Nutrition Myths
Food sources of MCTs
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Food sources of medium chain fatty acids

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 sourceCaproic Acid (C6)Caprylic Acid (C8)Capric Acid (C10)TOTAL
Oil, industrial, coconut, principal uses candy coatings, oil sprays, roasting nuts0.758.2125.59414.556
Oil, industrial, coconut, confection fat, typical basis for ice cream coatings0.7527.8895.59614.237
Oil, industrial, coconut (hydrogenated), used for whipped toppings and coffee whiteners0.6347.5745.53913.747
Oil, coconut0.4776.8025.3912.669
Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), creamed0.3934.843.8469.079
Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), not sweetened0.3674.523.5928.479
Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated) , used for whipped toppings, non-dairy0.3253.8953.3227.542
Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated), filling fat0.3183.763.2917.369
Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated), confection fat, uses similar to 95 degree hard butter0.3213.8733.1257.319
Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated), confection fat, intermediate grade product0.2583.263.1576.675
Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), toasted0.2673.2932.6166.176
Butter, salted2.0071.192.5295.726
Butter, without salt2.0071.192.5295.726
Butter oil, anhydrous1.911.1122.4955.517
Cheese, goat, hard type0.7820.9613.4325.175
Oil, industrial, palm and palm kernel, filling fat (non-hydrogenated)0.2362.6821.9994.917
Cheese, goat, semisoft type0.6560.8062.8794.341
Butter, whipped, with salt1.3730.8582.0394.27
Cheese, roquefort0.660.6742.1633.497
Cheese, feta0.5730.5461.9773.096
Cheese, goat, soft type0.4630.5692.0333.065
Butter, light, stick, with salt1.060.6191.383.059
Butter, light, stick, without salt1.060.6191.383.059
Candies, toffee, prepared-from-recipe0.7210.4240.9232.068
Cheese, gouda0.640.4270.9181.985
Cream, fluid, heavy whipping0.6090.3840.9051.898
Cheese, cream0.5920.3660.8681.826
Cheese, cheddar, sharp, sliced0.5650.3610.8571.783
Cheese, gruyere0.6210.3550.7511.727
Cheese, cheddar0.5360.3370.821.693
Cheese, tilsit0.5360.3810.7481.665
Cheese, pasteurized process, American, fortified with vitamin D0.5090.3320.8021.643
Cheese, pasteurized process, American, without added vitamin D0.5090.3320.8021.643
Cheese, swiss0.5420.3270.7681.637
Cheese, parmesan, low sodium0.5590.30.7491.608
Cheese, port de salut0.5560.3360.6811.573
Cheese, parmesan, shredded0.5150.2750.6861.476
Cheese, gjetost0.5660.330.5761.472
Cheese, fontina0.4890.3140.6511.454
Cheese, low-sodium, cheddar or colby0.5460.2880.6191.453
Cheese, romano0.5080.2710.6711.45
Margarine-like, butter-margarine blend, 80% fat, stick, without salt0.4990.290.651.439
Vegetable oil-butter spread, reduced calorie0.460.30.661.42
Cheese food, cold pack, American0.470.3580.5911.419
Cheese, swiss, low sodium0.4890.2890.6191.397
Cheese, parmesan, hard0.4870.260.6481.395
Cheese food, pasteurized process, American, vitamin D fortified0.4440.2760.6641.384
Cheese food, pasteurized process, American, without added vitamin D0.4440.2760.6641.384
Cheese, pasteurized process, cheddar or American, low sodium0.3590.3790.6391.377
Cheese, pasteurized process, pimento0.3550.3740.6411.37
Cheese, edam0.4610.30.5891.35
Cheese, pasteurized process, swiss0.4890.2750.5721.336
Cheese, parmesan, grated0.4220.2650.6321.319
Cheese, cheshire0.4880.2580.5541.3
Cheese, brie0.3230.2970.6731.293
Cheese food, pasteurized process, swiss0.4720.2650.5521.289
Cheese, mexican, queso anejo0.4740.2560.5571.287
Cheese, mozzarella, whole milk0.4460.2570.5821.285
Cheese, mexican, queso chihuahua0.470.2530.5521.275
Cheese, brick0.3730.2990.5851.257
Cheese, Mexican blend0.4170.2710.5681.256
Cheese, limburger0.4890.2750.4811.245
Cheese, white, queso blanco0.4210.250.5741.245
Cheese, caraway0.4660.2460.5291.241
Cream, fluid, light whipping0.3020.3090.6291.24
Cheese, dry white, queso seco0.3990.2530.5851.237
Cream, whipped, cream topping, pressurized0.4270.2480.5571.232
Cheese spread, pasteurized process, American0.4080.3110.5131.232
Cheese, mexican, queso asadero0.4470.2410.5251.213
Cheese, blue0.3610.2470.6011.209
Cheese, fresh, queso fresco0.3870.2440.5691.2
Cheese, mexican, queso cotija0.5920.0550.5441.191
Cheese product, pasteurized process, American, vitamin D fortified0.3660.2410.5741.181
USDA Commodity, cheese, cheddar, reduced fat0.420.240.521.18
Cheese, Mexican, blend, reduced fat0.420.240.521.18
Cheese, colby0.2590.3240.5971.18
Cheese, cheddar, reduced fat0.3610.2280.5631.152
Cheese, camembert0.2830.260.591.133
Cheese, parmesan, dry grated, reduced fat0.3950.2110.5261.132
Cheese, monterey0.2440.3060.5631.113
Cheese, provolone0.370.2560.4821.108
Milk, dry, whole, with added vitamin D0.240.2690.5961.105
Milk, dry, whole, without added vitamin D0.240.2690.5961.105
Cheese, muenster0.2430.2750.5861.104
Candies, truffles, prepared-from-recipe0.320.2750.4791.074
Cheese spread, cream cheese base0.2380.2790.551.067
Cheese, mozzarella, low moisture, part-skim, shredded0.3350.2090.5031.047
ON THE BORDER, cheese quesadilla0.3290.210.5041.043
Cheese, mozzarella, low moisture, part-skim0.3250.2030.4971.025
Croissants, butter0.3510.2050.4591.015
Values shown in grams per 100g of food.

