In a groundbreaking study published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, Medium Chain Triglycerides, the primary fat found in coconut oil, has been found to boost a person’s cognitive performance, particularly in older adults who suffer Alzheimer’s. They found that a single 40 ml dose was enough for there to be a remarkable difference.
This study was small but insightful. It studied 20 subjects with mild cognitive impairment. They were given emulsified MCTs or a placebo on separate days. The researchers observed significant increases in blood plasma levels and beta-hydroxylutyrate, a ketone. According to the study:
“Higher ketone values were associated with greater improvement in paragraph recall with MCT treatment relative to placebo across all subjects.”
The study was conducted with a double-blind placebo controlled design with two study visits. During each visit, subjects received one of two isocaloric conditions (690 calories) in a randomized order: emulsified MCTs, or emulsified long chain triglycerides as a placebo. NeoBee 895 (Stepan, Inc.) was used for MCTs. To increase palatability, heavy whipping cream was used as a source of long chain triglycerides and as a source of long chain mono- and di-glycerides for emulsification. MCTs (40ml) were blended with 152ml heavy whipping cream to create the emulsified test sample. Heavy whipping cream alone (232ml) was blended to create the placebo.
Subjects fasted from 8:00 p.m. on the night prior to the study visit. They arrived in the morning and blood was drawn to determine plasma β-OHB levels and APOE genotyping (first visit only). Subjects then consumed the test beverage and rested quietly for 90 min, after which blood was drawn and a 30-min cognitive testing session ensued. After testing, a final blood draw was taken.”
So what’s the deal with MCTs? Aren’t fats bad for us?
Not exactly, and MCTs aren’t like most of the fats we consume. They’re smaller and are not stored as adipose tissue, where most fats are. They are oxidized by the liver and in high enough quantities are able to increase the quantity of ketones in the body.
You can take a supplement if you can’t stand eating coconut oil, or you can incorporate it into foods that you would otherwise use other vegetable oils to cook.
Pretty neat stuff, isn’t it?