- What is coconut oil and MCT oil? Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) made from caprylic, capric, and, predominantly, lauric acids, make up more than half of virgin ("cold pressed") coconut oil, which also contains long chain triglycerides that cause it to be semi-solid at room temperature. The long chain triglycerides, as well as much of the lauric acid (which can act like a long chain triglyceride), can be removed to create refined coconut oil which is liquid and comprised mostly (about 85%) of caprylic and capric acids, or further refined to just MCT oil (about 95% or more of caprylic and/or capric acids). The oils can also be mixed with fibrous ingredients and sold as powdered oils. (See What It Is).
- How are coconut oil and MCT oil used? Both virgin coconut oil and refined coconut oil can be used in foods and cooking or applied to the skin and hair. Refined coconut oil and MCT products have been consumed as part of diets because they are used mainly for energy rather than fat storage, and preliminary research suggests possible uses in treating Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, fat-malabsorption, and other conditions, although benefits have yet to be proven. See What It Does.
- What did CL's tests find about coconut oil and MCT oil? All of the products passed ConsumerLab's tests, but some provided much better value than others. In fact, the cost to get 8 grams of MCTs ranged from just 7 cents to $1.68 — meaning you could pay more than 20 times as much to get the same amount of MCTs from one product than from another. (See What CL Found and use the Results table to compare amounts and costs of MCTs in products).
- Best coconut oil and MCT oil? ConsumerLab selected Top Picks for virgin coconut oils, refined coconut oils, and MCT oils based on quality and cost.
- What to look for in coconut oil? With virgin coconut oils, we found that it's not worth paying much, if anything, more for "extra" virgin. For higher concentrations of MCTs, make sure the product is a liquid (otherwise it's not really refined) and lists amounts of "Total MCTs" which should be at least 85% of the serving of oil, e.g., a 14-gram serving of oil should provide at least 12 grams (12,000 mg) of MCTs. If you want mostly MCTs made of caprylic and/or capric acids -- the shorter MCTs, make sure the amounts of these are listed and comprise 95% or more of the oil. (See ConsumerTips™).
- How much coconut oil should I take and when? Serving sizes have ranged from 1 teaspoon to several tablespoons daily, depending on the use. See the What It Does section for the dosage for specific uses.
- Side effects of coconut and MCT oil: MCTs are saturated fats, so most of the fat in coconut oil is saturated fat. Although some evidence suggests that MCTs are less likely to be stored as fat than oils made from longer chain fatty acids, they may cause an increase in "bad" cholesterol. For details, see Concerns and Cautions.