By now many of us know healthy fats in our diet are extremely important; our cells require proper fat intake to function optimally. There’s many different types of healthy fats, though, so we want to debunk one type that’s circulating the wellness world as of late – MCTs. Commonly available now in the pure form of MCT oil, these special fatty acids are gaining popularity for their assistance in energy, brain function and weight loss.
What are MCTs?
Medium-Chain Triglycerides, MCTs for short, are fatty acids made up of 6 to 12 carbons in length. While available naturally through food, they aren’t abundant in the western diet where long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) are more commonly consumed. Foods high in these types of fatty acids are coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and dairy products such as cheese, butter, milk and yogurt. None of these consist solely of MCTs, rather a combination of various fatty acids; whereas using MCT oil provides a direct and more bioavailable source of these sought after fats.
What’s so special about MCTs?
The uniqueness of MCTs comes down to a molecular level; the body is able to digest them quickly and utilize them as an efficient energy source. These types of fatty acids are sent straight to the liver, whereas LCTs must go through a much longer digestive path. Once in the liver MCTs are converted into ketones and can be used for energy almost immediately. For example, the brain specifically can utilize MCTs for energy rather than using glucose or sugar. Since these fat calories are used right away, your body is less likely to store extra fat from them; this is the reasoning the ketogenic diet, or training your body to use ketones for energy, has been related to weight loss.
What are the real health benefits?
While a bit more time-extended research is needed, including MCTs into your diet shows to:
– Promote overall brain health, improve memory, aid brain fog, and be beneficial with those suffering from mild Alzheimer’s.
– Be an adequate immune booster, offering anti-bacterial, -viral, and -fungal properties. MCTs can also encourage a healthy microbiome as they are a natural antimicrobial, helping to kill off unwanted pathogenic bacteria.
– Aid weight loss in several ways, as stated prior they can be used for energy quickly and not stored as fat. They also function as a thermogenic being useful to boost metabolism. Plus, consuming them can help you achieve satiety, increase appetite reducing hormones and help you feel full longer.
– Increase absorption of other beneficial fatty acids, such as Omega-3s, creating a ‘healthy fat synergy’.
– Enhance exercise endurance and performance; when compared to consuming LCTs, athletes consuming MCTs could endure high intensity workouts to a greater extent.
– Help balance blood sugar levels and provide a role in diabetes prevention or management, such as reversing insulin resistance.
– Aid in supporting liver health, heart health and balancing cholesterol levels.
How do I include MCTs into my diet?
While MCTs are naturally found in some foods, to truly increase your daily intake of them we are big supporters of supplementing with a pure MCT oil, such as Nutiva’s Organic MCT Oil. Their MCT oil is derived completely from organic virgin coconut oil, simply extracting the parts that are a different fatty acid. Nutiva’s MCT oil is the first USDA certified organic MCT oil, using no chemicals or filler oils during their extraction process. It is also non-GMO verified, contains no additives, offers 13g MCTs per serving, is vegan and paleo friendly!
Some other great options we carry are Garden of Life’s Unflavored MCT oil, which similar to Nutiva’s offers 13g of organic and coconut-derived MCTs, and Barlean’s MCT Swirl which comes in a yummy coconut flavor.
One thing to note when introducing MCT oil into your diet is to start SLOW, without a tolerance too much at once may cause stomach/GI issues. A safe place to start is 1 tsp/day, then work your way up to 2-3 tbsp/day, depending on your preference. MCT oil does have a low smoke point and is not suitable for cooking, however it is an easy addition to your smoothie, salad dressing, coffee, or even raw snack recipes.