Corn Oil – Best Health Benefits

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Corn Oil

Corn oil is a healthy edible oil commonly used in our cooking, like canola oil or safflower oil. Corn oil is quite a healthy oil because it comprises polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs ) and low on saturated fat. It is also used in skincare and haircare, besides many other industrial applications.

Source

Corn oil is extracted from the germ of corn. The germ is the small germinating part of the seed, which grows into a new maize plant. These germs are rich in nutrients and oils. There are various methods of extracting oil from the seed germs. However, the best oil in terms of health benefits is cold-pressed oil. The oil, when extracted, is dense and needs to be refined before it is used for cooking purposes. One can also use unrefined oil as it contains more health-boosting plant phytochemicals. The common process of making corn oil involves expeller pressing. The oil is then treated with a solvent. After that, it is refined, which gets rid of free fatty acids. Finally, it is sent through steam distillation to get rid of volatile organic compounds. However, this process leads to the loss of useful compounds and also leads to contamination with the solvent, although very small.

A few producers make 100 % pure unrefined corn oil, which is extracted using the cold-pressed method. This is expensive than other corn oils, but it is natural and organic.

Other Names

It is also known as maize oil.

Blends Well With

Corn oil can be used for massage oil, although it is not that popular. It can carry essential oils and, as such, can be used in aromatherapy massages. It has a mild nutty flavor which should go well with essential oils of nuts.

Properties

Corn oil is an edible oil with a few therapeutic properties.

  • Anticholesterol – The most studied property of corn oil is its ability to lower LDL blood cholesterol when taken within limits.
  • Emollient – It is a moisturizer for the skin.
  • Hair conditioner – Corn oil makes hair more manageable, although it is not recommended to use it as hair oil.
  • Immunostimulant – Corn oil provides essential fatty acids like linoleic acid ( omega – 6 ), which is required for some immune system functions.
  • Tonic – Linoleic acid is required to properly function kidneys, liver, heart, reproductive system, and digestive system.
  • Hypotensive – Like olive oil, it reduces blood pressure post-consumption in hypertensive patients.
  • Antioxidant – Corn oil contains Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant.

Color, Taste, and Aroma

Corn oil is dark in color when unrefined. As it gets refined, it turns pale yellow. It has a nutty taste with a hint of corn as well. One can feel the taste of corn on the cob in the unrefined, cold-pressed oil. However, refined and processed oils lose their aroma and much of the taste as well.

Corn Oil

Health Benefits

Cholesterol-Lowering Effect

Corn oil has received much attention in recent years for its ability to lower blood cholesterol [1]. It is also being compared with olive oil to find out which oil performs better in terms of health benefits. Corn oil contains phytosterols insignificant amount. These are sterol compounds that are derived from plant sources and are similar to cholesterol in structure. Many plant sterols have a powerful ability to reduce the absorption of cholesterol. Some others help the body to use more cholesterol so that there is less in the serum.

In this famous study, it was found that corn oil does affect the absorption of cholesterol in the body. People were fed a diet rich in cholesterol. There was much higher cholesterol absorption in corn oil from which sterols had been reduced. This effect was observed using 150 mg/kg of body weight corn oil supplementation. This implies that using corn oil in the diet, like for cooking or as salad dressing, should lower LDL cholesterol unless corn oil is taken in such high amounts that its saturated fat content increases cholesterol levels.

Heart Health

Corn oil is good for the health of the cardiovascular system if taken within limits. Corn oil is rich in linoleic acids and other PUFAs ( polyunsaturated fatty acids ). A diet that contains about 8 – 10 % of the total energy from PUFAs is good for heart health [2]. Our regular diet usually contains only about 5 % even though we may be consuming lots of fats. This means that our diet should be rich in foods that contain PUFAs, like corn oil.

PUFAs also have LDL cholesterol-lowering activity. This contributes to the earlier cholesterol-lowering effect caused by phytosterols.

High Blood Pressure

Consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids lowers high blood pressure in people who are suffering from hypertension [5]. Corn oil specifically can reduce blood pressure levels by about 10 %. However, as always, one should keep the consumption of fats within limits, no matter how healthy.

Corn Oil for Skin

One can apply corn oil to the skin as a massage oil. It is an excellent emollient, though not as good as the well-known massage oils like olive, coconut, or sweet almond. Unrefined corn oil has a slight corn-like aroma which some people may prefer. It improves skin functioning because of the presence of linoleic acid and vitamin E in it. Corn oil is a gentle oil, and one can use it as the base oil for household products like lip balms, salves, creams, and night oils. Corn oil is about 59 % linoleic acid, and because of it, this oil penetrates quickly into the skin.

Corn Oil for Hair

Corn oil is not conventionally a “hair oil.” One can use it as a hot oil treatment 1 – 2 times a week. It helps dry and undernourished hair. It conditions the hair and makes them smooth.

