerous health benefits, ranging from improved cognitive function to better weight management. Coconut oil is one great source of MCTs — roughly 62–65 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil are MCTs — but recently more concentrated “MCT oils” have also been growing in popularity.
MCTs, also called “MCFAs” for medium-chain fatty acids, are believed to be largely missing from the diets of people eating “standard Western” diets, most likely because the public has been led to believe that all forms of saturated fats are potentially harmful. However, recently research has shown a lot of evidence about the real truth regarding saturated fats.
We now know that ideally MCT oils like coconut oil should actually be consumed every day. Certain saturated fats, especially MCTs and other healthy fats found in things like coconut oil or grass-fed beef, are in fact easier to digest than long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) and might even have more benefits related to heart health, obesity prevention and brain health, too.
In fact, traditional populations living in tropical areas have been consuming saturated fats, including sources of MCTs like coconuts, for thousands of years without any ill effects — so consider the idea that a low-fat diet is “healthy” to be one of the biggest nutrition lies there ever was!
Aside from coconut oil, smaller amounts of MCTs can also be found in certain other foods with saturated fats including butter (especially butter from grass-fed cows), cheeses, palm oil, whole milk and full-fat yogurt.
What Makes MCT Oils So Special?
MCTs get their name because of the length of their chemical structure. All types of fatty acids are made up of strings of connected carbon and hydrogen. Fats are categorized by how many carbons they have: short-chain fats (like butyric acid) have fewer than six carbons, medium-chain fats have between 6–12 carbons and long-chain fats (like omega-3s) have between 13–21.
What makes MCTs a top source of essential healthy fats? Medium-chain fats are digested easily and sent directly to your liver, where they have a thermogenic effect and the ability to positively alter your metabolism. This is one reason why many people claim that MCTs, including coconut oil, are burned by the body for energy, or “fuel,” instead of being stored as fat.
Compared to longer-chain fats, MCTs are absorbed more easily since there’s less work for the body to do breaking apart carbon bonds. MCTs are smaller, so they can permeate our cell membranes more easily and don’t require that we use special enzymes in order for our bodies to utilize them.
MCTs and saturated fats are good for you in other ways, too: They reduce the risks of low-fat diets, and they’re supportive of your gut environment, especially since they have the capability to combat harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Additionally, MCTs contain antioxidant properties, which is why coconut oil has far-reaching inflammatory benefits that have led it to be used to treat dozens of health problems in folk medicine for centuries.
Medium-chain fatty acids are capable of helping you:
Maintain a healthy weight — since they both make you feel full
Specifically reduce stored body fat — since they also raise your metabolic function
Have more energy
Think more clearly
Experience better digestion
Balance hormone levels
Improve your mood
Fight bacterial infection and viruses
Absorb fat-soluble nutrients from various foods
Health Benefits of MCT Oil:
1. Can Help with Weight Loss or Maintenance
Compared to other types of oils and fats, MCTs seem to have positive effects on fat burning and weight reduction. As part of a healthy diet, MCT oil can help increase satiety and even raise the metabolic rate at which the body functions. Does this mean eating large amounts of MCTs daily will make you drop pounds? Not quite. Not every study has shown that MCTs can produce weight loss necessarily, but some definitely have shown the positive effects of MCTs on metabolic function.
2. Help Protect Heart Health
A 2010 study reported that MCTs can help prevent the development of metabolic syndrome — a term given to a cluster of metabolic disorders such as abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension and impaired fasting glucose levels. MCTs seem to be able to help decrease cardiovascular disease and mortality risk in general due to helping lower odds of becoming obese. Most likely, they have this positive effect because they are anti-inflammatory, easy to digest, satiating and easily used for energy as described above.
3. Helps Improve Energy Levels and Your Mood
Your brain is largely made up of fatty acids, so you need a steady supply from your diet to feel your best, think clearly, perform well at work and stay sharp well into older age. Medium-chain fats are believed to be one of the most easily digested, utilized and protective fatty acids that exists.
4. Helps Improve Digestion and Nutrient Absorption
Both MCT oil and coconut oil are beneficial for balancing bacteria in the gut microbiota, which in turn has positive effects on digestive symptoms, energy expenditure, and the ability to absorb vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. Medium-chain fats can help kill a wide range of pathogenic viruses and strains and bacteria that cause digestive issues, including candida, constipation, diarrhea, food poisoning, stomachaches and so on.
You also need to consume healthy fats in order absorb fat-soluble nutrients found in various foods. These include nutrients like beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A found in plants like berries, squash and leafy greens), vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and lutein. When you consume a healthy diet filled with lots of different whole, plant foods but don’t get enough healthy fat sources at the same time, your body is basically not capable of utilizing these nutrients as well.
5. Has Antibacterial, Antiviral and Antifungal Properties
MCTs are powerful, natural antibiotics that help balance bacteria in the gut. In the age of antibiotic resistance, it’s meaningful to have natural methods to kill some harmful types of bacteria. Here are some known to be killed by medium-chain fats: streptococcus (which causes strep throat, pneumonia and sinus infections), straphylococcus (which causes food poisoning and urinary tract infections), neisseria (which causes meningitis, gonorrhea and pelvic inflammatory diseases), and some other strains that cause stomach viruses, candida, ulcers and sexually transmitted diseases.
In fact, there are at least a dozen pathogenic viruses that have been inactivated at least partially by lauric acid. Another great thing about MCTs is that they are capable of reducing “bad bacteria” without harming or removing “good bacteria.” That’s important, considering we need the good kind for intestinal health and digestive functioning.
6. Can Withstand High-Heat Cooking
MCT oils are particularly good for cooking with because they have a high “smoke point”, meaning they don’t oxidize from heat easily and can withstand high temperatures. This is crucial, because even certain “good fats” are not well suited for cooking (like extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil for example) and can become rancid oils somewhat easily. Both coconut oil and MCT oil can be used for the most part in baked goods, sautes, stir-fries and grilled foods without oxidizing.
Here ‘s a great video discussing the health benefits and differences between MCT oil vs. coconut oil for mental energy and weight loss.:
Do you find this article informative? If you do, you can also share this with your friends and family online. For more informative ideas, feel free to visit our website more often and don’t forget to leave your comment. Thank you and God bless.