Medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) contain between 6 and 12 carbon atoms (6C and 12C).
Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are fat molecules composed mostly of MCFAs.
One MCT molecule consists of three fatty acids, the majority of which are MCTs that are connected to a glycerol backbone.
Small amounts of MCFAs exist in oils and fats not attached to glycerol (free fatty acids).
MCTs/MCFAs are all saturated and have the following names:
- Caproic acid (C6)
The best food source of Caproic acid is butter (2%).
- Caprylic acid (C8)
The best food sources of Caprylic acid are Coconut oil (6.8%) and Palm Kernel Oil (3.3%).
- Capric acid (C10)
The best food sources of Capric acid are Coconut oil (5.4%), Palm Kernel Oil (3.7%), Goat Cheese (3.4%) and Butter (2.5%).
- Lauric acid (C12)
The best food source of Lauric acid is Coconut Oil (52%).
These fatty acids are grouped into MCFAs/MCTs, because they share similar physiological and metabolic properties that distinguish them from other fatty acids of different lengths, such as short chain fatty acids (SCFAs <6C) and (LCFAs >12C)
Caproic, caprylic and capric acids belong to a group called Capra acids, from Latin meaning goat.
They adopted this name because goats milk fat contains large quantities of these acids.
Lauric acid, although a little longer and with slightly different properties than Capra acids, is short enough to be absorbed and metabolized in manner similar to Capra acids. Therefore, it also belongs to the MCFAs group.
Due to some differences, Lauric acid is used in nutrition and cosmetics, while Capra acids are used mainly in nutrition.
Lauric acid is much more abundant in foods than Capra acids. Coconut oil, for instance, contains a very high proportion of lauric acid (about 50% of all contents), while Capra acids exist in foods in much smaller quantities.
NOTE: that the best supplemental source of MCTs is a synthetic product called MCT Oil, which is an extract from coconut or kernel oil. The entire contents of MCT Oil consists of medium chain fatty acids, mostly carpic and caprylic. It has many uses in nutritional medicine.
The best food source of MCTs is coconut oil, with over 60% of MCFAs.
The most common food sources of MCTs are coconut milk, palm kernel oil and full cream milk products, such as butter or goat cheese.
Coconut oils are the best food source of lauric acid, which comprises about 50% of its total contents. However, carpic and caprylic acids are also high in comparison to other foods.
The following are the most abundant in medium chain triglycerides foods split into two tables. One contains three Capra acids, while the other lists foods with Lauric acid.
Food sources of medium chain triglycerides/fatty acids
|Food source||Caproic Acid (C6)||Caprylic Acid (C8)||Capric Acid (C10)||TOTAL|
|Oil, industrial, coconut, principal uses candy coatings, oil sprays, roasting nuts||0.75||8.212||5.594||14.556|
|Oil, industrial, coconut, confection fat, typical basis for ice cream coatings||0.752||7.889||5.596||14.237|
|Oil, industrial, coconut (hydrogenated), used for whipped toppings and coffee whiteners||0.634||7.574||5.539||13.747|
|Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), creamed||0.393||4.84||3.846||9.079|
|Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), not sweetened||0.367||4.52||3.592||8.479|
|Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated) , used for whipped toppings, non-dairy||0.325||3.895||3.322||7.542|
|Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated), filling fat||0.318||3.76||3.291||7.369|
|Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated), confection fat, uses similar to 95 degree hard butter||0.321||3.873||3.125||7.319|
|Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated), confection fat, intermediate grade product||0.258||3.26||3.157||6.675|
|Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), toasted||0.267||3.293||2.616||6.176|
|Butter, without salt||2.007||1.19||2.529||5.726|
|Butter oil, anhydrous||1.91||1.112||2.495||5.517|
|Cheese, goat, hard type||0.782||0.961||3.432||5.175|
|Oil, industrial, palm and palm kernel, filling fat (non-hydrogenated)||0.236||2.682||1.999||4.917|
|Cheese, goat, semisoft type||0.656||0.806||2.879||4.341|
|Butter, whipped, with salt||1.373||0.858||2.039||4.27|
|Cheese, goat, soft type||0.463||0.569||2.033||3.065|
|Butter, light, stick, with salt||1.06||0.619||1.38||3.059|
|Butter, light, stick, without salt||1.06||0.619||1.38||3.059|
|Candies, toffee, prepared-from-recipe||0.721||0.424||0.923||2.068|
|Cream, fluid, heavy whipping||0.609||0.384||0.905||1.898|
|Cheese, cheddar, sharp, sliced||0.565||0.361||0.857||1.783|
|Cheese, pasteurized process, American, fortified with vitamin D||0.509||0.332||0.802||1.643|
|Cheese, pasteurized process, American, without added vitamin D||0.509||0.332||0.802||1.643|
|Cheese, parmesan, low sodium||0.559||0.3||0.749||1.608|
|Cheese, port de salut||0.556||0.336||0.681||1.573|
|Cheese, parmesan, shredded||0.515||0.275||0.686||1.476|
|Cheese, low-sodium, cheddar or colby||0.546||0.288||0.619||1.453|
|Margarine-like, butter-margarine blend, 80% fat, stick, without salt||0.499||0.29||0.65||1.439|
|Vegetable oil-butter spread, reduced calorie||0.46||0.3||0.66||1.42|
|Cheese food, cold pack, American||0.47||0.358||0.591||1.419|
|Cheese, swiss, low sodium||0.489||0.289||0.619||1.397|
