Table of Contents
- Now a day, we hear the word coconut oil in the diet domain more often than not.
- We get coconut oil after processing the white flesh of coconut. Whereas, we get MCT oil through the method of fractionation.
- The only source of vegetable-centered saturated fat is coconut oil.
- Both MCT and coconut oil provide us with health benefits, however, we have to select the best part of each oil depending on our needs and situations.
Coconut Oil: An Introduction
Coconut oil as an edible oil, was left in the back seat for a long period of time. However, now a day, we hear the word coconut oil in the diet domain more often than not. People from paleo, keto, etc. diet world have created a buzz around this word. On the other hand, people from professional athlete’s field dubbed it as a wonder food as this oil help them lift their energy.
We get coconut oil after processing the white flesh of coconut. Still in many parts of the world coconut oil being used to nourishing hair and treating dry skin.
However, the moot point is that it is just a hype or benefits that this food provides backed by proper research.
Before digging deep into the benefits of coconut oil, let us do some science.
Coconut Oil: Science’s Take on It
Coconut is a fat full of triglycerides. Triglycerides are created when glycerol and fatty acids bond together. Glycerol are carbon molecules and fatty acids are carbon & hydrogen atoms. So far, three variants of this fat are discovered.
First one is the saturated fat and people often termed it as evil fat. This fat is responsible for about 90% of calories that we get from coconut oil. Other two fats that we get from coconut oil are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and they are dubbed as good fat. These two fats provides 7% and 3% calories respectively from coconut oil.
Debate on Saturated Fat
Currently a big debate is going on across the globe about saturated fat. Labeling saturated fat as bad fat and linking it with many health diseases have come under substantial analysis.
After conducting a lot of research on sizeable number of subjects, experts found no noteworthy connection between saturated fats and diseases in our health, especially heart health.
Triglycerides that coconut oil consists of are medium chain in nature and responsible for approx. 70 -75 %. Typically, medium chain fatty acids (MCT) is a medium length chain of six to ten carbon atoms. Among many MCTs, the common MCT originated in coconut oil is lauric acid. This lauric acid is accountable for more than 50% of fats in coconut oil.
The only source of vegetable-centered saturated fat is coconut oil. Besides, its distinctive chemical conformation provide enough thoughts to researchers as to how it affects the human body.
Related Article: MCT oil: How to Use and Reap Benefits
Coconut Oil vs. MCT Oil: The Composition Difference
The word coconut tells the story. Coconut oil is extracted from coconut naturally. Whereas, we get MCT oil through the method of fractionation. That means MCT oil does not exist in nature. In fact, it is a byproduct of coconut oil.
We will get to know the difference between coconut oil and MCT oil more in details, once we learn the composition of these two oil, meaning what makes up these two oil.
First off, let’s drilled down the composition of coconut oil.
- Coconut oil: Approximately 50% of it is comprised of lauric acid
- MCT oil: MCT oil is made of 100% of MCTs.
Remember, lauric acid is not an MCT. This is where things get a bit tricky as people seem to think that MCTS are all that coconut oil is. and that MCT oil is literally just an extracted form of coconut oil. There are subtle nuances between coconut oil and MCT oil.
Crazy composition of lauric acid
Since coconut oil is predominantly lauric acid and lauric acid is technically a long-chain fatty acid that makes coconut oil a hybrid of two fats long-chain fatty acids. that take longer to digest along with some naturally occurring medium chain triglycerides that absorb faster.
Interesting thing is that lauric acid is technically a medium length long-chain fatty acids. Sounds crazy. Let us elaborate it further for better understanding. What that medium length long-chain fatty acid means is that it’s a long-chain fatty acids. in that it has all the attributes of a regular fat like olive oil, butter.
On the flip side, it has properties of MCTs as well. If we look at the break down of carbon chains everything will start to make sense.
Carbon Chain Comparison
MCT oils digests quickly because they have less amounts of carbon chains. For example, c-6 MCT oil stands for six carbon chains, c-8 coconut oil stands for eight carbon chains, c-10 coconut oil stands for 10 carbon chains.
The less carbon chains the easier is for the body to break it down quickly, because there’s less bonds. Lauric acid is considered a c12 which means it’s just passed the benchmark of medium chain triglyceride and jump into the league of long-chain fatty acids.
A comparison between these two oil shown below:
MCT OIL vs COCONUT OIL
Coconut vs MCT Oil: Which One has an Edge on Keto
What makes lauric acid different is that it takes a brief stop at the liver for digestion. Whereas MCT oils for example, when we digest them they bypass the liver they go straight into the lymphatic system and they go straight into being utilized for fuel.
“MCT oil’s popularity has risen along with that of the keto diet, because MCT oil digests easily and goes to your liver faster, making it an attractive option for those trying to get their energy mainly from fats,” says registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD.
This is great when we have the demand of really quick energy. But the fact is we don’t always need just quick energy. Whereas lauric acid has a quick pit stop at the liver for a little bit of metabolism before it goes into the lymph system and gives us energy.
So this is why coconut oil is actually quite nice as we get a combination in the best of both worlds. We get a plethora of different c6, c8 and c10 oils, at the same time also get a slightly slower digesting c12 oil.
The other benefit is that lauric acid reacts in the digestive system with specific enzymes to form what is called mono Lauren. Mono Lauren has extremely powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial properties which ends up adding to all the extra benefits that coconut oil provides, including reductions in inflammation.
When we compare between coconut oil and MCT, coconut oil gets a bit of an edge because we’re giving ourselves a wider range.
MCTs can cause some digestion issues. For example, MCT are known to give consumers stomach pain and cramps for it’s faster digestion process.
Analogy: Carb vs. Fat
If we draw the analogy of carbohydrate energy, we wouldn’t want to just rely on pure sugar for energy. We usually want to balance it out with other kinds of carbohydrates to balance our energy.
Well the same theory apply with fats. We don’t always just want a fat that’s going to absorb like that because all its going to do is give us a quick burst of energy and then leave us hanging. Therefore, it would be wise, if we get the full spectrum natural bio-available fats that are coming in its natural form. It just makes a lot more sense. Besides
Remember, the basic of keto diet. low carbs, moderate protein and high fat diet. Definitely, these fats-rich oils will help us reach ketosis faster.
Since, both MCT and coconut oil provide us with health benefits, we have to select the best part of each oil.
MCT is best for those who need a quick energy burst. Besides, people whose focus on losing weight and building lean mass, MCT oil is ideal for them.
Having said that, if anyone likes to avail the benefits of lauric acids, s/he should include coconut oil in his/her diet. Antimicrobial belongings that lauric acid provides is extremely beneficial for our health.
Bottom line is that both the oil is helpful for our health in their own characteristics. Therefore, we should consume them depending on our needs and situations.