MCT oil is the new go-to, everyone. If you've heard rumors that coconut oil isn't as good as it's made up to be, they aren't exactly wrong. Current studies show that coconut oil may not be as nutritious as we originally thought. It's as unhealthy as beef fat, even. But how? For one, coconut oil is high in LDL (low-density lipoprotein), a type of cholesterol which is linked to coronary heart disease. Because of this, scientists have come up with MCT oil, a new oil sourced from coconut oil, but without all the harmful side effects. But what is it good for? What benefits can you expect from using it?

Bowl of cooking oil

What Is MCT Oil?

MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, a man-made saturated fatty acid. These medium-chain triglycerides help your body to metabolize fat more efficiently, assist in improving cognitive function, and encourage healthy weight management. It is derived from other carrier oils and foods, such as palm, olive, cheese, butter and kernel oil and contains both strains of medium to long-chain triglycerides (LDL). LDL's, on the other hand, often get stored as fat and other things that your body doesn't necessarily need as much of, such as sugar and processed ingredients. However, saturated fats aren't necessarily a bad thing, but MCT is a "superfood" that may change how the foods that we eat are digested, all thanks to its efficient, fat-burning capabilities.

Coconut oil

Health Benefits of MCT Oil

MCT oil gets its hype due to its chain structure. Unlike pure coconut oil, MCT oil has been linked to weight loss and a higher metabolic rate than traditional butter and oils due to its shorter strand of triglycerides and saturated fat. Other studies show that MCT oil can also help stop gastrointestinal conditions in its tracks. While some people aren't necessarily able to absorb highly-fatty oils, MCT oil helps to move along the process of digestion, a highly beneficial trait in improving the assimilation of nutrients that the body needs.

Hormone Regulation

Studies show that what we eat directly affects our mood. MCT oil encourages the production of good bacteria within the gut and banishes yeasts, parasites, viruses, and fungi due to its natural lauric acid content. Lauric acid kills the harmful microorganisms that can lead to hormone imbalances. According to research, other advantages of MCT oil include:

  • Reduced blood sugar
  • Appetite regulation
  • Improved glucose levels
  • Elevated energy and vitality
  • Alleviated PMS symptoms
  • Encourages thyroid hormone creation

Appetite Suppression

Coconut oil can cause a substantial amount of weight gain due to its high-fat content, especially if ingested beyond your daily caloric limitations. While Omega-3's and fatty acids from seeds and nuts are stored within tissues and cells of the body, MCT is absorbed directly into the bloodstream, which is able to curb your appetite and aid in burning fat more quickly. MCT also inspires a speedy metabolism and encourages the feeling of fullness much longer, both factors that contributes to weight loss.

Weight Loss

MCT oil can help with weight loss in multiple ways, including increasing fullness and burning calories. They can also help lower energy density since MCTs provide around 10% fewer calories than LCTs. MCTs are absorbed more rapidly, they are less likely to be stored as fat. Although studies have found positive effects of MCTs when incorporated with weight loss, others have found no effect. MCT should not be the only factor in a weight loss plan.

Cholesterol and Diabetes

MCTs have been linked to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Improving cholesterol and antioxidant levels can reduced the risk of heart disease over the long term. However, older studies report that MCT supplements had no effects or even negative effects on cholesterol. Supplementing with MCTs has even improved diabetes risk factors. It reduced body weight, waist circumference and insulin resistance.

Bowl and bottle of oil

Brain Function

Ketones are produced by MCTs, which act as an alternative energy source for the brain and can ultimately improve brain function. A study showed improved learning, memory, and brain processing in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Studies are still being conducted in order to test the effects of MCT on brain function

How To Use MCT Oil

While MCT oil can be utilized in a variety of dishes, it is highly volatile when heated and should be consumed without cooking. It is a clear and tasteless oil, so it can be paired with any type of food for added nutrients. The recommended daily amount is only about 1-2 tablespoons, which contains about 100 calories each, to reap the full benefits. MCT oil is similar to flaxseed or walnut oil and may be taken alone or with salad dressings, fruits and vegetables, smoothies, teas, coffee or any of your favorite foods. However, if you have never tried MCT oil, it is suggested that you start with 1 tablespoon, then work your way up to more per day to see how your digestive system responds. Again, you should not be solely dependent on MCT oil for some of its health benefits. Studies are still in the works, please consult with your doctor about additional weight loss options.

Where to Purchase MCT Oil

MCT oil can be purchased at any of your local health food stores and supplement retailers and can also be consumed in powder form. However, medical-grade MCT oil isn't available to the public, so you will only have access to proprietary blends, which contain a percentage of MCT, but are not 100% pure. However, the best mixture contains coconut oil, palm oil or derivatives of both.

MCT is gaining attention as more people delve into living a healthier lifestyle. While MCT isn't necessarily available in its purest form, it is still easy to come by in a variety of foods and supplements. If you are looking to lose weight, eat healthier, or to simply experiment with MCT oil, keep these handy tips in mind to be added to your grocery list.

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