Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) are medium-chain fats which are naturally present in coconut, palm and dairy products. As the name says, the fatty chains are medium in length which makes them easily digestible and triglyceride refers to fat.
MCTs come with the numerous health benefits due to which they are extracted primarily from coconut, and separately consumed as MCT oil. It is widely used in salads, smoothies and bulletproof coffee. It is also used as a dietary supplement by people on keto diet, by strength and endurance athletes.
MCTs are of four types - Caproic acid (C6), Caprylic acid (C8), Capric acid (C10) and Lauric acid (C12). Major benefits of MCT revolves around burning fat, boosting metabolism and acting as an instant energy source.
Let us discuss some of the reasons that make MCT oil good for our health.
1. Aids in Weight Loss - MCT oil is beneficial for people aiming to lose or maintain weight. This is because MCT oil has been shown to promote the secretion of two hormones in the body - leptin and peptide YY, which are responsible for providing satiety to us. In addition, people on ketogenic diets prefer high fat and low carb diets to promote the formation of ketones in the body. MCT oil assists in the same by acting as a fat-derived energy source.
2. Provides Instant Energy - MCT oil acts as a source of instant energy due to their rapidly digesting ability. Since they do not require bile for metabolising in the body, therefore, stored in the liver and provides immediate energy when needed. Due to this, they are used during intense endurance activities by athletes to meet their high energy demands without causing any load on the gut.
3. Acts as Fuel for Brain - Glucose is the prime source of energy for our brain but during the absence of glucose for example in the starved state, MCT acts as fuel or energy source for the brain. This is because of the potential of ketone bodies to cross the blood-brain barrier. This excellent attribute also makes MCT good for people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as an energy source, where the ability of the body to utilise carbs gets impaired.
4. Possess Anti-Microbial Properties - Medium-chain fats especially lauric acid possess excellent anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. This helps boost our immune health, protect us from infections and illnesses.
5. Boost Heart Health - MCT oil has been shown to support the levels of HDL or good cholesterol in the body and suppress the levels of certain inflammatory markers, making it good for our heart health.
6. Improves Insulin Sensitivity - By promoting fat burning and boosting metabolic rate, MCT helps lose weight and minimises fat storage. In addition, some studies support the action of MCT in maintaining blood sugar levels and decreasing insulin resistance. Hence, it reduces the risk of developing metabolic disorders like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
To sum up, MCT oil has many health benefits and if required, MCT supplements can also be used. Due to the bitter taste and pungent odour of C6 MCT, it is comparatively used in a lesser amount as compared to others in dietary supplements. 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil can be used per day to enjoy the health benefits. Overconsumption should be avoided to prevent excess deposition of fat in the liver.