Thanks to the newest diet craze, the Keto Diet, along with the popularity of Bulletproof Coffee (a combination of coffee, butter and MCT oil), your health has gotten a new ally in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and all the benefits they have to offer. When MCTs are made into MCT oil and, in particular, emulsified MCT oil, they can be utilized for optimal nutritional benefits.
WHAT ARE MCTs?
MCT stands for medium-chain triglyceride. MCTs are a form of saturated fatty acids that provide you with many health benefits, including improved cognitive function and weight control. MCTs may also be called MCFAs, which stands for medium-chain fatty acids. “Standard Western” diets are largely devoid of MCTs because we have been led to believe that all forms of saturated fats are potentially harmful to our bodies. However, we now know that foods with MCTs, like coconut oil, can and should be consumed every day.
Besides coconut oil, smaller amounts of MCTs can be found in certain other foods with saturated fats, including butter from grass-fed cows, certain cheeses, palm oil, whole milk and full-fat yogurt. They are also made in liquid supplement form, called MCT oil, that can be added to a variety of foods and beverages for extra health benefits.
WHY ARE MCTs HEALTHY FOR YOU?
MCTs are named for the length of their chemical structure. All fatty acids are made up of connected strings of carbon and hydrogen. Fats are categorized by how many carbons they have – short-chain fats have less than six carbons, medium-chain fats have six to 12 carbons and long-chain fats (like avocado oil, olive oil and omega-3s) have between 13 and 21 carbons.
MCTs are a great source of healthy fats because they are digested easily and travel directly to your liver, where they have a thermo-genic effect and can positively alter your metabolism. Since MCTs are a more readily available energy source than long-chain fatty acids, MCT oil aids in ketosis – which is when your body burns fat for fuel instead of storing it.
MCTs are absorbed more easily than long-chain fats because your body doesn’t have to work as hard to break apart the carbon bonds. MCTs are also smaller, so they can permeate your cell membranes easier and they don’t require any special enzymes for you body to utilize them.
There are four different types of MCTs, each with a different number of carbon atoms. These include caprioc acid (6 carbon), caprylic acid (8 carbon), capric acid (10 carbon) and lauric acid (12 carbon). The lower number of carbons the acid has, the faster the body can turn the fatty acids into usable energy. No matter what kind of MCT, they are all beneficial for overall health – especially if you have absorption or digestive issues like leaky gut syndrome, Crohn’s disease or gallbladder problems.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF MCTs?
Weight Loss and Management. MCTs have a positive effect on fat burning and weight reduction. When used as part of a healthy diet, MCT oil can help you feel fuller longer and raise metabolism. Dietary MCTs suppress fat deposition because of their heating effect (thermogenesis) in the body, fat oxidation and ability to readily be used for energy.
Protects Your Heart. MCTs may be able to help decrease cardiovascular disease due to the lowered odds of becoming obese when taken. They can also help prevent the development of certain metabolic disorders, such as abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension and impaired fasting glucose levels.
Improves Energy Level, Mood and Cognitive Function. Since your brain is mostly made up of fatty acids, you need a steady supply of them from your diet to feel good, think clearly and perform at your best. Medium-chain fats are both the most easily digested and protective fatty acids that exist. MCTs also improve your gut health, which is largely connected to cognitive functioning because of the “gut-brain connection.”
Supports Digestion and Nutrient Absorption. MCTs balance bacteria in your gut and have a positive effect on digestion, energy expenditure and vitamin and mineral absorption. When you eat a healthy diet filled with a variety of whole, plant foods, you need to consume healthy fats like MCTs in order to absorb fat-soluble nutrients found in these foods. These nutrients include beta-carotene, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and lutein.
Gives Antibacterial, Antiviral and Antifungal Support. MCTs are powerful, natural antibiotics that help balance and kill harmful bacteria in the gut. Bacteria that can be killed by medium-chain fats include, streptococcus (causing strep throat, pneumonia and sinus infections), staphylococcus (causing food poisoning and urinary tract infections), Neisseria (causing meningitis, gonorrhea and pelvic inflammatory disease) and others that cause stomach viruses, candida, ulcers and sexually transmitted diseases.
MCTs also offer better infection protection than long-chain fatty acids, and they are able to reduce “bad” bacteria without touching the “good” bacteria. The good kind of bacteria is needed for intestinal health and digestive functioning.
Provides Disease Treatment and Protection. For people suffering from epilepsy, MCTs are able to provide brain cells with an energy source that is more efficient than glucose, allowing for better metabolic changes and seizure control. MCTs may also help prevent neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s patients, the spread of cancer and insulin resistance in those with type 2 diabetes.
WHAT IS MCT OIL COMPARED TO EMULSIFIED MCT OIL?
The supplement form of MCTs – MCT oil – is made up of highly concentrated medium-chain fatty acids, providing optimal health benefits. Coconut oil, while containing MCTs (about 40 to 50%), also has other fats. MCT oil is tasteless, odorless and stays liquid at room temperature.
MCT oil will separate when mixed with liquids (unless a blender is used), but emulsified MCT oil is water soluble and mixes well with both hot and cold liquids. It looks like milk or cream and, in fact, can be used just like coffee creamer, but with much better health benefits. Both offer the same benefits, including weight reduction, increased metabolism and improved mood, but emulsified MCT oil contains additional benefits not found in regular MCT oil.
WHAT ARE THE ADDED BENEFITS OF EMULSIFIED MCT OIL?
Easier to Digest. Your body needs to work hard to emulsify and digest the dietary fats you consume. This is made even more difficult if you have had your gallbladder removed, for example, because you would lack bile salts that are essential for the digestion. Emulsified MCT oil eliminates this issue, so your body has a much easier and quicker time digesting them.
Easier to Use. Regular MCT oil won’t mix easily into water-soluble liquids, such as coffee or tea. They require blending or other mechanical means to mix them together. Emulsified MCT oil can easily be added to liquids and blended in with just a spoon.
HOW DO YOU USE EMULSIFIED MCT OIL?
One of the best ways to use it is by adding a teaspoon to your morning coffee or tea, just like creamer. It also works well added to:
- Protein shakes
- Milk shakes
SHOULD YOU USE EMULSIFIED MCT OIL?
Adding healthy oils, such as emulsified MCT oil, to a nutritionally sound diet (one full of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains) is always a good idea. MCTs will provide you with the vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients needed to help protect you against disease.
Just keep in mind that if you eat whatever you want – whenever you want – and just add emulsified MCT oil to your coffee in the morning, you won’t improve your health. You may even add extra, unnecessary calories to your diet.
HOW MUCH EMULSIFIED MCT OIL SHOULD YOU TAKE?
You should start out taking just one teaspoon a day and work up to no more than a tablespoon. Emulsified MCT oil is typically well tolerated, but consuming too much could lead to side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and an upset stomach. Emulsified MCT oil shouldn’t be your only source of daily fat intake.
As a reminder, it’s always best to consult your doctor or a registered dietician before adding any kind of supplement to your diet. If you are wanting to add MCT oil to help a specific health concern, such as epilepsy or digestive issues, always talk to a medical professional.
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