By Emily Hirsch, MS, RD
For years we were all shamed for eating fatty foods and told they were the enemy of a healthy diet. But due to some revealing science on the role of sugar consumption in heart health, the tide has turned. It is now widely recognized that consuming certain fats is important for your health. Medium-chain triglycerides, otherwise known as MCTs, are a type of fat that may have far-reaching benefits for your well-being.
All fats are made of linked hydrogen and carbon molecules. They are classified by how many carbons they contain. MCTs have between 6 and 12 carbon molecules.
MCTs are used as CBD carrier oils, and are naturally occurring in coconut oil, palm oil, human breast milk and some full-fat dairy products. But the fats in many of the foods you eat are considered long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), having 12 or more carbon molecules. LCTs take longer to break down than MCTs and are stored as fat in your liver. LCTs are found in meat, fish, avocado, nuts, seeds and soybean oil.
Compared with other fats, MCTs are easily digestible due to their unique chemical structure, providing a fast-acting energy source.
Although fats frequently get a bad reputation for being the cause of disease, for ideal health, fats are necessary and essential in the diet. Fat should make up between 20 and 35 percent of your daily calories. Omega-3s and omega-6 fats are the only two fats considered “essential,” but they’re not the only beneficial fats: MCTs can also have their place in a healthy diet.
Compared with other fats, MCTs are easily digestible due to their unique chemical structure, providing a fast-acting energy source. If you are following a low-carbohydrate diet, MCT supplementation is an attractive option as it promotes the conversion of fat (versus carbohydrate) to energy, all while providing a metabolism boost.
The benefits of MCT oil supplementation don’t help only those following a low carbohydrate diet; MCT oil can promote health and wellness in many ways.
Aids in Weight Management
It may seem counterintuitive to take a “fat” supplement to help with weight management, but research shows that MCT oil supplementation may reduce body fat, increase metabolism and help you feel fuller for longer.
One study compared the effects of coconut oil (an MCT oil) versus olive oil (an LCT oil) on body fat, energy expenditure and appetite control. Researchers found that participants who consumed coconut oil experienced increased metabolism, reduced body fat, and decreased appetite compared with the participants who consumed olive oil.
Additionally, a recent meta-analysis determined that people who replaced at least 5 grams of long-chain triglycerides with medium-chain triglycerides experienced reduced body weight.
Moreover, a recent study compared the satiating effects of adding MCT oil (coconut oil) versus LCT oil (vegetable oil) to a smoothie. Researchers found that a smoothie that included MCT oil suppressed appetite and helped people eat less at lunch compared with one that included vegetable oil.
Improves Gut Health
The gut microbe refers to the thousands of species of bacteria in your gut that impact your overall health. Having diverse and healthy bacteria in your gut can improve digestive issues, a sluggish metabolism, and enhance your overall well-being.
One study reviewed the impact of MCTs on the gut microbiome and found some promising results. MCT oil helped to significantly reduce the production of pathogenic bacteria found within the microbiome, decreased permeability of the intestines (which reduced inflammation), and improved the metabolism of participants.
Supports Health Heart
MCTs may also play a role in helping to protect heart health by lowering cholesterol. A 2015 study evaluated the effect of MCTs on cholesterol and weight and found that MCTs reduced waist circumference and increased HDL — or “good” cholesterol — levels.
Effective Carrier Oil
MCT is the gold standard as a carrier oil for CBD. The unique chemical structure of MCT oil allows for it to be readily absorbed and metabolized directly by the liver. This enhances the bioavailability of CBD as well as any oils that are mixed with it, including essential oils.
MCT oil has also been shown to have therapeutic benefitsof its own, including antibacterial properties, skin health and cognitive enhancement. Moreover, MCT oil has no flavor or odor, making it perfect to blend with other types of oil.
If you’ve avoided fat in the past, now is the time to reconsider this helpful nutrient. MCT oil supplementation has the potential to improve your health in a variety of ways. As the emerging research on MCT oil continues to unfold, so do the exciting and promising benefits of this truly unique oil.