You’ve most likely heard of bulletproof coffee and its many variations — a tablespoon of ghee butter, heavy whipping cream, or coconut oil mixed in with your morning coffee. Instead of fueling up with oatmeal, chia pudding, or granola, you load your coffee up with all these different kinds of healthy fats.
The trend has hit the health world like a storm.
It may seem a little crazy at first, but the science behind fueling up with healthy fats has shown many positive health benefits including weight loss, healthy cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and a healthy decrease in appetite. One of the rising healthy fat-favorites in this new fat-friendly trend is MCT oil.
What is MCT Oil?
Out of the most popular plant-based fats is coconut oil. This tropical and delicious fatty ingredient reigns supreme due to its creamy texture, light coconut flavoring, and incredible diversity of uses. Yet, when it comes to getting a powerful punch of healthy fat, there’s a new champion taking on the incredible hulk of coconut oil. A champion that comes directly from coconut oil.
Say hello to MCT oil.
MCT stands for medium-chain triglyceride referring to a substance that “contains medium-length chains of fats called triglycerides,” which, due to their short length, makes them “easily digested and many health benefits are linked to the way your body processes these fats.”
MCT oil is generally extracted from coconut oil. Why is coconut such a great source? Turns out that “more than 50% of the fat in coconut oil comes from MCTs.” Yet, medium-chain triglycerides are also found in palm oil and dairy products. Breaking it down further, you’ll find multiple types of medium-chain triglycerides. The ones you want to focus on for all those wonderful health benefits is caprylic and capric acid.
Caprylic acid is one of those wonderful nutrients that you probably don’t know about. Along with being a “beneficial saturated fatty acid that has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties,” it has also been linked to the “prevention of urinary tract infections, bladder infections, Candida, sexually transmitted diseases, oral infections like gingivitis and many other conditions.” Capric acid is very similar to caprylic acid and has been shown to help in weight loss, boost energy, and has antiviral and antimicrobial properties. When working in tandem with caprylic acid, capric acid has been shown to boost healthy HDL cholesterol levels and lower bad LDL cholesterol.
Health Benefits of MCT Oil
We’ve been referring to purported health benefits from consuming these medium-chain triglycerides and now we’ll take a deep dive into what they are. Keep in mind, these are just a few of the highlighted health benefits of this medium-chain triglyceride.
With that said, it’s important to note that the human body has the ability to adapt to the effects of MCT oil over a certain period of use. More research is needed to see the long-term effects of MCT oil.
Healthy Weight Management
MCT has been shown to promote healthy weight loss and healthy weight management. First off, this high-powered fat has been “shown to increase the release of two hormones that promote the feeling of fullness in the body: peptide YY and leptin.” In part, this may be due to the fact that MCT oil has “10% fewer calories than long-chain triglycerides.” These LCT’s are consumed via plant-based fats such as “olive oil, nuts, and avocados.”
MCT oil has also been shown to work in tandem with ketosis in such a way that promotes weight loss. How does this work? In short, medium-chain triglycerides, “can be converted into ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fat when carb intake is low.”
Promotes Healthy Gut Bacteria
MCT oil has been shown to “help optimize the growth of good bacteria and support the gut lining.” A healthy gut has been linked to both a healthy overall body and a healthy mental state. A study performed in May of 2016 on the gut microbiota and medium-chain triglycerides concluded that “gut microbiota structure may not only serve as a biomarker of those metabolic states but can also be subjected to a diet-induced remodeling.” This remodeling that they refer to is particularly affected by dietary MCT which was shown to have the capacity to “prevent intestinal permeability/endotoxemia … and to prevent unhealthy storage by improving the lipid catabolism/anabolism balance.”
While other fats and glucose go through an arduous journey to be broken down by the body and then served out to whoever needs them for energy, MCT oil acts as a straight shot through our digestive tract. Medium-chain triglycerides go “straight from the gut to the liver and do not require bile to break down as longer-chain fats do.” This makes them not only a sustained energy source but a quick one as well.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Medium-chain triglycerides have an almost accidental positive effect on your risk of heart disease. Due to the fact that MCT oil has multiple avenues for helping weight loss and healthy weight management, it also happens to lower the risk factors that go along with heart disease. Studies have shown that MCT may also reduce cholesterol, in particular, lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL, as well as reducing the inflammatory markers for heart disease risk.
