If you stay up-to-date on the latest superfoods to hit the market (or even if you don't!), you've probably been hearing the buzz about MCT oil. But, even with all this buzz, you may be wondering—what is MCT oil? And how would I benefit from adding it to my diet? Well, if you're interested in learning about this awesome superfood, keep on reading…
Back in March, I was at ExpoWest and ran into Nutiva, who's sponsoring this post. I've been a fan of their organic coconut oil for a while now, but when I came across their booth at the Expo, they were promoting this brand new organic MCT oil that's not even on the market yet.
Now, I've been on the coconut oil train for some time (I put it in my coffee every morning and in my green smoothies), but Nutiva's MCT oil is super special because it's the first (and currently the only) USDA Certified Organic one out there. How awesome is that?!
I learned so much more about MCT oil by talking with the Nutiva crew and reading up on their new product. Now I'm ready to share with you why MCT oil is so great, what the health benefits are, and what to look for when purchasing it.
So let's get started!
WHAT IS MCT OIL?
MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides—a type of saturated fatty acids commonly found in coconuts. Now, if you read ‘fat' and a little alarm in your brain starts going off, hold on a second! Fats are one of the body's primary sources of energy, and are also important for healthy skin + hair, boosting brain function, digestion, and absorbing nutrients from food. #exhale
MCTs are different than LCTs (long chain triglycerides) in that they are processed in the liver and therefore can be used as an immediate source of energy. Coconut oil—a staple in my pantry—is claimed to be a good source of MCTs (about 62-65 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil are recognized as MCTs), but most of these are lauric acid. Even though lauric acid is said to be an MCT, it's not digested in the same way as caproic, caprylic, or capric acid and doesn't provide the same energy boost for the body.
Don't get me wrong—lauric acid has it's own benefits and is part of why coconut oil is amazing.
When it comes to MCT oil, to get the most bang for your buck in terms of energy for your brain and body, you want to purchase MCT oil with a small amount of lauric acid. That's where the crazy good stuff is at, and that's exactly what Nutiva does.
MCT OIL HEALTH BENEFITS
So now that you know what MCT oil is, you may be wondering—is it for me? To help you decide, here are some of the reasons I personally use it. You may benefit from using MCT oil if…
1) You want to support your metabolism, and maybe even drop a few pounds.
Because of the way MCTs are digested, they can be used directly as fuel for the body as opposed to being stored as body fat. Keep in mind though, MCT oil is not a “magic weight loss serum”—for long-term, sustainable weight loss, you definitely need to make sure you're eating a healthy diet + getting regular exercise, too.
2) You want more energy.
MCTs are unique in that they do not require energy to be absorbed or stored in the body, meaning they can directly be used as fuel for your brain + body. Since they don't undergo a complicated digestive process, they are a perfect source of fast and sustained natural energy (waaay better than sugary energy drinks!).
3) You're vegan, paleo, or follow a plant-based diet.
MCTs are also found in animal-based products such as grass-fed butter, cheese, and full-fat dairy products, but if you're paleo, vegan or just don't consume much dairy, MCT oil is a great way to reap all the benefits of MCTs from a completely plant-based source.
RESEARCH BEFORE YOU BUY
Just like every superfood on the market, not all MCT oils are created equal. Here are few things I look for before buying a bottle of MCT oil:
1) Make sure it's sustainably sourced.
Many MCT oils are derived from a mixture of palm and coconut oils, and are not always environmentally friendly (if your MCT oil is sourced from palm oil—do you research to make sure it's sustainably sourced and fair trade). That's actually one thing I really appreciate about Nutiva's MCT oil—it's only derived from organic coconuts, but they also support and invest in their coconut farming communities by giving a portion of their sales away to programs that support sustainable agriculture.
2) Research how it's extracted.
Some MCT oils will use harsh chemicals (like hexane) during the extraction process. I don't need my MCT oil with a side of chemical residue! So definitely research how your MCT oil is derived—you don't want any harsh chemicals, filler oils, or additives involved. Typically, the cheaper it is, the cheaper it was made.
There are a few things that really separate Nutiva MCT Oil from all the rest is the process they use to make a quality product. First, they take organic virgin coconut oil made out of fresh, young organic coconuts. They then slowly chill the oil and separate the solid fats using a centrifuge. All of this leads to a product that contains 93% true MCTs and just 7% is lauric acid, which is a higher concentration than most brands. Most other MCT oils usually start with highly refined coconut oils and use high heat to create their product.
Second, theirs is the only USDA Certified Organic MCT Oil on the market. To me, this is important and I love supporting brands that value organic practices as well. Yet it's not a deal breaker— I've been using non-organic MCT oil for years because that was all that was available. Yet now I can vote with my dollars and hope to see more companies that manufacture MCT oil follow in their footsteps.
3) Check out which MCTs it contains.
Look for MCT oil that contain caproic, caprylic, and/or capric acid. If it contains high amounts of lauric acid, skip it. Like I said earlier, lauric acid has it's own benefits, but better to get it directly from coconut oil. Instead, find one that contains high amounts of caproic, caprylic and capric acid to get the most bang for your buck.
HOW TO USE MCT OIL
There are so many ways, yet the key is to start with a SUPER small amount! This stuff is potent and can cause some serious diarrhea if you take too much. Yep, I just said that. When it comes to using it, here are my personal favs:
1) Put it in your coffee.
I put 1 teaspoon MCT oil in my coffee every morning. Combined with 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter, this Rawkstar Coffee (as I like to call it) keeps me full + energized until my mid-morning green smoothie.
2) Add it to your smoothies.
Have problems blending coconut oil in your green smoothies? I know, I'm not a fan of finding huge chunks of coconut oil in my smoothies either. Even though I love using coconut oil for other recipes, I actually prefer adding MCT oil to my smoothies. Since it's not solid at room temperature, it blends super easily and still gives my body a dose of healthy fat.
If you add in 1 tsp of MCT oil and 2 tbs chia seeds to any of our classic green smoothie recipes, you can instantly transform it into a meal replacement green smoothie, which will keep you full longer and encourage weight loss at a healthy and sustainable pace. It also won't alter the natural flavors of the green smoothie, since chia seeds and MCT oil are flavorless.
3) Add it to salad dressing
If you're making an olive oil-based salad dressing, swap out some of the olive oil for MCT oil. It's also goes great in salad dressings that have apple cider vinegar in them (talk about a double health boost!).
That's it! It you're interested in learning more about MCT oil, stay tuned for a future blog post where I share one of my fav smoothie recipes that uses it :). And if you already using this superfood oil, leave a comment and let me know how you use it!