Coconut oil is one of the most commonly used cooking oils in India for centuries owing to a whole range of benefits associated with it. Recently it has gotten a lot of attention worldwide resulting in it has skyrocketing demand! Coconut oil is saturated fat (stay in solid form a t room temperature), containing Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). All coconut oil healthy benefits is because of the presence of MCTs or Medium Chain Triglycerides.
So, what is MCTS?
MCTs are a type of fatty acids that contain Medium chain bond and are made up of up to 6-12 carbon atoms. These are shorter in chain length unlike Long chain fatty acids like olive oil have an advantage in being:
- Easily metabolized by the muscles directly.
- Do not deposited as stored body fat.
- Provide fast and sustainable energy in comparison to the other fats.
MCTs contain the following main fatty acids:
- Caproic acid (C6) - 6 carbon atoms also known as Hexanoic acid.
- Caprylic acid (C8) - 8 carbon atoms also known as Octanoic acid
- Capric acid (C10) - 10 carbon atoms also known as Decanoic acid
- Lauric acid (C12) - 12 carbon atoms also known as dodecanoic acid
❝ Unlike long chain fatty acids, it does not require bile salts for transportation thus is directly transported from the digestive system to the blood where it gets utilized for fast and sustainable energy ❞
MCTs metabolism in body
Unlike other long chain fatty acids, these MCTs are very quickly broken down and absorbed into the body because of shorter fatty acid chain and straight go to the liver for metabolism. In the Liver they can be used as an instant energy source or help in forming ketone bodies (in case of High fat low carbs diet), which are produced when fat goes into beta oxidation process (fat breakdown) in the liver for body fuel.
These ketone bodies can cross the blood-brain barrier and reach to the brain which provides an alternative and most efficient energy source for the brain and rest of the body, which usually utilize glucose for fuel. Thus, there are less chances of storing as fat.
MCTS from coconut oil helps you to:
- Help maintain a healthy weight
- It has an important role in Ketogenic diets as it helps in producing ketone bodies and reducing stored body fat.
- Due to saturated fats, it also has high satiety value means gives you feeling of fullness for longer period of time, resulting prevent overeating.
- It also increases the basal metabolic rate.
- It is quick energy boosters.
- It has better digestion and utilization in the body therefore, person with compromised digestive system also can have MCTs.
- Unlike long chain fatty acids, it does not require bile salts for transportation thus is directly transported from the digestive system to the blood where it gets utilized for fast and sustainable energy.
- Enhance immune health - Since MCT oils have antiviral and antibacterial properties and fat is required for improving immune function, MCT oil being easily digestible to release quick energy, it is the best alternative for people with impaired digestion and immune system
- Improve gut health - It balance the gut good bacteria count and help to combat pathogenic bacteria.
- Balances hormonal levels- Research has also proven that MCT oil helps in supporting the hormones function and improves insulin sensitivity, as fats are required to synthesize body hormones, MCT oil being one of the healthiest fats has a definite add-on advantage.
Coconut oil is best used for cooking and baking as well. It has approx. 62% of MCTs, thus it can be an excellent replacement for cooking refined oil which is loaded with unhealthy PUFAs (Poly unsaturated fatty acids).
Nowadays, standalone concentrated MCTs are also available in the market and can give you the pure goodness of MCTs.
❝ It has an important role in Ketogenic diets as it helps in producing ketone bodies and reducing stored body fat.❞
MCTs have many potent health benefits. For above listed benefits, adding MCTs from coconut oil in the diet may be worth a try. However, remember to opt for cold-pressed coconut oil for maximum benefits.