Coconut milk has been touted as a superfood with numerous health benefits, including weight loss and improved brain function.
One of the reasons for this is the presence of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are believed to be more easily digested and converted into energy than other types of fats.
However, not all coconut products contain the same amount of MCTs. In this article, we’ll explore how much MCT oil is actually in coconut milk and whether it’s enough to make a significant impact on your health.
So, if you’re curious about the MCT content in coconut milk, keep reading!
How Much MCT Oil Is In Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is made by squeezing the meat of ripe brown coconuts and saving the liquid that emerges. It is a popular ingredient in many cuisines, including Thai, Indian, Indonesian, and Polynesian.
While coconut milk does contain MCTs, the amount is relatively small compared to other sources of MCTs like MCT oil. Up to 65 percent of the fats in coconut are MCTs, but only a small portion of that is present in coconut milk.
According to research, coconut milk contains only small amounts of MCTs. Lauric acid, which makes up around 50% of the oil’s MCTs, is classified as both a long-chain fatty acid and a medium-chain fatty acid. This means that it behaves like a long-chain triglyceride (LCT) in terms of digestion.
MCTs are rapidly digested and transported directly to the liver for use as energy. The body can also convert MCTs into ketones, which are substances created by the liver when it breaks down a lot of fat. The body can use ketones as a source of energy for the brain in place of sugar or glucose.
However, the small amounts of MCTs found in coconut milk are unlikely to have any significant effects on body weight or metabolism. While a few controlled studies suggest that eating coconut oil reduced waist circumference, it had no effects on body weight.
What Are MCTs And Why Are They Important?
MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, are a type of saturated fat that are rapidly digested and absorbed by the body. Unlike long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), which require enzymes and bile acids for digestion and absorption, MCTs go straight to the liver where they are used for immediate energy or turned into ketones. This makes MCTs a popular choice for those on a ketogenic diet, as they can help induce ketosis and promote weight loss.
MCTs can be found naturally in some animal and plant foods, including coconut oil, palm kernel oil, dairy products, and breast milk. Coconut oil is one of the richest sources of MCTs, with up to 65% of its fats being MCTs. However, it’s important to note that most of the MCTs in coconut oil are made up of lauric and myristic acids, which behave more like LCTs in terms of digestion.
MCTs have been shown to have several potential health benefits, including improved cognitive function, increased energy expenditure, and reduced inflammation. They may also help with weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness and reducing calorie intake. However, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of MCTs on human health.
How Is MCT Oil Extracted From Coconut Milk?
MCT oil is most commonly produced from coconut or palm kernel oil, and is extracted by isolating pure MCTs from the whole food. Coconut oil is the primary source of MCT oil, but palm kernel oil is also commonly used, making up almost 34% of MCT oil production. However, consumers often mistake MCT oil for coconut oil, which contains all four types of MCTs as well as other fats.
The process of producing MCT oil from coconut milk involves a process called fractionation. This process extracts caprylic and capric acid from the other fats in the coconut or palm oil. Once these MCTs are isolated, a chemical process called lipase esterification is used to produce triglycerides using the enzyme lipase. Next, the lipase is filtered out, and the oil goes through deacidification, bleaching and deodorizing. After a quality analysis, the final product of MCT oil is ready for consumption.
Despite being produced in a lab, MCT oil contains entirely natural fats. Most MCT oil contains caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10) or a combination of both. Typically the proportion of MCTs in MCT oil is 50 to 80 percent caprylic acid and 20 to 50 percent capric acid. Caproic acid (C6) is often removed from MCT oil because it can have an unpleasant taste and smell.
Unlike coconut milk, which contains only small amounts of MCTs, MCT oil is a concentrated source of MCTs made from coconut or palm kernel oil. It contains 100% MCTs, compared with only 10% in coconut oil. Therefore, if you are looking for a significant source of MCTs in your diet, it’s best to opt for MCT oil rather than coconut milk.
Does The Amount Of MCTs In Coconut Milk Vary By Brand Or Type?
The amount of MCTs in coconut milk can vary depending on the brand and type of coconut milk. Generally, canned coconut milk has a higher fat content and therefore more MCTs than cartoned coconut milk beverages. Additionally, some brands may use a higher percentage of coconut flesh to water, resulting in a higher MCT content.
It’s important to note that even if a brand claims to have a high MCT content, the amount of MCTs in coconut milk is still relatively small compared to other sources like MCT oil. Therefore, if you’re looking to specifically increase your MCT intake, it’s best to use MCT oil instead of relying solely on coconut milk.
Can Consuming Coconut Milk Provide Enough MCTs To Have A Noticeable Impact On Health?
While coconut milk does contain some MCTs, the amount is not significant enough to have a noticeable impact on health. According to research, coconut milk contains only small amounts of MCTs, and the lauric acid present in coconut milk behaves more like a long-chain fatty acid than a medium-chain fatty acid.
MCTs are known for their ability to boost metabolism and aid in weight loss. However, the small amounts of MCTs found in coconut milk are unlikely to provide enough of a boost to have any significant effects on body weight or metabolism.
That being said, coconut milk does offer other health benefits. It is a good source of healthy fats and can help keep you feeling full and satisfied, which can prevent overeating and snacking. Additionally, coconut milk is hydrating and helps the digestive organs function properly, which can support weight loss and detoxification.
Other Health Benefits Of Coconut Milk Beyond MCTs.
While MCTs are often touted as the main health benefit of coconut milk, this ingredient also offers a range of other health benefits. For instance, coconut milk is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, and selenium. These nutrients are essential for maintaining good health and preventing chronic diseases.
Additionally, consuming coconut milk has been linked to improved heart health. Studies have found that regular consumption of coconut milk can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL cholesterol levels. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
Coconut milk also contains antioxidant compounds that can help protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation. These compounds may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and arthritis.
Furthermore, coconut milk has antimicrobial properties thanks to its lauric acid content. This means that it can help fight off harmful bacteria and viruses in the body.
Lastly, coconut milk is a great option for those who are lactose intolerant or have a dairy allergy. It is a dairy-free alternative to traditional milk and can be used in a variety of recipes.