Frequent Questions

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What are Microlipids™?

Microlipids™ are edible fats and cooking oils blended through Microsaturation™ process. Half of the content of a Microlipids™ product is medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. Medium-chain triglycerides are shorter fat molecules that are converted into immediate energy by the liver and cannot be stored as body fat.

Research shows that MCTs also improve calcium absorption, oxygen consumption and vitamin transport, reduce serum cholesterol levels, and have antimicrobial benefits. A Microlipids™ product is a super healthy fat or cooking oil, delivering high energy without an increased risk of body fat deposition. Microlipids™ that include a vegetable oil base such as olive or canola oil also deliver essential fatty acids.

What is the biggest consumer benefit of Microsaturated™ fats and oils?

Healthy weight management. About half of a Microsaturated™ fat or oil digests differently than other fats and oils, such that the calories are oxidized (burned up) by the liver and not stored as body fat.

Why do MCT oil molecules digest differently than other fats and oils?

MCTs have exceptional hydrophilic properties compared to other fats and oils, which is a technical way of saying they mix well with water. This hydrophilic property of MCTs—which is due to their short carbon chain lengths—is the reason why medium-chain triglycerides digest differently.

Where does MCT oil come from?

MCT oil is a vegetable oil distilled from coconut oil or palm kernel oil with steam. The steam’s heat separates the medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) from the whole coconut oil or palm kernel oil. After distillation, the free MCFAs are esterified (attached) to a glycerol backbone, re-forming them into the characteristic triglyceride (fat) molecules of vegetable oil. The raw MCT oil is then purified and deodorized with traditional vegetable oil refining procedures.

Coconut oil’s MCFA content is about 15 percent; palm kernel oil’s MCFA content is about 9 percent. MCT oil is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) in the USA and has been used in infant formula and as a nutritional supplement in hospitals since the 1950s.

Incidentally, the MCFA esterification process described above is NOT the same as interesterification, the process used to rearrange fatty acids with different properties into novel triglyceride molecules—and “designer” vegetable oils. The fatty acids in MCT oil are all medium-chain length (predominantly C8 and C10, with trace amounts of C6 and C12) with similar chemical properties and thus, no particular arrangement of medium-chain fatty acids on a glycerol backbone produces novel properties or effects. This is an important distinction because recent scientific research suggests that interesterified triglyceride molecules may produce undesirable effects in cell structure and metabolism, when certain fatty acids are randomly positioned in the middle (sn2) position of the three fatty acid tails on a glycerol backbone.

Is MCT oil a vegetable oil or a special ingredient?

MCT oil is a modified vegetable oil, sometimes referred to as fractionated coconut oil. The government of Canada suggests that MCT oil made from coconut oil can be labeled as “modified coconut oil” (see “Medium Chain Triglycerides” at www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/labeti/decisions/fatgrae.shtml).

Where did the idea for Microlipids™ come from?

Inventor Gus Papthanasopoulos was working on development of blended edible fats and cooking oils that could deliver high energy per gram of food—or “dense calories“—for extreme activities and environments such as spaceflight, mountain climbing, deep sea diving, military combat missions and endurance sports, without promoting coronary heart disease. He knew about the benefits of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), but MCTs by themselves lack the Omega essential fatty acids. Eventually, he realized that MCTs could become a platform to make any edible fat or oil—anything from lard to olive oil—super healthy.

What is Microsaturation™?

Microsaturation™, or micro-molecular hyper-saturation, is a patented process for physically blending any vegetable oil or animal fat with medium-chain triglycerides, a special group of super-healthy fats that occur naturally in breast milk, coconut oil and palm kernel oil. “Physically blending” means combining without chemical reactions. Microsaturation™ is less expensive than interesterification and the resulting fats and oils are super healthy, with long shelf life and zero grams of unhealthy trans fat.

Can Microlipids™ cooking oils be used for deep frying?

Yes. While Microlipids™ are not suitable for repeat deep frying, they can be used for healthier deep frying so long as the temperature is maintained within a range of 320–350°F / 160–177°C. Medium-chain triglycerides do have lower smoke points than other cooking oils. Still, coconut oil—which is about 15 percent medium-chain triglycerides—enjoyed a significant share of the United States cooking oil market until World War II, when shortages caused a shift to vegetable oil substitutes. The smoke point of a Microlipids™ oil is a bit less than the weighted average of its MCT content smoke point (around 320°F/160°C) and the smoke point of the base animal fat or vegetable oil that makes up the other half of the Microsaturated™ blend (over 400°F/204°C for some cooking oils).

We would expect the smoke point of a Microlipids™ cooking oil with a soybean (450°F/232°C smoke point) cooking oil base to be perhaps 10 percent less than 385°F/196°C average of the smoke points for soybean and MCT oils. Also, it’s important to remember that the published smoke points for all cooking oils are reduced as soon as food is placed into the oil.* Incidentally, it is a common misconception that deep frying requires very high temperatures—of 400°F/204°C or more. The reality is that frying at temperatures in the 340–360°F / 171–182°C range produces better results. McDonald’s french fry fryers, for example, typically operate at 340°F/171°C.

