In this article we’ll cover the following:
If you’re fond of using coconut oil and reading tons of articles about its benefits, there’s a huge chance that you’ve come across the words ‘medium chain triglycerides’ or ‘medium-chain fatty acids.’ But, how well do you know about MCTs?
Just like any other oil, composing the coconut oil are fat molecules called fatty acids. These fatty acids are categorized as saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated. The classification depends on the size of molecules of the carbon chain. There are short-chain fatty acids, medium-chain fatty acids, and long-chain fatty acids. Joining three fatty acids makes a triglyceride. So medium-chain fatty acids are also called as medium chain triglycerides (MCT).
The fatty foods we eat almost every day are made up of long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). They’re difficult to break down and are usually stored in our body. This kind of triglyceride may be deposited within your arteries to form lipids such as cholesterol.
However, coconut oil, which is considered “superfood” by some, is made up of medium chain triglycerides. The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil include lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid. These fatty acids contain properties that may help heal infections and improve one’s digestion. Unlike long chain triglycerides, MCTs are easily digested and processed in the liver. It helps burn fat faster by turning the acids to energy instead of fat.
It even aids in improving your metabolism that may result in weight loss.
Compared to LCT, the MCT’s molecules are smaller. So the required energy is lesser, and the enzymes for breaking them down are fewer for digestion.
With MCT present in our body, it has more fuel to perform better. As mentioned earlier, MCT is directly processed in the liver turning them to energy. Since MCTs are quickly absorbed into the body by the cells that produce energy, the body’s capability to metabolize increases. When our metabolism is boosted, our cells function more efficiently. A better metabolism can also prevent obesity, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
Due to coconut oil’s MCTs which can increase metabolism, digestion and energy levels, it’s possible for you to lose some extra weight while taking coconut oil. The MCT produces about 8.3 calories/gram compared to LCT’s 9 calories/gram.
Coconut oil’s lauric acid contains healing properties against infections caused by bacteria, virus, fungi, and protozoa. The lauric acid, which is an MCT, when inside our body converts to monolaurin which the antimicrobial properties come from. It can help destroy lipid-coated viruses such as Herpes, Measles, and others. Capric acid also helps in healing such infections.
Another benefit of lauric acid is the capability to help reduce inflammation in certain situations. It has anti-inflammatory properties that may aid in reducing swelling especially those associated with joint pain.
The long chain saturated fats may cause cholesterol buildup and may harm the heart. Conversely, the medium chain fatty acids decrease total cholesterol. It helps eliminate and prevent the ‘bad’ LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol buildup and increases the ‘good’ HDL (high-density lipoproteins) cholesterol. It helps decrease the risk of coronary heart disease.