Let's take a look at the alleged superfood medium-chain triglyceride oil

Rebecca Firkser
April 02, 2018

Would you put oil in your morning coffee if it promised to give you more energy? MCT oil is a so-called superfood that claims to burn fat and kickstart the metabolism of people who incorporate the ingredient into their daily routine. The supercharged fatty acid can be used in recipes from bulletproof coffee to salad dressing. You’ve probably heard the oil mentioned by your coworker who’s doing the Keto diet, but seriously, what is MCT oil?

MCT Oil is a man-made extraction of medium-chain triglycerides from MCT-rich natural sources like palm kernel oil and coconut oil. When incorporated into a diet, the flavorless, odorless, clear liquid has been shown in studies to increase metabolic rate, suppress appetite, burn calories, and even enhance endurance while exercising, all of which can aid in weight-loss and nutrition. As obsession with wellness grows within culture, desire to take supplements like MCT oil to supercharge a diet and exercise plan gains traction.

Followers of the bulletproof coffee trend likely recall MCT oil’s popularity among admirers of the drink. Based on the practice of replacing breakfast with butter coffee (drip coffee blended with grass-fed butter), some recipes for bulletproof coffee—and the brand that goes by the same name—suggest mixing coffee with a dose of MCT oil along with butter.

While MCT oil devotees view the supplement as a magic elixir of sorts, it’s important to note that there is not a great deal of research on long-term benefits or risks of taking MCT oil at this time.

“People think it’s kind of this savior, but the science is not completely conclusive,” Brooklyn Dietitian Maya Feller told the New York Post. Feller also says that if you have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or have had a heart attack, you shouldn’t jump to add MCT oil to your routine until more research is available.

While MCT oil’s list of advantages may be attractive, it’s important to consider the inconclusive science behind the ingredient. Just last year, the American Heart Association updated their fat guidelines to remind people that coconut oil—an ingredient hailed by the wellness community as a miracle fat—is packed with saturated fat, and should be eaten sparingly. Of course, there’s no denying that fat is an important component to a balanced diet, but ultimately it's best to consult a doctor or health professional before incorporating a new supplement into your diet.

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