Sports Research Premium MCT Oil/Amazon.com
While you can get medium chain triglycerides by consuming coconut oil, you are also consuming extra calories. For those that simply want the fat without those extra calories, such as in bulletproof coffee, there a few options. MCT oil is available in supplemental form as an oil, powder, and as capsules.
Nature’s Way 100% Potency Pure Source MCT Oil from Coconut/Amazon.com
As the trend has grown, so have the wide array of options when it comes to the pure oil form. This is one of the most popular ways to consume MCTs. It’s easy to take as a straight shot for energy or, because it’s tasteless, simply added to your favorite beverage or smoothie. With that said, you still want to follow the same guidelines as other supplements and seek out organic and non-GMO varieties such as this Nature’s Way 100% Potency Pure Source MCT Oil from Coconut.
Viva Naturals MCT Oil Powder/Amazon.com
The powder form of MCT is great for culinary purposes such as creating creamy coffee, bulkier smoothies, or even in certain stews, bakes, or baking recipes. When traveling, oils can be very messy, but the powder packs very easily making it a great option for taking to work or for an after-gym workout boost! This all-natural Viva Naturals MCT Oil Powder offers a no clump or grittiness guarantee!
NutriONN MCT Oil Capsule/Amazon.com
Last, but not least, are the traditional supplement capsules. They are the easiest for the person on the go. If you don’t want to mess with oils and powders or simply want the medium chain triglyceride benefits without concocting another culinary dish to use it in, then this is the one for you. As stated earlier, always look for organic and non-GMO varieties — preferably with a vegetarian or vegan capsule, if you can find it — such as this NutriONN MCT Oil Capsule supplement.
Ways to Use MCT Oil in Plant-Based Cooking
Mint Matcha Shake/One Green Planet
For those who would rather get creative in the kitchen, MCT oil is great for cooking. MCT oil is flavorless — therefore you can add it to pretty much any dish without worrying about diluting flavors — and MCT oil does not solidify at room temperature (much like olive or avocado oil), which means you don’t have to worry about melting and it blends easily.
With that said, make sure to use low to medium heat as the “smoke point of MCT oil is 320 degrees Fahrenheit,” and “anything above 320 [degrees Fahrenheit] will start to damage the fats, making the powers of MCT oil less potent.”
Thick and Creamy Hot Chocolate/One Green Planet
One of the easiest ways to use MCT oil and MCT powder is in your favorite beverage. The powder is best used in coffee drinks, such as this High-Protein Caramel Cappuccino, or in smoothies, such as this Mint Matcha Shake. With that said, the oil is much more versatile. You can add it to your favorite tea, such as this Hot Lemon Belly Aid, or your favorite comfort drink, such as this Thick and Creamy Hot Chocolate, or even a cocktail, such as this Berry Cocktail.
Cilantro Mango Dressing/One Green Planet
Since MCT oil is flavorless you can pretty much add it to any of your favorite condiments and reap the wonderful health benefits. Because condiments are generally used in smaller amounts, quantity control is easier than adding it to an entire dish. Add a small amount to traditional hummus, such as this Zucchini Hummus, your favorite dip or sauce, such as this White Bean Cheese Sauce, or salad dressing, such as this Cilantro Mango Dressing.
Butternut Squash Gnocchi/One Green Planet
When it comes down to it, MCT oil is just another oil — albeit a very concentrated fatty oil — but an oil. Therefore feel free to replace your traditional olive, coconut, or avocado oils with MCT oil. With that said, remember that medium-chain triglyceride oil is straight fat, so you may want to combine with other oils or use in smaller amounts. Try it out on low-heat stovetop recipes such as this African Peanut Stew, Gingery Yellow Rice, or this Butternut Squash Gnocchi.
For more recipe ideas for your new MCT oil obsession, we highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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