* Expeller pressed and filtered oils have lower smoke points than refined versions of the same oils because solid particles in the unrefined oil lower the smoke point. Raising the smoke point is one of the reasons why vegetable oils are refined.

Do Microlipids™ cause diarrhea or stomach upset?

No. Unlike artificial “fat replacers” like alli® (Xenical/Orlistat) and Olean® (Olestra), our active weight management ingredient—medium-chain triglyceride—is real fat that is absorbed by the body. Fat replacers typically work by avoiding digestion—which helps to explain the unpleasant side effects.

Further, Microlipids™ will not cause stomach upset when consumed as part of a normal diet. This fear is sometimes based upon the experience of people who have consumed unusually large amounts (30–80% of total daily calories) of medium-chain triglycerides in the form of pure MCT oil. It is not unusual for a person consuming large amounts of pure MCT oil to experience stomach upset; however, this does not translate to Microlipids™ consumed as part of a normal diet.**

If you consume similarly large amounts of pure olive oil, soybean oil, corn oil, or any other cooking oil, chances are good that you will experience stomach upset and probably diarrhea from these oils. In fact, if you research medical references, you will find that olive oil is recommended as a natural laxative for constipation sufferers. Consuming pure olive oil in large amounts might cause diarrhea, but this doesn’t mean olive oil as a salad dressing or in a serving of fettuccine is going to bother you.

** Bodybuilders and athletes sometimes consume pure MCT oil because the body burns medium-chain triglycerides easily, like carbohydrates, and any leftover calories won’t end up as body fat.

OK, I understand that MCT oil is real fat and that it doesn’t behave like the artificial fat replacer products. But how safe is MCT oil from a toxicology standpoint?

MCT oil has been used as a nutritional supplement in hospitals since the 1950s. The safety of MCT oil for human dietary consumption has also been confirmed by several clinical toxicology trials, at daily consumption up to one gram per kilogram of bodyweight. One tablespoon of cooking oil weighs 13.62 grams, so this means that a person weighing only 120 pounds (54 kg) can safely consume up to four tablespoons of MCT oil per day. And remember that MCT oil is no more than half of a Microlipids™, so our example person could safely consume up to eight tablespoons of Microlipids™ blended oils per day.

How much cooking oil is eight tablespoons? Well, it’s half a cup. But to better understand just how much cooking oil this is, eight tablespoons has 8 x 13.62 grams x 9 calories per gram of fat = 980 calories. This is about half the total daily energy requirement for a person weighing 120 pounds (54 kg).

In real world consumption, we expect a “heavy” user of Microlipids™ blended cooking oils to average perhaps two-and-a-half tablespoons per day—which is to say, no more than one-and-a-quarter tablespoons of MCT oil. And keep in mind that this seemingly insignificant one-and-a-quarter tablespoons of MCT oil consumed per day translates into about 16 pounds (7.3 kg) of potential body fat avoided over the course of a year.

For the most authoritative review of MCT safety and toxicology, see Traul, et al., “Review of the Toxicologic Properties of Medium-Chain Triglycerides,” Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2000 Jan;38(1):79–98. An abstract is available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10685018.

I’ve heard that saturated fat is bad for you. Isn’t coconut oil mostly saturated fat?

Yes, whole coconut oil is almost entirely saturated fat. However, medium-chain triglycerides do not digest like other fats but instead are oxidized (burned up) by the liver. Consequently, MCTs cannot promote heart disease because they do not end up circulating throughout the body.

That said, it’s also important to understand that scientific opinion on saturated fat has changed. Saturated fat is not necessarily bad for you when consumed as part of a balanced diet. A seriously flawed research study conducted over 50 years ago, and a publicity campaign conducted by the American Soybean Association during the 1980s—designed to increase consumption of soybean-based vegetable oils by demonizing the high saturated fat content in tropical oils such as coconut oil and palm oil—decimated tropical oil imports into the U.S. This had a devastating effect upon the economy of the Philippines—the primary source of U.S. imported coconut oil.***

Here is a direct quote from a 2007 Harvard School of Public Health news bulletin:

Coconut and palm oils. These solid vegetable oils were more widely used in prepared food until 1988, when worries—largely unfounded—that they were more detrimental than other high saturated fat oils caused food companies to replace them with hydrogenated oils made from soy, corn, sunflower, and rapeseed.” (Emphasis added.)

*** Academic researchers at the University of Georgia analyzed monthly edible oil consumption data for the period from January 1980 through December 1990, the period during and immediately following the ASA promotional campaign, which raised the issue of saturated fat in tropical oils as a factor in cardiovascular disease. The researchers found evidence that negative messages about tropical oils induced structural changes in U.S. domestic consumption of edible palm and coconut oils. They concluded that a decline in tropical oil imports and consumption resulted from processors switching to soybean and other vegetable oils in response to a change in consumer attitudes during and after the ASA campaign. The study showed that prices of tropical oils were not significant in determining short-run soybean and cottonseed oil demand. See Othman, Jamal B., Houston, Jack E. and Mclntosh, Christopher S., “Health issue commodity promotion: Impacts on U.S. edible vegetable oil demand,” Food Policy, vol. 18(3), pages 214–223, June 1993.