|Cheese, parmesan, hard||0.487||0.26||0.648||1.395|
|Cheese food, pasteurized process, American, vitamin D fortified||0.444||0.276||0.664||1.384|
|Cheese food, pasteurized process, American, without added vitamin D||0.444||0.276||0.664||1.384|
|Cheese, pasteurized process, cheddar or American, low sodium||0.359||0.379||0.639||1.377|
|Cheese, pasteurized process, pimento||0.355||0.374||0.641||1.37|
|Cheese, pasteurized process, swiss||0.489||0.275||0.572||1.336|
|Cheese, parmesan, grated||0.422||0.265||0.632||1.319|
|Cheese food, pasteurized process, swiss||0.472||0.265||0.552||1.289|
|Cheese, mexican, queso anejo||0.474||0.256||0.557||1.287|
|Cheese, mozzarella, whole milk||0.446||0.257||0.582||1.285|
|Cheese, mexican, queso chihuahua||0.47||0.253||0.552||1.275|
|Cheese, Mexican blend||0.417||0.271||0.568||1.256|
|Cheese, white, queso blanco||0.421||0.25||0.574||1.245|
|Cream, fluid, light whipping||0.302||0.309||0.629||1.24|
|Cheese, dry white, queso seco||0.399||0.253||0.585||1.237|
|Cream, whipped, cream topping, pressurized||0.427||0.248||0.557||1.232|
|Cheese spread, pasteurized process, American||0.408||0.311||0.513||1.232|
|Cheese, mexican, queso asadero||0.447||0.241||0.525||1.213|
|Cheese, fresh, queso fresco||0.387||0.244||0.569||1.2|
|Cheese, mexican, queso cotija||0.592||0.055||0.544||1.191|
|Cheese product, pasteurized process, American, vitamin D fortified||0.366||0.241||0.574||1.181|
|USDA Commodity, cheese, cheddar, reduced fat||0.42||0.24||0.52||1.18|
|Cheese, Mexican, blend, reduced fat||0.42||0.24||0.52||1.18|
|Cheese, cheddar, reduced fat||0.361||0.228||0.563||1.152|
|Cheese, parmesan, dry grated, reduced fat||0.395||0.211||0.526||1.132|
|Milk, dry, whole, with added vitamin D||0.24||0.269||0.596||1.105|
|Milk, dry, whole, without added vitamin D||0.24||0.269||0.596||1.105|
|Candies, truffles, prepared-from-recipe||0.32||0.275||0.479||1.074|
|Cheese spread, cream cheese base||0.238||0.279||0.55||1.067|
|Cheese, mozzarella, low moisture, part-skim, shredded||0.335||0.209||0.503||1.047|
|ON THE BORDER, cheese quesadilla||0.329||0.21||0.504||1.043|
|Cheese, mozzarella, low moisture, part-skim||0.325||0.203||0.497||1.025|
Food sources of lauric acid
|Product||Lauric acid (C12)|
|Oil, industrial, palm kernel, confection fat, uses similar to high quality cocoa butter||53.428|
|Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated), confection fat, intermediate grade product||48.445|
|Vegetable oil, palm kernel||47|
|Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated) , used for whipped toppings, non-dairy||45.314|
|Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated), filling fat||44.702|
|Oil, industrial, coconut, confection fat, typical basis for ice cream coatings||44.482|
|Oil, industrial, coconut (hydrogenated), used for whipped toppings and coffee whiteners||44.216|
|Oil, industrial, coconut, principal uses candy coatings, oil sprays, roasting nuts||43.749|
|Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated), confection fat, uses similar to 95 degree hard butter||42.515|
|Shortening confectionery, coconut (hydrogenated) and or palm kernel (hydrogenated)||35.8|
|Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), creamed||30.646|
|Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), not sweetened||28.625|
|Oil, industrial, palm and palm kernel, filling fat (non-hydrogenated)||23.231|
|Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), toasted||20.851|
|Candies, carob, unsweetened||17.649|
|Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), sweetened, shredded||15.743|
|Nuts, coconut cream, raw (liquid expressed from grated meat)||15.385|
|Snacks, banana chips||14.91|
|Nuts, coconut meat, raw||14.858|
|Dessert topping, powdered||14.507|
|Candies, confectioner's coating, yogurt||14.505|
|Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), sweetened, flaked, canned||14.058|
|Candies, confectioner's coating, butterscotch||13.79|
|Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), sweetened, flaked, packaged||13.78|
|Oil, ucuhuba butter||12.2|
|Snacks, granola bar, with coconut, chocolate coated||11.72|
|Snacks, corn-based, extruded, cones, plain||11.68|
|Nuts, coconut milk, raw (liquid expressed from grated meat and water)||10.576|
|Cookies, coconut macaroon||10.009|
|Cookies, graham crackers, chocolate-coated||9.741|
|Nuts, coconut milk, canned (liquid expressed from grated meat and water)||9.463|
|Baking chocolate, unsweetened, liquid||9.45|
|Nuts, coconut milk, frozen (liquid expressed from grated meat and water)||9.228|
|Candies, REESE'S PIECES Candy||9.099|
|Dessert topping, semi solid, frozen||8.836|
|Nuts, coconut cream, canned, sweetened||8.442|
|Cookies, animal, with frosting or icing||8.232|
|Sour cream, imitation, cultured||8.138|
|Dessert topping, pressurized||8.014|
|Candies, MOUNDS Candy Bar||7.92|
|Candies, confectioner's coating, peanut butter||7.54|
|Cream substitute, flavored, powdered||7.518|
|Cream substitute, powdered||6.764|
|Cream substitute, liquid, with lauric acid oil and sodium caseinate||6.614|
|Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, M & M's Peanut Butter Chocolate Candies||6.611|
|Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, TWIX Caramel Cookie Bars||6.587|
|Candies, NESTLE, BABY RUTH Bar||6.372|
|Breakfast bars, oats, sugar, raisins, coconut (include granola bar)||6.135|