Traditionally used in Asian cuisine, coconut oil has experienced a renaissance in the modern kitchen. Its stability to both heat and oxygen makes it versatile for many cooking and baking purposes. In fact, vegan recipes for baked-goods often rely on coconut oil for its functional characteristics. And the extra-virgin variety, in particular, is valued for imparting a delicate coconut flavor. In addition to its culinary attributes, coconut oil contributes to a healthy diet, primarily via its medium chain triglyceride (MCT) content. Coconut oil contains over 50% of its fat content as MCT. But what makes MCT a “good” fat?
- Organic Coconut Oil
- Only non-GMO coconuts used
- Source of MCT
- 100% unrefined and expeller pressed
- Solvent-free processing
Fat Metabolism: Length Matters
Although MCT are technically composed of “saturated” fatty acids, their shorter chain-length causes the body to handle them differently from the long chain triglycerides (LCT) typically found in food. Unlike LCT, MCT do not require the intestinal lymphatic system or bile salts for intestinal absorption, but instead enter the body via the portal system. Their short stature also makes them a readily available cellular energy source via ketone bodies. MCT are abundant in breast milk and have long been valued as a source of fuel (i. e. calories) that is efficiently absorbed and metabolized in adults.
Clinically, MCT are often given to those who cannot absorb conventional long chain fatty acids. Yet it should be kept in mind that MCT do not contain essential fatty acids, and therefore are normally only substituted for 50-70% of dietary fat. However, some evidence suggests that the absorption of long chain triglycerides may be improved if combined with MCT.
Coconut Fats And The Heart
We owe some understanding of the effects of MCT to the citizens of Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, a significant amount of dietary fat consists of MCT from coconut oil, and data indicate that the citizens of Sri Lanka score particularly high in the area of heart-health. This realization led nutritional and medical researchers to look at the effects of coconut oil MCT in more depth.
Surprisingly, feeding MCT to rats resulted in animals with lower body weights and excellent survival rates, effects that tend to be the exact opposite of those typically associated with saturated fat. This is important because it’s well known that a healthy body weight is directly correlated with heart and artery function, particularly as we age. Furthermore, in those receiving coconut MCT because they are undernourished or possess lipid absorption/metabolism defects, MCT have been shown to augment energy generation in the heart. And in fact, current research evidences the notion that suboptimal heart function may be associated with heart-energy deficiency.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.