MCT oil vs EVOO - blog # 29
Hi everyone! Welcome back to another Friday blog. Today I wanted to look at MCT [Medium Chain Triglyceride] oil, used in the ketogenic diet, and compare its qualities to EVOO [Extra-Virgin Olive Oil]. “North America was the largest consumer of MCT in 2016 and is projected to generate over 752 million in revenue by 2025.”
So, let’s clarify what we’re talking about. Primary medium chain fatty acids:
- C6: caproic acid or hexanoic acid
- C8: caprylic acid or octanoic acid
- C10: capric acid or decanoic acid
- C12: lauric acid or dodecanoic acid
range from 6-12 in their carbon chain length. Long chain is considered 13-21 and is the majority of fat in our diet. Short is less than 6 and are produced by the friendly gut bacteria.
So, WHAT is MCT oil anyway?
MCT oil is a dietary supplement derived mostly from coconut oil and/or palm kernel oil (roughly 34%). It is lab-created and made up entirely of medium chain triglycerides. Fractionation extracts the caprylic and capric acid from the other fats. A chemical process called lipase esterification is used to produce triglycerides using the enzyme lipase. The oil then goes through acidification, bleaching and deodorizing. Hmm...do you think paying more for ‘organic’ is worth it in this case? Not sure about you, but I really have an aversion to eating something that has to be “de-odorized” first. Just sayin...
The claim is that MCT oil is more rapidly digested, due to the smaller size of medium chain vs long chain, providing quick energy, satiation and weight-loss. Many are jumping on the band wagon to put MCT oil in everything from smoothies to coffee and even beauty products because it is odorless and tasteless. They recommend to start at 1T due to nausea and diarrhea.
With regard to beauty product’s ability to penetrate the outer layer of the skin or stratum corneum (SC), only Oleic Acid (EVOO) was able to penetrate into the dermal layer. “Kravchenko et al.  states, that acids with shorter chains of less than C11 are not capable to disturb the packing of lipids in SC, as short chain acids are insufficiently lipophilic .” I’ll stick with my EVOO skin care products from The Virgin Olive Oiler thank you very much!!! Check out the Whipped Body Buttercream. It’s divine...
“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. MCT oil typically does not contain lauric acid (C12) either because its benefits are debated. Because lauric acid contains 12 carbons, it is on the cusp of being a long-chain triglyceride. Some argue that lauric acid may act the same as an LCT in the body and be more difficult to absorb and process. Caprylic and capric acid are valuable for MCT oil because they can be more rapidly absorbed and processed in the body than other fatty acids.”
Let’s review where these oils come from. Since palm kernel oil is made from the oil palm plant, I included info on the ‘oil palm plant’, since glyphosate is used extensively in production.
Palm Kernel Oil: This oil is derived from the seed or kernel of the oil palm plant. “Palm kernel oil, palm oil, and coconut oil are three of the few highly saturated vegetable fats; these oils give the name to the 16-carbon saturated fatty acid palmitic acid that they contain.” Research has shown that mice given a diet high in palmitic acid become resistant to metabolic hormones like leptin and insulin.
|Palm: Indonesia, Malaysia. Palm is the number one oil produced because it’s a very productive crop and cheaper to produce than other oils. There are huge environmental concerns with deforestation, habitat loss and large methane production. Non-GMO. A highly toxic weed killer (Gramoxone) is used extensively in palm oil plantations. It can be fatal if swallowed, breathed in or absorbed through the skin, with no known antidote. As this is becoming more banned, glyphosate (Roundup) is taking its place. Highly refined through chemical or physical methods followed by bleaching and deodorizing, losing vitamins E and A (red palm oil) and producing oxidative damage as well.|
Coconut Oil: Philippines, Indonesia. Extracted from mature coconuts through pressing or chemical extraction or both. Non-GMO. No pesticides used. Almost 90% SFA (saturated fat) less than 50% of the saturated fat is lauric acid (acts more like a long-chain fatty acid and is antimicrobial), the small amount of unsaturated is Omega 6 fatty acids, tends to increase both HDL and LDL cholesterol. Considered medium chain fatty acid. Digests quickly, produces ketones and provides a quick source of energy, satiating and good appetite control, possibly decreases risks of some health conditions, such as metabolic. Virgin coconut oil contains negligible amounts of vitamin E, vitamin K and minerals, coconut flavor. Current recommendations are to consume no more than 10% daily calories from saturated fat each day. (82% SFA, 1.7% PUFA, 6% MUFA). Smoke point virgin, unrefined 350, refined 450 deg F. Store in cool, dark place away from heat and light. Solid at room temperature. Virgin coconut oil is viable for several years, refined 1-2 years.
A journal review released January 2020 looked at coconut oil consumption and serum cholesterol levels. They concluded that consuming coconut oil raises serum LDL levels (bad cholesterol).