Food sources of lauric acid

ProductLauric acid (C12)
Oil, industrial, palm kernel, confection fat, uses similar to high quality cocoa butter53.428
Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated), confection fat, intermediate grade product48.445
Vegetable oil, palm kernel47
Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated) , used for whipped toppings, non-dairy45.314
Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated), filling fat44.702
Oil, industrial, coconut, confection fat, typical basis for ice cream coatings44.482
Oil, industrial, coconut (hydrogenated), used for whipped toppings and coffee whiteners44.216
Oil, industrial, coconut, principal uses candy coatings, oil sprays, roasting nuts43.749
Oil, babassu43.5
Oil, industrial, palm kernel (hydrogenated), confection fat, uses similar to 95 degree hard butter42.515
Oil, coconut41.84
Shortening confectionery, coconut (hydrogenated) and or palm kernel (hydrogenated)35.8
Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), creamed30.646
Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), not sweetened28.625
Oil, industrial, palm and palm kernel, filling fat (non-hydrogenated)23.231
Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), toasted20.851
Candies, carob, unsweetened17.649
Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), sweetened, shredded15.743
Nuts, coconut cream, raw (liquid expressed from grated meat)15.385
Snacks, banana chips14.91
Nuts, coconut meat, raw14.858
Dessert topping, powdered14.507
Candies, confectioner's coating, yogurt14.505
Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), sweetened, flaked, canned14.058
Candies, confectioner's coating, butterscotch13.79
Nuts, coconut meat, dried (desiccated), sweetened, flaked, packaged13.78
Oil, ucuhuba butter12.2
Snacks, granola bar, with coconut, chocolate coated11.72
Snacks, corn-based, extruded, cones, plain11.68
Nuts, coconut milk, raw (liquid expressed from grated meat and water)10.576
Cookies, coconut macaroon10.009
Cookies, graham crackers, chocolate-coated9.741
Nuts, coconut milk, canned (liquid expressed from grated meat and water)9.463
Baking chocolate, unsweetened, liquid9.45
Nuts, coconut milk, frozen (liquid expressed from grated meat and water)9.228
Candies, REESE'S PIECES Candy9.099
Dessert topping, semi solid, frozen8.836
Nuts, coconut cream, canned, sweetened8.442
Cookies, animal, with frosting or icing8.232
Sour cream, imitation, cultured8.138
Dessert topping, pressurized8.014
Candies, MOUNDS Candy Bar7.92
Candies, confectioner's coating, peanut butter7.54
Cream substitute, flavored, powdered7.518
Cream substitute, powdered6.764
Cream substitute, liquid, with lauric acid oil and sodium caseinate6.614
Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, M & M's Peanut Butter Chocolate Candies6.611
Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, TWIX Caramel Cookie Bars6.587
Candies, NESTLE, BABY RUTH Bar6.372
Breakfast bars, oats, sugar, raisins, coconut (include granola bar)6.135
Values shown in grams per 100g of food.

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