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MCTs Put Sublime in the Coconut
By Dean G. Morris, Master Herbalist

Did you know that 60% of the weight of a coconut is oil? This great energy source is used by the coconut to grow into one of the tallest trees in tropic and semi-tropic regions. This rich oil amazingly travels through the tree to reach and be stored in the coconut seed at the top. The reason it's able to climb the tree is due to the relative water solubility of the abundant medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil.

What makes coconut oil medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) so healthy?

Coconut oil is a composition of nutritional fats called triglycerides. These are made of various fatty acids that protect the seed or nut and provide a rich source of energy for it to grow. Each of these fatty acids has unique attributes of flavor, texture, solubility, and nutritional properties owing to the number of organic molecules in their chains. Short, medium, and long chain fatty acids are found in coconut oil, but most of the researched benefits for energy, brain health, and hair and skin are seen in the medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), where the fatty acids have from 6 to 12 carbon units in their chains. These include Lauric (C12), Capric (C10), Caprylic (C8), and Caproic (C6) fatty acids.

Nature's chemistry makes these coconut oil MCTs nearly water-soluble, which enables them to be conveyed easier in the tissues of the coconut tree and also in us. That's why MCTs are so often used to supplement the diet of malnourished persons and those with poor absorption issues such as gluten-intolerance and weak liver or gall bladder activity. Because MCTs are so easy to absorb, they don't need liver bile to make them bioavailable, which means they provide energy and protection without draining energy for their digestion and utilization.

The unique properties of MCTs are also why they remain in their liquid state when refrigerated. Extra virgin pressed coconut oil with the full range of short, medium, and long chain fats will start to harden at 75 degrees Fahrenheit and colder, but when you filter out the short and long chains, the remaining MCTs stay liquid even at 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

What makes coconut oil MCTs so delicious?
For many years beverage, soap, drug, cosmetic, and perfume makers have known and valued the aroma and other properties of the individual MCTs of coconut oil. They want the Capric and Caproic acids to give delicious fruity flavors to their products. The pharmaceutical industry wants Lauric and Caprylic acids for use in the lab and for their antimicrobial properties.

Many coconut growers will first separate and sell off half of the weight and also flavor of the MCTs, and then sell the remainder and still call it coconut oil or MCT oil. But a good nose can tell the difference. If your coconut oil doesn't have a rich, full aroma of coconut, it may not have the full spectrum of the MCTs. Look on the label for Lauric, Capric, and Caprylic acids and then trust your nose to be sure they're in there. You'll taste the difference the full spectrum provides when you bite into that fudge, macaroon, or brownie or slurp the Thai soup or curry. You'll feel the difference on your skin and hair and in your workout and sustained energy level. The coconut tree needs all the MCTs to be protected from harsh elements and for the nutrient energy to grow strong and tall. Why shouldn't you too?

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