Is MCT Oil the Same as Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil and other oil in glass jars with mortar and pestle

In recent years (and for good reason), both MCT oil and coconut oil have garnered quite a bit of attention. Both are incredibly versatile, flavorful, and packed with potential health benefits. But the question remains: is MCT oil the same as coconut oil? In this short guide, we break down the facts, including whether there’s a difference between MCT oil and coconut oil, and some of our favorite applications for each. 

Key Similarities

In order to understand the similarities between coconut oil and MCT oil, it’s important to understand how each is derived. Coconut oil is derived from a process of cold-pressing raw coconut, extracting the oil itself from the meat of the coconut. True to the name, coconut oil contains no other ingredients. MCT oil, on the other hand, is made via a process called fractionation, which separates the MCTs (short for medium-chain triglycerides) from oils including (but not exclusively) coconut oil. In other words, while MCT oil is not the same as coconut oil, MCTs are found in coconut oil, and MCT oil contains elements of coconut oil. 

Both MCT oil and coconut oil are high in saturated fats (though, as we’ve discussed before on the blog, this isn’t necessarily negative from a health standpoint). Both can have a similar flavor profile, with a naturally smooth, oily, nutty taste. And both have been associated with a number of significant health benefits, including fat burning, weight reduction, cognitive health, and more. 

Key Differences

As we dig into answering the question “is MCT oil the same as coconut oil?”, the main distinction is that coconut oil is just coconut oil. While the MCT oil at Wildly Organic is derived purely from coconut oil, other sellers might offer an MCT oil that contains elements from coconut oil and/or palm oil. Without getting too in the weeds scientifically, MCTs are essentially defined by the chain length of their carbon atoms (6-12), which is shorter than most dietary fats that are categorized as long-chain and contain 13-21 carbon atoms. Remember, The “MC” in MCT stands for “medium-chain.” Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are processed differently than long-chain triglycerides, and are metabolized more swiftly and efficiently, reducing the chances that they’ll be stored as fat in the body. This makes them a favorite among individuals seeking healthy fats to support weight loss. 

So, is MCT oil the same as coconut oil with regard to health benefits? There’s definitely some overlap, and it’s worth reiterating that coconut oil contains MCTs. Thus, a number of the health benefits of MCT oil and coconut oil – including improved brain health, reduced fat, and benefits related to the antibacterial properties of coconut – are shared between MCT oil and coconut oil. A key factor is the lauric acid content, a longer-chain triglyceride that makes you feel fuller longer. While coconut oil is made up of 50% lauric acid, it would stand that MCT oil made from pure coconut oil would have an even greater concentration of it. On the other hand, MCT oil made from palm oil, or a combination of coconut and palm oil, would have a lesser concentration of lauric acid and therefore a lesser effect on feeling fuller longer after consumption.

Raw coconuts with exposed interior

Uses for MCT Oil

MCT oil is utilized in a range of everyday contexts. Here are just a few: 

  • MCT oil isn’t the same as coconut oil, but both make a delicious addition to your morning cup of coffee. 
  • While cooking with MCT oil is not ideal, it can be tastily incorporated into a variety of dishes, from soups and sauces to smoothies and health-conscious cocktails.
  • Medically, MCTs can potentially be used to treat conditions like obesity and seizures, with research on additional treatment applications forthcoming. 

Uses for Coconut Oil

Both internally and externally, the applications for coconut oil are virtually endless. Here are some of our favorites: 

  • Natural beauty hacks in which coconut oil can be a star player include organic homemade lip balms, body butters, bath oils, and hair masques. 
  • A major difference between MCT oil and coconut oil is that coconut oil can be used for cooking. We love it with sautéd veggies, stir-fry, and more. 
  • If you’ve never tried it before, oil pulling can be an easy (and inexpensive) addition to your oral care routine. 
Woman in sunglasses drinking from a coconut through a straw by body of water

Enjoying the Best of MCT Oil and Coconut Oil

In summary, MCT oil isn’t the same as coconut oil, but both are well worth incorporating into your daily life. At Wildly Organic, we’re passionate about helping people discover the best that the natural world has to offer, and finding creative ways to support healthy living inside and out. Check out the latest articles and recipes with coconut oil in the spotlight, or get in touch for help finding the best products for you. We look forward to helping you stay informed and pursue the happy, healthy lifestyle you deserve. 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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