It can be hard to know what’s healthy and what’s not. One week, coconut oil is the best thing since sliced bread. The next, it’s the worst thing you can possibly eat.
If you’re looking for new cooking oil that might be healthier than alternatives, we’ve got one word for you — MCT. No, not the evil computer program from Tron — that was the MCP. What is MCT oil, and why do you need it in your life?
What is MCT oil? It sounds like something that should go in your car.
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, a commercially-manufactured food-grade oil derived from coconut and palm oils. What makes this product any different from the coconut oil that’s suddenly enemy number one in the eyes of dieters?
Coconut oil is primarily lauric acid, which is not an MCT. This acid is absorbed and metabolized slowly, like other long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). Some coconut oils use a unique formula that’s 100% MCTs, but you won’t find them on supermarket shelves.
Without a special formula, coconut oil is only made up of 60% MCTs. On the flip side, MCT oil is 100% pure, making it easy for your body to absorb and put to use. This oil is a popular choice for those on the keto diet.
MCTs are a simple substance the body can digest easily. Instead of requiring bile for digestion — like LCTs — MCTs can be absorbed directly into the gut. From there, they’re sent to the liver and converted into ketones. This oil is an instant energy boost because, during ketosis, your body turns fat into energy instead of carbohydrates.
Multi-chain triglycerides help athletes improve performance by increasing stamina during exercise. One study found that replacing LCTs in the diet with MCTs reduced the body’s lactic acid buildup during activity.
Adding MCTs to your diet will increase intestinal permeability, meaning it’s easier for your gastrointestinal tract to absorb nutrients. While everyone can benefit from this, it might be particularly helpful for those with conditions like inflammatory bowel and Crohn’s disease.
Because MCTs are colorless and odorless, they make a fantastic additive to all sorts of beauty products, from lip balm to makeup remover. While you could technically use olive or sesame oil to remove your makeup, you’d end up smelling like take-out.
MCT oil sounds like the perfect addition to both your diet and your beauty routine. However, as with most things, if it seems too good to be true, it might be.
While there aren’t any definitive risks associated with using MCT oil, you should keep a few things in mind if you’re going to start using or consuming it.
First, this is not an oil you should use to fry your foods. Some people use coconut oil when cooking because it can reach a smoking point of 350° Fahrenheit. MCT oil, on the other hand, breaks down and loses nutritional value at 284°. Instead of tossing it in a hot pan, use MCT oil for salad dressing or keto coffee. You can also add it to your beauty regime.
You shouldn’t use MCT oils if you’ve got any diseases of the liver, because that’s the organ that metabolizes fat into ketones. It’s also not recommended for anyone with diabetes, as the keto diet can worsen symptoms. Since scientists haven’t studied the effects of these oils extensively, pregnant and nursing women should avoid them.
No matter why you’re adding MCT oils to your regime, be mindful of your intake. Like every other oil, healthy or not, it contains a lot of calories, making it easy to consume too many. Exact numbers will vary by brand. However, on average, one tablespoon of MCT oil contains 115 calories.
If you’re struggling with your diet, can’t seem to reach ketosis or want a healthier alternative to coconut, check out MCT oil. Yes, it’s derived from coconut and palm oils. However, it’s got all the good medium-chain triglycerides and none of the bad LCTs.
If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for? Add some MCT oil to your morning coffee and make that burst of energy last longer. Use it in place of traditional oil when baking vegan chocolate chip cookies or almond bread. Mix it with apple cider vinegar, honey mustard and garlic powder to make a delicious onion salad dressing. You can also use it to top popcorn.
Just remember — as with every change to your diet, practice moderation. Oil, no matter how many benefits it offers, has a lot of calories. You don’t want to hit your daily recommended value after one meal. Start with a teaspoon and increase your consumption over time.