What Is MCT Oil And What Does It Taste Like?

For the past few years, a trend has been brewing around the idea of bulletproof coffee. But, if you wondered what this superhero-sounding drink even is, you aren't alone. The beverage, according to Eating Well, does give us mere mortals a bit of a super human boost. It's coffee blended with a supplement known as MCT oil, among other things, which is meant to keep someone alert, full, and energized after drinking it. 

The MCT in MCT oil stands for Medium-Chain Triglycerides, according to The Spruce Eats. While it may sound complicated, Healthline explains that triglycerides is just another word for fat, and "medium-chain" refers to the length of the compound's fatty acid chain. Each of these lengths metabolizes differently — medium-chain triglycerides, for example, are said to metabolize faster than long-chain triglycerides, which can give them some health benefits. 

According to The Spruce Eats, unlike other lengths of triglyceride chains, MCTs are absorbed in the liver, which allows them to perform as a quick energy source. This facet has led MCT oil to a reputation as something of a wonder food in recent years, especially with the rise of the keto diet, since its foundation is fat used as an energy source, says Well + Good.

What exactly is MCT oil and how do you use it?

One of the richest sources of MCTs, explains The Spruce Eats, are coconuts. In fact, coconut oil has around 50% MCTs and is the most common base of MCT oil (which is a manmade good, as it's not found occurring naturally). Though, palm oil can also be used and MCTs can be found in some dairy products. To create MCT oil, coconut oil is refined to produce a more concentrated version full of 100% MCTs, says Medical News Today.

A common way to incorporate MCTs into a daily routine is through the concoction called "bulletproof coffee" or "butter coffee." According to Well + Good, you can make it by combining pre-brewed coffee, MCT oil, and another fat (either butter or ghee). Put it all in a blender on high speed, and the final product will be frothy, making it look as though you made your own latte

Sticking with the blended theme, smoothies are also a good place to easily add in some MCT oil, adds Well + Good. The Spruce Eats further notes that the oil mixes easily into salad dressings, and it can be a finishing oil for foods. But, they recommend not cooking with MCT oil, as it has a very low smoke point and won't be able to withstand the heat. 

What does MCT oil taste like?

Due to its mild flavor, says The Spruce Eats, the always clear MCT oil works well in almost anything, whether you're mixing it into something strong like coffee or just slurping it out of a spoon for a daily elixir. If anything, you may notice a hint of a coconut profile, but not much else. As far as oil viscosity goes, The Spruce Eats categorizes the neutral-flavored oil as thin, not thick or overly greasy. 

Still, even as flavor-light as MCT oil is, if adding an oil supplement to your routine doesn't sound like it's for you, there are other options to get a good daily dose. According to The Spruce Eats, there are pill and powder forms of MCT supplements available (that are flavorless, of course) and the powder can even act as a convenient non-dairy creamer for coffee on the go. Because of the energy it provides, MCT oil supplements are generally advised to be used in the morning. The site does warn, however, that while MCT in oil form can hold at room temperature up to two years, the shelf life of the powder version is about half that, usually with a year-long life span.

The potential health benefits of MCT oil

MCT oil is often touted for a range of possible health benefits. One big boost — and the reason it's often added to coffee — is its ability to provide added energy, so much so that it can even act as a great fuel for high-intensity workouts, says Healthline. Another potential benefit, according to Medical News Today, is that MCTs may assist in lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL (the good kind).

Medical News Today adds that MCT oil may also potentially lower the risk of liver diseases, and the energy it provides to the body has said to be a help with improving a person's brain function and memory. The Spruce Eats add that MCT oil may help aid in weight loss as well since it makes you feel fuller longer and can be used to help burn fat, which is why it's such a popular item for those following the keto diet and intermittent fasting.

The Spruce Eats does recommend caution to newcomers using MCT oil, though, as it can have some undesired side effects in addition to the health benefits. Mainly, the supplement can be harsh on the digestive system if consumed in too high of a quantity to start. So if you choose to try it, take it slow in the beginning to make sure it's right for you.

Where to find MCT oil

As far as where to find MCT oil, you can start your search at specialty stores — or just head to the internet where it can be found in abundance, says The Spruce Eats. Even places like CVS and Walmart now carry it due to its increasing popularity.

As it is a health supplement, it may be best to check with your favorite local pharmacy, health food store, or a specialty supplement shop. The Spruce Eats notes that when it comes to MCT oil, you get what you pay for — and often the higher quality, pure MCT supplements carry a higher price tag, but for good reason. 

Regardless of where you purchase MCTs, or what the reported health benefits may be, the most important aspect of any supplement is how it makes you feel. So blend MCTs up in your coffee, drizzle the oil on top of a salad to finish it off, mix it up in guacamole, or try it straight from a spoon to see if the energy-boosting oil makes a difference for you.