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Coconut Oil & MCTs -- Coconuts and coconut oil with coffee cup


[UPDATE (3/3/19): ConsumerLab has tested Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil. See the results -- and comparisons to other products -- in the Coconut and MCT Oils Review]

As discussed in the Coconut and MCT Oils Review, although coconut oil is made up of more than 90% saturated fatty acids, most of the fats are of the medium-chain variety (i.e., those with a chain of 6 to 12 carbons) which tend to be quickly used by the body and, it is speculated, may not be as damaging as other saturated fats.

Although clinical studies with coconut oil are limited, one study found that coconut oil (about 2 tablespoons a day of virgin coconut oil) did not increase lipid levels in the blood and even reduced abdominal obesity (Assuncao, Lipids 2009). Similarly, a diet rich in coconut oil has been associated with increased "good" HDL cholesterol, without an increase in "bad" LDL cholesterol (Feranil, Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2011). However, there is some evidence that coconut oil may raise total and LDL cholesterol in people who already have elevated levels (Cox, J Lipid Res 1995) and, for this reason, the American Heart Association advises against use of coconut oil.

Coconut oil has been touted for enhancing athletic performance, typically when added to coffee or taken with caffeine; however, a small study found this combination was not helpful to recreational runners (see details in the Sports Performance section of the Coconut and MCT Oils Review).

If you want just medium chain fatty acids, you can get them from supplements or medical foods specifically containing medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) -- typically those with a chain of 8 or 10 carbons. Some researchers theorize that the MCTs from coconut oil could potentially be useful for Alzheimer's disease, in part by providing an alternative energy source for the brain (which may not efficiently metabolize glucose in Alzheimer's disease) (Fernando, Br J Nutr 2015). Some in vitro evidence suggests that coconut oil may protect brain cells from changes caused by amyloid-beta proteins associated with the progression of Alzheimer's disease (Nafar, J Alzheimers Dis 2014). A clinical study found that a blend of MCTs derived from coconut and/or palm kernel oil (NeoBee 895 -- sold in the prescription medical food Axona (Accera, Inc.) improved cognition in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease compared to placebo (Henderson, Nutr Metab 2009).

Bulletproof coffee is a combination of coffee, butter, and a proprietary MCT oil sold as Brain Octane Oil, which is made from coconut and palm kernel oils and concentrated to specifically provide caprylic acid -- an 8-carbon medium chain fatty acid.

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September 6, 2020

Is it better to use MCT oil, rather than coconut oil in cooking and adding to smoothies etc?
September 26, 2020

In general, coconut oil would be preferred in cooking due to its higher smoke point, while MCT oil might be the better option for weight loss and other health uses. For more details, see the What to Consider When Buying and Using section of our Coconut Oil and Medium Chain Triglycerides Review:

May 26, 2020

As a Type 2 diabetic, MCT Oil keeps my blood sugar from dropping too low and helps with early morning "brain fog".
May 28, 2020

Thank you for sharing this. See the Coconut Oil and MCT Oil Review more more information about MCT oil and its effects on blood sugar and insulin levels

March 24, 2021

I am a recently diagnosed type 2 diabetic. As such, i was entitled to a glucose meter. A morning reading of 100 would go up to 110 after drinking black coffee. After drinking black coffee with a tablespoon of coconut oil, the reading was 300, which if a doctor saw that, would send you to the er for an insulin drip. It has been known for almost a century, that a high fat diet for 2 weeks WILL cause insulin resistance. Since then, i've kept my fat consumption of any kind below 75g and saturated fat below 20g. I dont think these keto plans are safe.

December 5, 2018

Evidence I've seen appears to be conclusive that coconut oil is harmful to your health: "MCTs make up only like 10% of the coconut oil. Most of coconut oil is the cholesterol-raising longer-chain saturated fats, lauric and myristic. It is therefore inaccurate to consider coconut oil to contain…predominantly [MCTs]."

Published, peer-reviewed review of research on coconut oil: "Twenty-one research papers were identified for inclusion in the review: 8 clinical trials and 13 observational studies...Coconut oil generally raised total and LDL cholesterol to a greater extent than cis unsaturated plant oils, but to a lesser extent than butter....Overall, the weight of the evidence...suggests that replacing coconut oil with cis unsaturated fats would alter blood lipid profiles in a manner consistent with a reduction in risk factors for cardiovascular disease."

Peer-reviewed published study of nutrition controversies: "Coconut oil and palm oil are high in saturated fatty acids and raise cholesterol."

November 14, 2015

It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to know (without self testing) what is fact vs. what isn't. Perhaps, I am the "odd person out" when it pertains to the benefits of most of these foods; or, perhaps I have an underlying medical condition which needs to be addressed?. Anyway, whenever I consume the below, my heart palpitates much more than it ought to: here are the consumables which are the culprit:
fish oil supplements
all forms of vinegar (apple cider, white, wine, others)
broccoli (esp., raw: other cruciferous vegetabes, less)
sodium (sea salt, Morton's, sprinkled on foods)
Coconut oil, butter, other oils with a large saturated
fat content
I have tried a myriad of different brands of fish oil, coconut oil, and vinegar, but each time whenever I consume them, my heart palpitates, uncomfortably.

November 11, 2015

I believe coconut oil also has the benefit of containing lauric acid

January 21, 2016

I'm not sure but there is a liquid coconut oil and it may not have lauric acid.

November 11, 2015

Prior to adding coconut oil to my diet, my HDL was 40 and LDL 130. After adding coconut oil, HDL 65 and LDL 95. It's also great for dry skin right after a shower.

Dr. Walter8049
November 11, 2015


1) what was the daily dose you took
2) for how long
3) what was the total cholesterol at the start and at the end of the treatment
4) what was the level of small particle LDL at the start and at the end of the treatment


July 22, 2017

Same happened to me. My LDL got lower and my HDL increased.

March 26, 2018

asking someone for the particle size is asking them to get a 3-400 dollar test!

December 9, 2018

Some have had this LDL small particle test due to their heart disease history

December 9, 2018

How did you add coconut oil to your diet?

November 11, 2015

Good article but you failed to mention the cosmetic values. I use it as a moisturizer and to combat facial eczema after two RX's failed to help..
November 11, 2015

Hi Karen - Thank you for sharing your experience using coconut oil.

November 21, 2015

I use it for washing my face/eye make up too.

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