Healthier Alternatives To Coconut Oil
Consuming moderate amounts of healthy oils is good for you because they contain essential fatty acids that your body cant make on its own. There are three types of fats in plant-based oils:
- Monounsaturated fats, which are the good kinds of fat that can reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
- Polyunsaturated fats, which also help lower LDL cholesterol levels. These fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are essential for your body to function.
- Saturated fats, which are the worst for your health. For this reason, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming less than 10% of your daily calories from saturated fats.
To choose the healthiest cooking oil, opt for those with high amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and low amounts of saturated fat. Some examples of plant-based alternatives for coconut oil include:
Canola oil: This oil contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which can help lower cholesterol and ease inflammation. Canola oil has 62% monounsaturated fat, 32% polyunsaturated fat, and 6% saturated fat.
Extra virgin olive oil: This fat has a high concentration of polyphenols. Polyphenols are naturally occurring antioxidants known to reduce and slow the progression of certain chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular or neurodegenerative diseases. Olive oil contains 77% monounsaturated fat, 9% polyunsaturated fat, and 14% saturated fat.
How To Find A High
With all of the hype surrounding MCT oil, it is no surprise that dozens and dozens of different MCT oil products have hit the market. How are you supposed to sift through all of these products to find a high-quality MCT oil? Here are a couple of characteristics that you should look for:
To ensure that your purchase has a minimal impact on the environment and climate change, look for sustainably sourced products. To make things extremely easy, this is the brand that we use and recommend ourselves.
Health Advantages Of Medium
The fact that MCFAs are less efficiently stored than other fatty acids and are highly prone to oxidative metabolism once ingested, implies that they have a short half life in the body and are unlikely to promote obesity via direct storage in adipocytes. Moreover, bolus ingestion of MCTs tends to trigger thermogenesis, presumably reflecting the fact that a glut of acetyl-coenzyme A production in mitochondria tends to trigger protective uncoupling mechanisms. Studies in rodents and humans indicate that, when diets are fed containing comparable amounts of MCTs or longer chain fats, the MCT diets are less obesogenic. Hence, it has been proposed that MCTs should be used as an oil source by people who are attempting to control their weights.
With respect to lipoprotein metabolism, diets rich in LA tend to raise low density lipoprotein levels, but they have a greater proportional effect on high density lipoprotein levels, such that the total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol level declines in fact, laurate is reported to have a greater depressive effect on this prognostically significant ratio than other fats. A meta-analysis of clinical feeding trials found that, whereas replacing 1% of dietary energy as carbohydrate with LA raises apoB non-significantly by 5.6mg/L, it raises apoA-1 by a significant 13.8mg/L. It is notable that, in South Seas cultures in which coconuts are the predominant dietary fat source, cardiovascular disease tends to be relatively rare.
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How To Properly Store Your Mct Oil Supplements
MCT oil and MCT powder can last up to 2 years in a dry, cool place. Avoid exposing it too much light, heat, or oxygen to ensure that it lasts as long as possible without oxidizing.
If you have a choice between buying it in a plastic container or a glass container, always buy the glass. It is highly likely that the chemicals from the plastic bottle will leach into your MCT oil .
For those of you who have an MCT oil supplement that is in a plastic container, I recommend either storing it in the fridge or transferring the oil into a glass container and putting it in a cool, dry place.
More Studies Still Need To Be Done
There are a lot more claims out there regarding the wonders of MCTs from improving autism behaviors and managing blood sugar levels to even reducing inflammation. But these claims still require a lot more research.
As you can see, many claims have been made about the health benefits MCTs provide. These claims have developed a health halo around this nutrient. For instance, MCTs offer potential improved weight loss, athletic performance, and increased energy levels. Other promises include preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimers. Most of the promised health benefits have been studied to a degree and some of the studies showed promise. However, researchers have been unable to provide concrete evidence for many of these claims.
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What Are Mcts A Closer Look At These Unique Fats
Now that we know all the potential benefits and side effects of MCTs, lets break down what they are to clear up any questions that came up while we were assessing the research.
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. You may also see them referred to as MCFAs . They have medium-chain in their name because they only have 6-12 carbon atoms.
This method of naming fatty acids may seem arbitrary at first, but the number of carbons in the fatty acid chain actually impacts how the body digests and assimilates the fat you consume. For example, MCTs digest rapidly and go directly to the liver while LCTs require bile, enzymes, and chylomicrons for the body to fully absorb them.
Below, you can see a comparison of SCFAs, MCTs and LCTs:
More Cardiovascular Risk Factors
High triglycerides, high LDL-P, and many cardiovascular risk factors correlate . These include:
- Obesity, specifically abdominal fat
- Chronic Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
- Low HDL
When assessing risk, LDL-P, triglycerides, and these factors above should be taken into account, much more than total cholesterol or LDL-C.
