Editor's Note: This article was originally posted by Dr. Josh Axe.
6 Health Benefits of MCT Oil
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1. Can Help with Weight Loss or Maintenance
Compared to other types of oils and fats, MCTs seem to have positive effects on fat burning and weight reduction. As part of a healthy diet, MCT oil can help increase satiety and even raise the metabolic rate at which the body functions. Does this mean eating large amounts of MCTs daily will make you drop pounds? Not quite. Not every study has shown that MCTs can produce weight loss necessarily, but some definitely have shown the positive effects of MCTs on metabolic function.
How do MCTs help with weight loss? Experimental studies demonstrate that dietary MCTs suppress fat deposition through enhanced thermogenesis and fat oxidation in both animals and humans. In other words, it’s believed that they help the body produce ketones, which gives you the same benefits as the ketogenic diet without needing to cut carbs to drastically low levels. In fact, MCTs are sometimes called “the ultimate ketogenic fats” because of their heating effect in the body and ability to rapidly be used for energy, especially when someone is not eating a lot of carbohydrates.
2. Help Protect Heart Health
A 2010 study published in The Journal of Neutraceuticals and Functional Foodsreported that MCTs can help prevent the development of metabolic syndrome — a term given to a cluster of metabolic disorders such as abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension and impaired fasting glucose levels. MCTs seem to be able to help decrease cardiovascular disease and mortality risk in general due to helping lower odds of becoming obese. Most likely, they have this positive effect because they are anti-inflammatory, easy to digest, satiating and easily used for energy as described above.
3. Helps Improve Energy Levels and Your Mood
Your brain is largely made up of fatty acids, so you need a steady supply from your diet to feel your best, think clearly, perform well at work and stay sharp well into older age. Medium-chain fats are believed to be one of the most easily digested, utilized and protective fatty acids that exists.
A 2004 study published in The Journal of Neurobiology of Aging they found that the MCTs in coconut oil helped improved memory problems including Alzheimer’s disease in older adults. It only makes sense that a food that supplies fuel for your brain and also helps you absorb vitamins and minerals better will also make you feel more clear headed, energetic and positive.
MCT oil helps not only feed your brain cells, but also improves your gut health — which is largely connected to cognitive functioning thanks to the “gut-brain connection.” In one animal study published in The Journal of Animal Feed and Sciences, when pigs were either fed a standard feed mixture (the control) or the same mixture supplemented with two grams each of caprylic or capric MCTs, the pigs receiving MCTs showed improvements in bacterial gut health, performance, growth and digestion of nutrients, including proteins and fiber.
4. Helps Improve Digestion and Nutrient Absorption
MCT Oil is beneficial for balancing bacteria in the gut microbiota, which in turn has positive effects on digestive symptoms, energy expenditure, and the ability to absorb vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. Medium-chain fats can help kill a wide range of pathogenic viruses and strains and bacteria that cause digestive issues, including candida, constipation, diarrhea, food poisoning, stomachaches and so on.
5. Has Antibacterial, Antiviral and Antifungal Properties
MCTs are powerful, natural antibiotics that help balance bacteria in the gut. In the age of antibiotic resistance, it’s meaningful to have natural methods to kill some harmful types of bacteria. Here are some known to be killed by medium-chain fats: streptococcus(which causes strep throat, pneumonia and sinus infections), straphylococcus (which causes food poisoning and urinary tract infections), neisseria (which causes meningitis, gonorrhea and pelvic inflammatory diseases), and some other strains that cause stomach viruses, candida, ulcers and sexually transmitted diseases.
In fact, there are at least a dozen pathogenic viruses that have been inactivated at least partially by lauric acid. Another great thing about MCTs is that they are capable of reducing “bad bacteria” without harming or removing “good bacteria.” That’s important, considering we need the good kind for intestinal health and digestive functioning.
6. Can Withstand High-Heat Cooking
MCT oils are particularly good for cooking with because they have a high “smoke point”, meaning they don’t oxidize from heat easily and can withstand high temperatures. This is crucial, because even certain “good fats” are not well suited for cooking (like extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil for example) and can become somewhat easily. Both coconut oil and MCT oil can be used for the most part in baked goods, sautes, stir-fries and grilled foods without oxidizing.