MCTs, short for medium-chain triglycerides, are a type of saturated fat mostly derived from coconut oil and palm oil. MCTs are used and processed within the body more easily than other types of fats.
The 'medium' in MCT, which is also known as medium-chain fatty acids, has to do with the length of the chain of carbon molecules within its atoms. MCTs are composed of six to 12 carbon molecules. Most dietary fats are long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), made up of 13 to 21 carbon molecules, which are harder for the body to break down.
MCT oil is a pure derivative that almost exclusively contains medium-chain triglycerides.
In the same study that suggests that MCTs can act as thermogenic (fat burners), the researchers also found that they could help prevent the development of metabolic syndrome, the name given to a group of ailments that significantly increase the risk of heart disease. . This effect may be partly due to the anti-inflammatory properties of MCT oil.
Healthy fats, such as MCT oil, can support the gut microbiome and encourage the digestive system to properly absorb vitamins and minerals from food. At least one animal study found that MCTs can help improve the health, performance, growth and digestion of nutrients. The researchers examined the use of MCT oil and concluded that MCT oils could aid digestion due to their easy absorption.
There has been introductory research on the benefits of healthy fats, especially MCTs, on Alzheimer's disease. And while these studies are in their infancy, there is some evidence that coconut oil MCTs could help improve memory problems, including Alzheimer's disease, in the elderly.
Drug-resistant bacteria that result from overuse of antibiotics is just one of the reasons why it could help take natural antibiotics, such as MCTs, as an integral part of the diet. In addition, a study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that medium chain triglycerides with 8-12 carbon atoms showed more antiviral and antibacterial qualities than long chain monoglycerides and were able to inactivate four different types of pathogens.
However, more research is needed to draw stronger conclusions. Natural antibiotics should not be your first and only choice without consulting a doctor.
What is the difference between MCT oil and coconut oil?
Though it's true that coconut oil contains MCTs, the primary difference between coconut oil and MCT oil is purity. Coconut oil is made up of approximately 60 percent MCTs and other fats constitute the rest of its composition. MCT oil is comprised entirely of MCTs.
Because lauric acid is the medium-chain triglyceride found in the highest quantities in coconut oil — accounting for 76 percent of coconut oil's MCTs — it isn't digested as quickly or as efficiently as pure MCT oil, which is made up of only capric and caprylic acids.
MCT oil is tasteless, odorless and liquid at room temperature, making it easy to use in a diverse range of applications, while coconut oil has a strong smell and a distinct taste and is solid at room temperature.