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Coconut Oil Bad For Ldl Cholesterol
But other long-chain saturated fatty acids, like the ones that make up most of the saturated fat in coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils , do in fact raise LDL cholesterol considerably. These saturated fats are called palmitic, myristic, and lauric acids. They also make up most of the saturated fatty acids in meat, poultry, and dairy fats like milk, butter, and cheese.
Other saturated fats that have little impact on LDL cholesterol levels include medium-chain varieties like caproic, caprylic, and capric acids. A small percentage of the saturated fat in coconut oil, about 10%, is made up of these less harmful saturated fatty acids, but virtually all the rest of coconut oils saturated fat is made up of the long-chain varieties that send LDL soaring.
And coconut oil is full of these artery-busting long-chain varieties by the sheer fact that theres such a huge percentage of saturated fat, 92%, packed into coconut oil to begin with.
Ounce for ounce, coconut oil has more saturated fat than butter, beef tallow, or lard.So coconut oil raises LDL cholesterol as much or more than animal fats, cautions Dr. Kenney.
Table : Change In Ldl Cholesterol
We also measured HDL, so-called good cholesterol. Butter and olive oil both raised HDL by about 5%, but coconut oil raised it by around 15%. So our results showed that coconut oil increased HDL cholesterol more than olive oil and butter.
Because HDL helps remove LDL, the more good cholesterol you have compared to bad, the better for your health.
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Mcts And The Immune System: Fats That Fight Off The Bad Stuff
MCTs have been found to act as a natural antiviral and antibiotic in many cases. In newborn children, for example, MCTs derived from mothers milk have antimicrobial effects in the gut tract and prevent pathogen transmission. This helps the child develop a functional immune system that is not vulnerable to pathogens and autoimmunity.
MCTs have also been shown to reduce the growth of certain species of Malassezia and internal fungi that grow in the digestive tract. Some harmful bacteria and viruses can be killed by MCTs as well.
A Doctor Explains Why Saturated Fat In Coconut Oil Isnt A Problem
Its no secret that Im a big fan of eating fat as a way to reach optimal well-being, and coconut oil is one of my favorites. And yet, if youve ever read a nutrition label on the back of a jar of organic, raw, cold-pressed coconut oil, youd see that its high in saturated fat. Isnt that a no-no doesnt saturated fat cause cholesterol to increase?
Glad you asked. Now we know that eating fat doesnt necessarily mean being fat: Its far more nuanced. As a doctor, Im fascinated by longevity and how dietary fat affects our bodies. One thing that makes coconut oil unique is that it contains medium-chain triglyceride oil or MCT oil, and MCTs are like super fuel for your cells. Your cells burn these MCTs for energy while storing very little of them as fat, boosting metabolism and supporting your immune system in the bargain.
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Should People With High Cholesterol Eat Fish And Seafood
For most people, it is beneficial to consume oily fish. The United States Department of Agricultures Dietary Guidelines for Americans 20202025 recommends that most adults eat at least 8 ounces of low-mercury fish and seafood each week.
On average, this gives someone 250 milligrams of DHA and EPA per day, though the exact amount will depend on the type of fish.
However, because some fish and seafood contains dietary cholesterol, people who struggle to control their cholesterol levels may need to be more cautious.
The United Kingdom charity, Heart UK, recommends that people with this concern speak with a dietitian about what is best for them.
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How To Incorporate Mcts Into Your Diet
In small doses, either formulation should be safe unless you have a heart or liver condition. If youre in the clear, that doesnt mean you should start chugging MCT oil or adding MCT powder to everything. DiMarino advises that you check with your healthcare provider before you start using either one.
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Lipoprotein Function And Health Implications
Lipoproteins are protein compounds that carry cholesterol throughout the body.
They are classified based on their size and density. Most commonly, low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein are discussed.
HDL is the good cholesterol. It actually scavenges LDL cholesterol, taking it to the liver for excretion .
LDL is the bad cholesterol, and often thought as unequivocally detrimental to health.
However, this is not the whole story.
In fact, the majority of people suffering from heart disease have normal total cholesterol levels, and only 50% of those whove suffered a cardiovascular event have high cholesterol.
Whats more, a 2016 review of 30 studies and over 68,000 adults, showed no link between high LDL and mortality of any kind or high LDL and heart disease .
Admittedly, there are limitations to a review like this, and its not necessarily the final word.
But, it does show that the cholesterol hypothesis of high cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease and death is likely, not true.
Theres definitely more to investigate.
Uses And Benefits Of Mct Oil
Aside from cutting out the unnecessary and bad stuff, what advantages for health does it offer if any?
It turns out there is a fair amount of research which suggests that not only is medium-chain triglyceride oil good for you, but it may be healthier than the culinary varieties.
Basic reasoning tells us that would make sense. After all, if youre amping up the good and tossing out the bad, then logically it should lead to greater benefits.
