MCTs help prevent cardiovascular disease by improving the metabolism of cholesterol
06/26/2019 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Not all fats are dangerous to your health. For example, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a type of saturated fat that possesses many health benefits, including cardiovascular disease prevention. A study published in the journal Nutrition Research found that MCTs can protect against cardiovascular disease by promoting macrophage reverse cholesterol transport (RCT) process.

The study, carried out by researchers from the Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing, looked at whether medium-chain triglycerides could improve atherosclerosis. In a previous study, the same research team observed that MCTs could reduce body fat mass and improve the metabolism of cholesterol.

In this study, they hypothesized that medium-chain triglycerides can improve atherosclerosis by promoting the RCT process. To test this, they randomly fed mice with a diet containing two percent MCTs or long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) for 16 weeks. They assessed the roles of MCTs in macrophage RCT and the progression of atherosclerosis.

The results revealed that mice that received medium-chain triglycerides experienced greater reductions in body fat mass and atherosclerotic plaques compared with those that received LCTs. In addition, the MCT mice group had more significant improvement in serum lipid profiles than the LCT group. Moreover, the research team found that medium-chain triglyceride could promote macrophage RCT and improve atherosclerosis.

With these results, the research team concluded that MCTs can potentially be used to protect against cardiovascular disease, particularly atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a disease that causes arteries to narrow and harden due to plaque buildup.


What are MCTs and what makes them different from other fats?

Fats are composed of chains of carbon atoms. Most of the fats in a person's diet are long-chain fatty acids, which are made up of 13 to 21 of these atoms. On the contrary, short-chain fatty acids are made up of six or fewer carbon atoms. MCTs lie between these two types of fats. They are of medium length and made up of six to 12 carbon atoms.

MCTs are found in dairy products and certain oils, especially in coconut oil. They are also processed by the body differently compared to LCTs. Unlike other fats, they go straight to the liver from the gut, and from the liver, they are utilized as a source of energy or converted to ketones. Ketones are substances produced when the liver breaks down a lot of fat; the brain can use them for energy instead of glucose or sugar. (Related: Coconut oil is a SUPERFOOD: Studies show it can offer unique benefits to your brain.)

MCTs are also less likely to be stored as fats because it is used by the body right away. This is the reason many people believe that a ketogenic diet that is high in medium-chain fatty acids is an effective way to shed off extra pounds.

Other health benefits of MCT oil

MCT oil is a dietary supplement that is composed of MCT fats. MCT oil offers health benefits, such as:

  • Aiding in weight loss: MCT oil is believed to aid in weight loss. A study published in the journal Obesity Research has shown that MCTs help increase the calories and fat burned in overweight men. MCTs also promote the production of hormones that reduce appetite and make a person feel full.
  • Boosting energy and improving endurance: MCT oil is said to help boost energy and improve the endurance of a person during exercise. In a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, researchers found that consumption of food rich in MCTs, instead of LCTs, increased the time that recreational athletes could endure high-intensity workouts.
  • Lowering blood sugar: There is also some evidence suggesting that MCTs may help improve blood sugar levels and help prevent diabetes. These fats can improve diabetes risk factors like insulin resistance, according to a study published in the journal Metabolism.

Learn more ways on how to prevent cardiovascular disease at

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