Isn’t there already a cooking oil on the market that contains medium-chain fatty acids?

Yes. Healthy Resetta brand cooking oil, manufactured in Japan by Nisshin OilliO Group, and sold in Japan, China and South Korea, contains a very small percentage (about 12 percent) of medium-chain fatty acids.

Unlike Microsaturation™, which does not require chemical reactions, Healthy Resetta is manufactured with a chemical reaction called lipase esterification. Concerns have emerged recently about the long-term health effects of interesterified cooking oils, which create artificial fat molecules through chemical or enzymatic reactions.

In a clinical study, test subjects who included Healthy Resetta in their diets lost more weight than test subjects whose diets included conventional cooking oils, but the results have been criticized as insignificant by some, including Kuniko Takahashi, a frequent critic of food fads and a professor of home economics at Japan’s Gunma University.

Microsaturated™ cooking oil has up to four times the medium-chain fatty acid content of Healthy Resetta cooking oil, so the health benefits are much more dramatic. Peer-reviewed studies that have varied the percentage of MCT to long-chain fats (LCT) show that the 50/50 ratio claimed in our patents is the ideal ratio of MCT/LCT to maximize the thermogenic effect of medium-chain fatty acids.

Why would you want to Microsaturate™ an already healthy oil like fresh olive oil?

We’ll give you six good reasons. First, you turn a healthy oil into a super healthy oil because half of the Microsaturated™ oil’s calories will now be immediately burned as energy and cannot be stored as body fat.

Second, fresh vegetable oils spoil. Microsaturated™ vegetable oils have a long shelf life and will not spoil. The MCT oil molecules act as “bumper guards,” protecting the vegetable oil molecules against oxidation—the chemical process that causes fresh vegetable oils to spoil. And this is accomplished without the partial hydrogenation process that produces harmful trans fats.

Third, You get better metabolism. Microlipids™ improve calcium absorption (typically by six–eight percent, and as high as 15% in some tests), and increase oxygen consumption (by 28% in some tests).

Fourth, Microsaturated™ vegetable oils give you extra health benefits without the “cardboard” taste common to artificial fat replacer molecules like Olestra (Olean®) because they are real fat.

Fifth, studies suggest that MCTs increase satiety—the sense of fullness—so a person eating a Microlipids™ cooking oil or other food product containing Microlipids™ will tend to eat less.

Sixth, Microsaturation™ contributes to improved global agricultural efficiency. Four slides in our slide show explain this effect.

Will Microlipids™ fats and oils be considered regulated nutritional supplements?

We don’t think so. However, even if Microlipids™ fats and oils were determined by the FDA to be nutritional supplements, they would be exempt from the provisions of the DSHEA because Microlipid Technologies has bills of lading for MCT oil deliveries that pre-date passage in 1994 of the DSHEA.

Your website talks about increasing agricultural efficiency. However, what happens to the other 85%—the non-MCFA portion—of whole coconut oil not needed for food use if Microsaturation™ leads to a substantial increase in demand for medium-chain fatty acids… resulting in increased coconut oil production?

Coconut oil is an excellent biofuel source, especially under a scenario where additional supply has a neutral impact upon consumer prices. And quite remarkably, it turns out that removing the medium-chain fatty acids from whole coconut oil actually improves cold weather fuel performance.

However, of perhaps greater practical importance, about half (~48%) of whole coconut oil is lauric acid, a key ingredient in soaps, shampoos, detergents and lubricants. Lauric acid also has anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, and studies suggest it may be anti-viral as well.

Will MCTs be hydrolyzed and generate an odor if heated in a mixture of oil and water?

Yes. However, water should never be mixed and heated with cooking oil for safety reasons. Water is heavier than oil and will sink to the bottom of a pan where, if accidentally overheated, it can form steam and propel the oil up and out of the pan with explosive force.

And not incidentally, water should never be used to extinguish an oil fire in a frying pan, as the expanding steam could spray the burning oil around the kitchen and start a catastrophic fire.

Will MCT oil and the second oil in a Microsaturated™ blend separate over time?

No. We have samples that have remained shelf stable for over five years. Inventor Gus Papathanasopoulos’ exhaustive experiments led to a combination of mixing velocity and low heat that encourage the much greater number (~2x more) of low viscosity MCT molecules to spatially saturate the long-chain fatty acid molecules of the other oil. And because of basic physics, the two oils don’t separate over time.

Think of it this way: Oil floats on water because oil is less dense than water. However, all cooking oils have about the same density, so there is no differential basis for two blended cooking oils to separate.