For decades, the medical profession has known about the many healthful benefits of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Due to the ease with which the body can assimilate MCTs and their healing properties, MCTs are commonly given intravenously to nurture the sick and injured back to health in hospitals.[1]

Here’s the skinny on MCTs: fatty acids are the molecules that provide the building blocks of all fats and oils. We classify fatty acids using two different methods: saturation and the molecular size/length of the carbon chain found in the fatty acid.[2]

skinny on MCTs_2Classification by saturation reveals three types: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Classifying by molecular size also yields three categories: short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA).[3]

Three fatty acids combined create a triglyceride. Again, we can find short-chain triglycerides (SCTs), medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), and long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). Regardless of their source or other classification, 98-100% of the fats and oils we generally consume are LCTs.[4]

But it’s the MCTs that have very unique properties. MCTs are digested differently, easily, quickly, promote healing, and provide the body with potent energy. That’s one reason they’re used extensively in urgent care treatment. Typically, those MCTs prescribed in the hospital are manmade, but MCTs occur naturally as well.[5]

One reason breast-feeding is so healthful for a baby is that mother’s milk contains MCTs. Other naturally occurring sources of MCTs are: coconut oil, palm oil and butter.[6] Coconut oil is the MCT that seems to have everyone’s attention these days.

For years, coconut oil received a bad rap because it is considered a saturated fat. But what scientists and nutritionists now recognize is that not all saturated fats are created equal. Coconut oil is an MCT and that’s what makes it special.[7]

A study spanning nearly two decades investigated the effects of a high coconut oil diet on two South Pacific island populations. Calories from coconut oil comprised up to 60% of the islanders’ diet. Researchers found a very healthy population on both islands in which modern diseases such as obesity and heart disease were almost non-existent.[8]

The health benefits of MCTs and coconut oil in particular are so extensive that it almost seems too good to be true. Because MCT molecules are smaller than LCT molecules, they require fewer enzymes and less energy to metabolize. They are broken down by saliva and the liver quickly and absorbed speedily by the body. This is why people who suffer from digestive and metabolic issues benefit so from MCTs.[9]

benefits of MCT oilThe result from all this is that MCTs:

  • Help in the absorption of nutrients
  • Provide a natural antibiotic that boosts the immune system
  • Offer a healthy form of needed fat without promoting obesity
  • Boost energy
  • Increase HDLs (the good cholesterol)[10]

MCT oil is available to purchase these days as a supplement and/or cooking oil. However, if you look closely, MCT oil is processed from—you guessed it—coconut and palm kernel oils.[11]

Coconut oil in particular is receiving a lot of press these days because of its benefits in preventing and reversing Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Mary Newport shares her story and how she has been bringing her husband back from the grip of Alzheimer’s disease simply with daily doses of coconut oil.

Dr. Beverly Teter, a biochemist researcher at the University of Maryland, claims that coconut oil improves cholesterol levels and can help people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, epilepsy, dementia, and even schizophrenia and autism.[12]

How do we take advantage of coconut oil and its MCT-power? Easy! But first, know your source of coconut oil. Stay away from any that has been partially hydrogenated. Instead, look for pure, virgin, untreated coconut oil. There are many good sources available today.[13]

According to Dr. Newport, just over two tablespoons of coconut oil per day can provide the therapeutic value you may be looking for.[14]

If you are unfamiliar with coconut oil, you may be surprised to find that it solidifies at room temperature. But with a little heat, it melts to liquid form. For this reason, many people like to add a tablespoon of coconut oil to their favorite hot beverage. Coconut oil tastes slightly sweet, so it gives coffee or teas a pleasant flavor. Coconut oil may also be applied topically to the skin as a rejuvenating potion.[15]

When cooking with oil, why not replace other oils with coconut oil? You can replace oil or butter with coconut oil in all your favorite recipes. The Hawaiians fry shrimp in coconut oil for a delicious, crisp delicacy.

I love popcorn, so imagine my delight when I popped corn in a pan using coconut oil. The light oil with a hint of sweetness almost made the popcorn taste like caramel corn!

What are you having for dinner tonight? How about incorporating coconut oil into that recipe and begin to experience its health benefits and delicious flavor?

Want more motivation? Check out these articles on the additional benefits of coconut oil:


Rob Fischer

Rob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.
[1] Bruce Fife, N.D., Coconut Research Center, “Coconut Oil and Medium-Chain Triglycerides,” 2003,
[2] Bruce Fife, N.D., Coconut Research Center, “Coconut Oil and Medium-Chain Triglycerides,” 2003,
[3] Bruce Fife, N.D., Coconut Research Center, “Coconut Oil and Medium-Chain Triglycerides,” 2003,
[4] Bruce Fife, N.D., Coconut Research Center, “Coconut Oil and Medium-Chain Triglycerides,” 2003,
[5] Bruce Fife, N.D., Coconut Research Center, “Coconut Oil and Medium-Chain Triglycerides,” 2003,
[6] New York University, Langone Medical Center, “Medium-Chain Triglycerides,” 2014,
[7] Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times, “Cooking with Coconut Oil,” 2011,
[8] Health Impact News, “Coconut Oil and Heart Disease,” 2014,
[9] Bruce Fife, N.D., Coconut Research Center, “Coconut Oil and Medium-Chain Triglycerides,” 2003,
[10] Bruce Fife, N.D., Coconut Research Center, “Coconut Oil and Medium-Chain Triglycerides,” 2003,
[11] WebMD, “Find a Vitamin or Supplement—Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs),”
[12] CBN, “Coconut Oil Touted as Alzheimer’s Remedy,” 2013,
[13] Melissa Clark, New York Times, “Once a Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World,” 2011,
[14] Dr. Mercola, “Two Exciting Alzheimer’s Advances: A Novel Early Detection Test Using Peanut Butter, and a Study Evaluating Coconut Oil,” 2013,
[15] Whole Foods Market, “Cooking with Coconut Oil,” 2014,