MCT Oil is Food For Your Brain

MCT oil gained popularity a handful of years ago as an optional ingredient in the original Bulletproof coffee (often known as buttered coffee). Since then, its presence has exploded on the wellness market. Maybe you’ve eyed it in your local health food store, a little skeptical and put off by unnatural sound of the product.

Let’s be real, it sounds like something bodybuilders would pour into their post-workout protein shakes. But MCT can do a lot for you, too.

So what is it? And what’s the big deal?

MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. To get a little nerdy, that means that the fatty acid chain is about 6 to 10 carbons long. And yes, there are long-chain triglycerides (LCT) as well. Both MCTs and LCTs are forms of saturated fat, with long-chain triglycerides being much more common in the Western diet. The length of the triglyceride is actually really important because it affects how easily the body digests and uses the fatty acids. Due to their increased length and digestive complexity, LCTs take quite a while for the body to break down and utilize.

On the other hand, MCTs are really easy for the body to break down and use immediately as fuel. They don’t require bile for breakdown and can easily transfer from the digestive system straight into the bloodstream. That’s why the Palo and ketogenic worlds rave about it. But they are much harder to come by in normal, whole food sources.

Coconut background. Fresh coconuts on white background. Flat lay, top view

If you’re looking for a naturally occurring source, coconut oil is loaded with it. (Yes, the humble coconut never ceases to amaze.) The fat in coconut oil is actually 15 percent medium-chain triglycerides (excluding lauric acid, technically an LCT), which is the highest of any natural food source.

Grass-fed butter/ghee and full-fat yogurt hover around 7 percent MCTs, while palm kernel oil contains about 9 percent. But this newfangled MCT oil is 100 percent medium chain triglycerides. Why the sudden surge of interest in medium-chain triglycerides? Here are the health-promoting basics…

It’s crazy good for your noggin.

The brain uses medium-chain triglycerides readily for fuel, since they are easily digested. Consuming more medium-chain triglycerides has been shown to improve both memory and focus. And that’s not just in people who have 3 o’clock brain fog. It has been effective in helping those with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s as well.

It improves fat metabolism.

Not only does MCT oil make you feel fuller and more satisfied so that you’re less likely to overeat, but it also increases your metabolic rate and prevents your body from converting extra carbohydrates into fats. This is because MCTs are really helpful for encouraging ketosis, a process through which your body starts burning fat for energy rather than sugar.

Coconut pattern on white background. Flat lay, top view, square

It supports your immune system.

Pure MCTs actually help to balance the microbiome—the real hand at the wheel when it comes to your immune function. They help combat gut pathogens and promote balance among healthy gut populations. (But coconut oil is even a more powerful immune boosters than MCT oil. More on that in a moment.)

It balances blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

MCT seems to improve insulin sensitivity, which is no surprise since any diet higher in healthy fats and lower in carbs seems to do so. In fact, it can help to reverse insulin resistance and greatly reduce your diabetes risk. The healthy fatty acids in MCTs also improve cholesterol levels by lowering LDL and increasing HDL markers, which can reduce the risk for heart disease and obesity.

Looking to add MCT oil into your diet? MCT oil is easy to find online and in certain health food stores. Incorporate it into your regular routine by blending it into your morning coffee or tea, mixing it into jars of nut butter, adding it to smoothies or just drizzling it over salads and meals. The flavor is relatively neutral and odorless, unlike straight virgin coconut oil. Just be sure to buy high quality MCT oil, as you want to ensure yourself the cleanest product possible.

It’s important to note that some people with sensitive systems experience slight digestive distress (cramping and diarrhea) when first taking MCT oil, specifically with blends with more caproic acid (6 carbons long). This is generally short-lived, but worth noting.

Then again, you could just eat more coconut oil (if you’re not already using it for everything). Coconut oil is less refined and boasts the added benefit of containing lauric acid, a MCT/LCT hybrid that lends coconut oil its renowned antimicrobial/antiviral/antibacterial properties (mostly in the gut, but even against acne).

There are many critics who claim coconut oil is much healthier than pure MCT oil due to its incredibly high lauric acid content, even though it contains a lower density of MCTs. Plus, you can cook with coconut oil much more readily than MCT oil, since it tolerates high heat much better.

How do you feel about trying MCT oil as a supplementary oil? Have you tried MCT oil in a Bulletproof coffee? Share your experiences below.    

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94 comments

Melisa B
Melisa B2 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Kevin B
Kevin B2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Ruth S
Ruth S5 months ago

Thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth S5 months ago

Thanks.

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Marie W
Marie W6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Cindy S
Cindy Smith10 months ago

thanks

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Cindy S
Cindy Smith10 months ago

interesting

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R11 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIEabout a year ago

Thanks

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Carl R
Carl Rabout a year ago

Thanks!

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