Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) are a type of fatty acid found abundantly in coconut oil, as well as palm kernel oil, and to a lesser extent butter (and human breast milk, but most of you don’t keep that on tap). The thing that is unique about MCTs is that they are not digested and used by the body in the same way as other fatty acids.
But aren’t fatty acids bad? I mean, they’re… fatty? MCTs are highly water soluble, so they can be absorbed through the small intestine wall where they’re transported to the liver, skipping the lyphatic system, which is where most fatty acids are processed. MCTs are broken down and utilized almost immediately and as such are not stored like other fats.
Important Benefits of Coconut Oil and MCTs:
- Aid in weight loss. The mechanism behind this is three-fold. (a) First MCT’s have been shown to decrease hunger. (b) They also promote energy expenditure via the process of thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is the production of heat in the human body. Research has shown that this happens at a rate three times of that of other fats. After ingesting MCTs you burn three times the number of calories as you would with other sources of fats. And finally, (c) because MCTs are used immediately there is not time for them to get stored on the body. (A couple studies go into more detail.)
- Promote intestinal healing for those suffering from digestive problems. This oil is able to do this both by killing problematic microorganisims that may be causing inflamation and also because this fatty acid is so easily digested.
- Assist diabetics in regulating blood sugar. Studies have found that MCTs have a slight blood glucose lowering effect.
- Help individuals suffering from seizures. Ketogenic (very low carbohydrate) diets have been highly effective in treating individuals with epilepsy. A brain that is running on ketone bodies (by-products of fat digestion) lowers seizure risk and allows for neuronal repair and recovery that is superior to a brain running on glucose. MCT oil boosts the ketones available in the body.
- Increased brain health and memory in alzheimers and dementia patients. The reasoning behind this is the same as that of #4. The chronic exposure to glucose, such as is associated with the standard American diet, is being shown to correlate with neuronal apoptosis (cell death) which is a cause of dementia.
- Aid in menopausal symptoms. In conjunction with a ketogenic diet, MCTs can help to decrease menopausal symptoms including hot flashes. They do this by providing ketone bodies to a brain that is being deprived of glucose due to a loss of estrogen.
MCTs in My Diet
There are two main sources of MCTs that I have been using in my diet. I use coconut oil, which as stated above is a good source of MCTs, for cooking and also in my cocoa crack recipe. Since the kids even love the cocoa crack recipe it helps to get these beneficial fats into their diet!
I’ve also just recently begun using a 100% pure MCT Oil. MCT oil shouldn’t be heated, so I need to find some creative ways to use it. I’ve made a very tasty salad dressing using MCT oil, but thus far that is the only way I’ve used it.
I’d love to hear any good recipes you’re using MCT oil in!