But what seems logical is hardly something you should bank on for healthcare decisions, so lets take a look at what the research has found.
There are currently over 80 clinical trials published on PubMed which mention this ingredient. Not all are directly related, but many are.
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Bottom Line: Is Mct Oil Good For You
The science is still evolving on whether MCT oil delivers on its popular claims of enhancing weight loss, increasing endurance, boosting brainpower, and reducing risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Studies so far have been small and limited to short periods of time. Long-term impacts of MCT oilwhich could include adverse effects on heart health, given that MCT oil is a form of saturated fatarent yet clear. If you do want to try an MCT oil dietary supplement, chat with your healthcare provider to figure out whether the product makes sense with your overall diet and personal health situation.
Sharon Liao is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, nutrition, and fitness. She lives in Redondo Beach, California.
Mcts As Medicine: The Potential To Save Lives
MCTs have proven useful in treating many medical conditions that are characterized by impaired or damaged fat metabolism. People who have obstructive jaundice, biliary cirrhosis, pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, Whipples disease, Crohns disease, regional enteritis, and fat malabsorption can all benefit significantly from supplementing with these easy-to-digest fats.
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How Does Mct Oil Affect Your Cholesterol
Plenty of research has assessed the effects of MCT oil, and the general consensus is this: MCT oil in your diet can help lower LDL cholesterol, and it can also increase your HDL cholesterol. However, that relationship might not be so clear cut. When the new systematic review meta-analyzed seven randomized controlled trials, they found weak evidence that MCT could lower LDL cholesterol when compared to a control oil additionally, they found MCT oil did not have a significant effect on the good cholesterol, either.
And according to the review, the results mainly had to do with the fatty acid profile of the control oil. For example: Compared to a control oil with unsaturated fatty acids, MCT oil was found to increase LDL cholesterol when compared to longer-chain saturated fatty acids, there is evidence that MCT oil could reduce LDL cholesterol. Translation? When it comes to your cholesterol levels, the evidence is a bit hairyit may depend on which oils youre comparing the MCTs with. And individual responses can vary due to unique genetic makeups.
Our results indicate that MCT oil does not significantly affect total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, or HDL cholesterol concentrations, the report reads. It may, however, cause a small increase in triglyceride concentrations, which is important to note.
Mct Oil And Brain Health
While I, and many others, experience a noticeable cognitive boost from supplementing with MCTs, what about the medical literature? Are there studies which back up this effect?
I couldnt find many .
There is this study which looked at the ability of MCT oil to increase ketones levels in the brain of Alzheimers patients as a way to make up for impaired glucose metabolism.
The study found that MCT use doubled consumption of ketones in the brains of Alzheimers patients. For more on Alzheimers and diet, see this blog post.
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Mct May Stimulate The Release Of Hunger Hormones
While MCTs may increase the release of hormones that help you feel fuller longer, they may also stimulate the release of hunger hormones in some people .
A study involving people with anorexia found that MCTs increased the release of two hormones that stimulate appetite: ghrelin and neuropeptide Y .
People who took more than 6 grams of MCTs per day produced more of these hormones than those who had less than 1 gram per day.
However, its unclear whether the increase in these hormones actually causes you to eat more.
Metabolic Fates Of Medium
The fatty acids featured in MCTs are characterised by a limited potential for storage as triglycerides. This reflects the fact that they cannot be employed for de novo synthesis of diacylglycerol or phosphatidic acid., However, they can act as substrates, to a limited extent, for diacylglycerol acyltransferase laurate is more active in this regard than the shorter chain fatty acids., This means that medium-chain fatty acids can participate in triglyceride synthesis when other longer chain fatty acids are present to generate diacylglycerol.
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What Is Mct Oil Made From
The coconut oil and palm kernel oil undergo a process called fractionation, where the contents in the oil are separated and collected in different containers. Highly concentrated medium-chain triglyceride is separated from the oil during fractionation.
MCT oil is frequently produced from coconut oil because it is naturally high in MCTs, containing up to 54 percent. Both oils do not offer the same benefits because MCT oil is a pure-source of MCTs with a greater proportion of fast-digesting caprylic acid. However, coconut oil contains other fatty acids as well, making the proportion of MCTs in coconut oil less than MCT oil.
What Is Mct Oil And Is It Good For You
MCTs help balance appetite-controlling and other hormones. They keep you feeling full and satisfied. They improve your cholesterol profile.
They also help you burn fat. One study found MCT oils help reduce body fat and triglycerides better than omega-6 vegetable oils. After eight weeks, the MCT-oil group lost more weight, body fat, and subcutaneous fat while experiencing a 15 percent drop in triglycerides and LDL .
As MCT-rich coconut oil becomes more popular, you might be concerned about its high amounts of saturated fat and potential to raise cholesterol. As a doctor, I constantly tell patients that high cholesterol can become a problem when labs yield abnormal results, so I understand your concern.
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