The Health Benefits of MCTs
The Health Benefits of MCTs
By Maria Therese Viall CHHP, CNP, ROHP
MCTs, also known as medium-chain triglycerides, have become a popular health trend in recent years. With studies showing a variety of health benefits from increased energy to weight loss, it is no wonder this easy to implement source of fat is gaining ground.
What is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT)?
A medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) is in reference to the chemical structure of a fat. Every fat contains chains of carbon molecules connected to hydrogen atoms. There are short, medium and long-chain triglycerides depending on the number of carbons.
- Short-chain (SCT): 6 carbons or less
- Medium-chain (MCT): Between 6-12 carbons
- Long-chain (LCT): Between 13-21 carbons
How do MCTs work in the body?
A lot of the health benefits stem from the way the body processes MCTs in comparison to longer-chain triglycerides (LCTs). A majority of fats found in today’s diet are made up of LCTs and require a longer digestive process. Rather than rely on bile from your gallbladder and pancreatic enzymes released by your digestive system to break it down like LCTs do, MCTs are directly transported to your liver through your intestines. Your liver than converts the oil into ketones that are then distributed throughout the body, including your brain. This process makes MCTs readily available for energy rather than being stored as fat.
What are the health benefits?
Aside from readily available energy as mentioned above, MCTs have been associated with various health benefits.
- Easy to digest: Due to the quick breakdown process in the body, MCTs have minimal stress on the digestive tract, especially for those without a gallbladder.
- Neurologically protective: The ketones from the liver are able to cross the blood-brain barrier and provide fuel to the brain.
- Improve cardiovascular health: MCTs have been shown to help lower total lipid levels, which has a positive impact on overall heart health.
- Keep blood sugar stable: Unlike carbohydrates, ketones from MCTs do not cause insulin to increase upon consumption. This helps keep blood sugar levels from rising.
- Can aid in weight loss: MCTs are thought to act on various hormones associated with appetite and satiety, including gastric inhibitory peptide, cholecystokinin and neurotensin.
- Improve gut health: Due to its antiviral/antibacterial properties, MCTs have shown some evidence in balancing gut bacteria and support overall immune health.
How to use MCTs?
The best food sources of MCTs are found in high quality coconut oil. It is important that you look for brands that are third party tested, do not bleach the oils and do not contain hexane. However, the amount of MCTs and quality can vary from manufacturer.
Supplementing with MCT oil that is an easy way to start incorporating it into your diet. Make sure it is sourced from coconut oil vs. palm oil. Most MCT oils are tasteless and can be added to smoothies, coffee or tea. It is suggested to start with a smaller dose such as 1 teaspoon per day and slowly build up to 1 tablespoon to help the body increase tolerance.
tera’s Coconut Splash Emulsion is a delicious option that provides 6.8 grams of MCT per serving and is sourced from coconut oil. It easily blends it into your morning coffee or can add a hint of bourbon vanilla to your daily smoothie. No matter your preference, Tera’s Coconut Splash Emulsion can be a simple way to add MCTs to your daily nutrients.