You’ve probably heard a lot recently at the gym and in your local grocery or health food stores about people adding coconut oil to their coffee. Oil?!?! To coffee?!?! Wait what???? Sounds gross right??? Well – not after you read this!! For a while coconut oil was being touted as THE superfood. After all, it’s high in healthy, natural fats that could not only make your skin baby soft and smooth your frizzy hair but could also convert bad cholesterol into good and speed up your metabolism too! – OOO Tell me more Luisa!!!
OK, let’s start at the beginning. Coconut oil get its great reputation because it contains medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs for short. “MCT” stands for ‘medium-chain triglycerides’ which are a form of saturated fatty acids. All types of fatty acids are made up of chains of carbon and hydrogen. MCTs get their name because of the length of their chain: 6 carbons in a chain classify a fat as a short-chain, 6-12 carbons in a chain classify a fat as a medium-chain, and 13-21 carbons in a chain classify a fat as a long-chain. There are 4 different kinds of MCT oils: caproic (C6:0), caprylic (C8:0), capric (C10:0) and lauric (C12:0) acids. Generally speaking, the shorter the chain (i.e. the lower the number of carbons), the faster the body can turn the fatty acids into energy.
Sooooo what makes MCTs so special??
They Increase Your Energy and They Reduce Stored Body Fat (Because They Raise Your Metabolic Function)
Since MCTs are so short, they are easily digested and sent directly to the liver, where they have a thermogenic effect and the ability to positively affect your metabolism. This is why many people claim that MCTs are burned by the body for energy 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 the carbon bonds apart.
They Help With Digestion and Help You Absorb Fat-Soluble Nutrients from Various Foods
MCTs don’t need bile salts to be digested and can pass directly from the digestive system to the blood stream without being modified by digestion like long chain fats. Because MCTs are so easy to absorb and use, they are often a good choice for those who struggle with digestive problems or fat absorption.
They Balance Hormone Levels
And since fats are needed for proper hormone maintenance, MCTs offer benefits for those struggling with hormone imbalances. There is also research suggesting that MCTs may be beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight by helping balance hormones and improving insulin sensitivity.
They Fight Bacterial Infections & Viruses and Help Maintain Gut Health
MCTs have antiviral and antibacterial properties and there is some evidence so suggest that they help balance gut bacteria and combat pathogenic bacteria. Those same antiviral and antibacterial properties make MCTs beneficial for the immune system as well. Healthy fats are important for proper immune function, and since MCTs can be more easily used by the body, they help boost your immune system.
They Lower Your Blood Sugar and Help You Think More Clearly
MCTs raise ketone levels and lower blood sugar naturally. They have a strong blood sugar stabilizing effect that helps to reduce inflammation and improve brain function.
They Help You Maintain a Healthy Body Weight (Because They Make You Feel Full)
Research has shown that MCTs help suppress your appetite, which helps those who struggle with cravings and overeating. In a 14 day study, 6 healthy males were put on 3 different unlimited diets: a low MCT diet, a medium MCT diet and a high MCT diet. They study found that there was a significantly lower calorie consumption for those on the high MCT diet.
The best natural source of MCTs is coconut oil. Palm oil, camphor tree oil, goat’s milk and grass-fed dairy are also good sources of MCTs. Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of C12 lauric acid. About 62–65% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are MCTs. You can also get a pure MCT oil that is made up of concentrated caprylic and capric acid. These are processed in a manufacturing plants to remove all the longer chain fats and other compounds except for these two fatty acids.