Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which are highly present in Coconut Oil (66% MCTs), are extremely beneficial for many aspects of your health, everything in fact from Weight Loss to Alzheimer’s disease. See article and video on Coconut Oil here.
Whilst the benefits are undeniable, you may not like the taste of Coconut or you may just want to find some alternative foods that contain these same great MCTs.
What’s so special about MCTs?
MCTs are unique because they are more easily digested and do not follow the same route through your system as other fats. Instead they are absorbed directly from your intestines into your liver and they provide a source of rapidly available energy for your mind and body. Unlike other fats, excess amounts are not stored by your body as fat. See article: Amazing fats that make you thin.
Apart from Coconut Oil what other foods contain MCTs?
In the vegetable kingdom there is one other oil with a similar saturated fat profile to Coconut Oil and that is Palm Kernel Oil. This too is high in MCTs. However, it should not be confused with Palm Oil which comes from the fruit pulp. Although from the same plant, Palm Oil has a very different composition to Palm Kernel Oil and is high in polyunsaturated fats that are not good for your cholesterol levels.
Good quality Cold Pressed Palm Kernel Oil may not be easy to find and it is important to ensure that it is only this form of the oil that you are eating.
Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil are used in the manufacture of many processed foods and their hydrogenated forms are unhealthy. Palm Oil is a major component of what is classed as ‘Vegetable Oil’ on food labels here in Australia (together with Canola – see below). Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil is used in the manufacture of cosmetics and some chocolate.
Where else can I find MCTs?
There are a number of good sources in the animal kingdom. The first to mention is human breast milk, not because it contains a really high percentage, but because it is easily digestible and contains an MCT called Lauric Acid that helps build immunity, so vital to young life. Coconut Oil and Palm Kernel Oil each contain over 40% Lauric Acid, another reason for their great health benefits.
Cow, Sheep and Goat Milk all contain MCTs. Of these by far the highest MCT content is present in Sheep’s Milk (about 25%). It contains twice as much Lauric Acid as Goat’s Milk and nearly three times as much as Cow’s Milk. Sheep’s Milk also contains much more calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc than Cow’s Milk and is 5.5% protein compared to 3.7% in Cow’s Milk. In addition it is much better tolerated than Cow’s Milk if you have milk allergies, as too is Goat’s Milk.
Although Sheep’s Milk may not be readily available, Sheep’s Milk Yoghurt is. (Ask in the Mr Vitamins store). Once the probiotics present in the yoghurt have done their job, it is even more digestible than Sheep’s Milk and additionally you are benefiting from consuming a traditional cultured food. (Look out for more on the benefits of cultured foods coming soon)
Famous MCT Cheeses
Some of the world’s most famous cheeses are made from Sheep’s Milk: Rocquefort (France), Pecorino (Italy), Kefalograviera and Fetta (Greece) and Manchengo (Spain) to name just a few. Here again the cheese making process makes the food less likely to cause digestive problems, as the milk proteins that cause allergies have been removed. In addition you are benefiting from the MCTs in the milk. Traditional foods and the ways in which they have been consumed over the centuries have much to teach us about the best ways of healthy eating today.
What about other fats?
Fats are defined as either saturated or unsaturated.
Saturated fats can be divided into long-chain, medium chain and short-chain fatty acids (or triglycerides – their other name). Long-chain fatty acids from animal fats cannot be completely broken down by your body and can lead to health problems. Medium and Short Chain fatty acids, on the other hand, are well digested and absorbed.
Unsaturated fats can be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats, like Olive and Macadamia oils are good for you, but polyunsaturated fats and oils like Sunflower, Safflower, Soy and Corn are not. In addition there is Canola which was created by Canadian scientists in the 1970’s (it takes it’s name from Canadian Oil) from various strains of Rapeseed and about which there is much controversy as to whether, being genetically modified, it is healthy or not.
How about Ghee?
Ghee (clarified butter) mainly contains saturated Short Chain fatty acids, which makes it easily digestible. It also contains roughly the ideal ratio of monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fatty acids 27%:5%. This gives it the highest absorption rate of all oils and fats at 96%.
Once again a traditional food whose health benefits have been proven over time and which still has great relevance in keeping us all healthy today. As we look more closely at these and other foods from the world’s oldest cuisines, it seems we are discovering that they didn’t get it so wrong after all! Our modern diseases (diabetes, heart disease even cancer) have come from our modern nutrition (low fat – high sugar diets).