Olive Oil: Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Italy. Derived from olives (highest consumption is Greece, Spain, Italy). Non-GMO. Trees are very hearty, so generally no need for pesticides. However, herbicides are sometimes used to control weeds that soak up the water needed by the olive trees. EVOO is one of the most adulterated foods in the world. 73% of grocery store brands failed to meet the standards of the International Olive Council! It is often adulterated with soybean, sunflower or other oils. Look at the crush date!! KNOW YOUR OIL!!! EVOO is high in vitamin E (13% daily value), vitamin K (7%, 2.7mcg), loaded with polyphenols and antioxidants. (14% SFA, 15% PUFA, 73% MUFA). Smoke point EVOO 405-430 deg F. Higher smoke point with higher polyphenol levels. Store in cool, dark place away from heat and light. It is not recommended to refrigerate EVOO because condensation can occur after the oil has been chilled and may increase the rate of oxidation. With EVOO, fresh trumps everything, so you want to use your high polyphenol EVOO within about 6 months. High polyphenol EVOO does have a good ‘shelf life’ due to all the polyphenols keeping the oil from going rancid. But you want to get these in your body ASAP!!
A randomized, double-blind, crossover study from The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition compared a diet rich in (MC)medium chain fatty acids to a diet rich in Oleic acid (from Safflower oil). Design: “17 healthy young men replaced part of their habitual dietary fat intake with 70 g MCTs (66% 8:0 and 34% 10:0) or high-oleic sunflower oil (89.4% 18:1). Each intervention period lasted 21 d, and the 2 periods were separated by a washout period of 2 wk. Blood samples were taken before and after the intervention periods.” MCT intake had 32% higher VLDL (the REALLY BAD cholesterol) and 11% higher plasma total cholesterol, 22% higher triglycerides and higher plasma glucose! Holy moly. They concluded, “Compared with fat high in oleic acid, MCT fat unfavorably affected lipid profiles in healthy young men by increasing plasma LDL cholesterol and triacylglycerol.”
In a clinical trial involving 9 middle-aged men with mild high cholesterol, they looked at the serum effects of MCT, palmitic, or high oleic safflower oils. MCT and palmitic LDLs were significantly higher than oleic acid. MCT raised triglyceride level higher than either palmitic or oleic.
Another recent study compared the effects MCT oil and olive oil on weight loss and cardiovascular health. They concluded that MCT oil is safe to incorporate into a weight-loss program without adversely affecting metabolic risk factors. Their study was small and lasted 16 weeks. Another study looked at MCT vs LCT using soybean or safflower oils (unfortunately not EVOO). They used 12 surgical patients and 6 volunteers to receive parenteral nutrition. They found that the MCT group had improved nitrogen retention, better muscle utilization and less post-surgical weight loss. They also had significantly higher serum ketones and insulin levels. They concluded that using a 50% MCT solution is safe and may enhance protein metabolism. The studies on this are few and are relatively small, so the jury is still out on MCT oil’s benefits/detriments.
I personally feel that something created in a lab could not possibly be as healthy as something given to us by nature, literally thousands of years ago. It’s lacking all the micro-nutrients, vitamins and polyphenols. However, the health benefits of high-polyphenol EVOO have been well documented! EVOO also has a balance of fatty acids in a ratio that is very heavy in mono-unsaturated fats that do amazing things for us.
Think of your fatty acids as building blocks to create many different products your body needs such as triglycerides, cholesterol and other fatty acids. They are also used as chemical messengers to initiate “chemical reactions involved in growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism.” Around 600 different types have been identified in human plasma relative to human health. EVOO provides the best fatty acids naturally in the olives as well as occurring in the right ratio for our bodies to utilize. EVOO is also loaded with vitamins and polyphenols.
“Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), the main source of fat in a Mediterranean diet, displays a singular fatty acid composition with a higher content of phenolic compounds and other antioxidants than other edible oils. Its health benefits are mainly attributed to these minor components, above all to simple phenols and polyphenols.”
As for addressing weight-loss with EVOO, it is 2-fold:
- DRINKING a large dose (approx 4T) of EVOO signals the liver to open bile ducts.(Global Healing Center, Oct 2017) Whatever has been previously stuck can move out much easier. This sludge and bile is literally removed from your body via poop. And…everybody poops! LOL. Some people have reported liver and gallbladder stones released from their body. **(If you don’t have a gallbladder you need to go slow to see how your body reacts. If you suspect you have issues consult your MD)**
- Oleic acid signals the hypothalamus (in the brain) that the body doesn’t need any more nutrients to be dumped into the circulation, providing a signal of “nutrient abundance”, producing an anorectic effect. Don’t worry! This just means it is telling your body it has plenty of nutrients it needs to carry on. To understand what it is doing, you can think of it like an on and off switch. On, means your body is in a mode of using carbohydrates (sugars) for fuel. The Off switch means your body switches to burning stored fat for fuel while curbing appetite. OMG!!!! Yes please!!! (diabetes.diabetesjournals.org)
So, until next time my friends, drink, drizzle, digest high polyphenol EVOO, eat fatty fish, drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep, get a good pre/probiotic, exercise your body and mind. #EVOO