For Pets

Corn oil is also used for animals. It is gentle and great for their skincare. Massaging corn oil on a dog’s hair makes the coat healthier. Corn oil is also fed to horses to treat dull coat conditions. Corn oil provides them with healthy fats and more energy. However, their diet should also contain something rich in omega-3 fatty acid to balance out excess omega-6 from corn oil.

Uses

Corn oil is used in home remedies for hair and skin care, and it offers many health benefits. However, it has some applications in industries as well.

  • Deep frying – Corn oil is a preferred oil for cooking, intense frying. Its smoke point is 450 ° F, which is second only to soybean oil. That makes corn oil one of the best oils for making deep-fried recipes, like french fries.
  • Soap making
  • Carrier for medicines.
  • As an ingredient in insecticides
  • It is preventing corrosion on iron surfaces ( rustproofing ).
  • Manufacture of nitroglycerin. Did you know that nitroglycerin is also used as a vasodilator in heart conditions like a heart attack?
  • It is also used in biodiesel technology.

Side effects, Safe Dosage, and Toxicity Issues

Corn oil is generally not toxic if it has been produced using the cold-pressed method. If solvents were used to extract the oil, then it can lead to serious adverse health effects in the long run. However, corn oil has a very high amount of linoleic acid ( omega -6 ) with very little alpha-linolenic acid ( omega -3 ). Research has identified that a rich diet in omega-6 but lacking in omega-3 can lead to systemic inflammation in our body. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 could hold the key to inflammatory diseases like arthritis and acne. Therefore, one should make sure to eat enough omega-3 in the diet as well. It is all about balance.

Nutritional and Medicinal Information

The health benefits of any food item are derived from its nutrients. These are the nutrition facts of corn oil. The most important thing to note about an edible oil is its fatty acid composition. 100 gm of corn oil contains :

  • 12.9 gm Saturated Fat
  • 54.6 gm Polyunsaturated fats ( PUFA )
  • 27.5 gm Monounsaturated fats ( MUFA)

This is quite different from olive oil, which contains 72 gm Monounsaturated Fatty Acids.

The complete fatty acid nutritional profile of corn oil

NutrientPercentageProperty
Gamma Linoleic Acid (18:3)-%PUFA
Stearic Acid (18:0)2-3 %Saturated fat
Palmitic Acid (16:0)11-13 %Saturated fat
Palmitoleic Acid (16:1)– %MUFA
Oleic Acid (18:1)25-31 %MUFA
Linoleic Acid (18:2)54-60 %PUFA
Alpha Linolenic Acid(18:3)1 %PUFA
Erucic Acid (22:1)– %MUFA
Gondoic Acid (20:1)– %MUFA
Behenic Acid (22:0)– %Saturated fat
Arachidic Acid (20:0)– %Saturated fat

Source : 3

Vitamins and Minerals in Corn Oil

This oil does not contain any vitamin or mineral except Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and choline. [4]

  • Vitamin E – 100 gm oil contains 14.3 mg Vitamin E, 71 % of the Daily Value DV.
  • Vitamin K – 100 gm corn oil contains 1.9 mcg ( microgram ) Vitamin K making 2 % of the DV.
  • Choline – Corn oil contains 0.2 mg choline.

Concern About Trans Fatty Acids

Corn oil is one of the few vegetable oils that contain trans fats. However, 100 gm of corn oil contains just 0.3 gm of trans fats [4]. Even though trans fats are really bad for cardiovascular health, this amount is pretty small.

Phytosterols

Corn oil is used to synthesize certain phytosterols and then used as supplements. Natural corn oil contains a small amount of unsaponifiable matter. 100 gm of corn oil contains about 1000 mg ( 1 gm ) of phytosterols, which is relatively high. The crude, unrefined oil has an even higher amount of phytosterols.

There are many kinds of phytosterols, like campesterol, stigmasterol, and the like. However, the principal phytosterol in corn oil is sitosterol and its derivatives, like dihydro sitosterol. An isomer of sitosterol, called beta-sitosterol, is the main compound responsible for its cholesterol-lowering effect. [6]

Chemical Properties

Apart from nutrition facts, some chemical properties like antioxidant capacity are also relevant. Unfortunately, some of the most important properties like pH, ORAC ( antioxidant power ), and comedogenicity are unknown.

NutrientPercentageProperty
Density 0.922-0.928  g/mlgreat for massage oil
Storage temperature lowIdeal temperature for storage
Comedogenicity –Pore clogging potential ( 0 – 5 )
ORAC –Antioxidant Power
pH – Measure of Acidity
Peroxide Value less than 10 Measure of Initial Rancidity
Saponification Value 189-195 Measure of the average carbon chain length
Iodine Value 120-130 Measure of unsaturation of oil
Free Fatty Acids 2.52 % Percentage of volatile oils

Source : 3

Corn oil is a healthy cooking oil that can be used for deep frying. It offers many health benefits in small amounts.

Buying and Storage

Corn oil is very easily available. One can get it at any food store. However, one needs to search to find extra virgin corn oil, which is cold-pressed and unrefined. This one would cost a few bucks more. This oil needs to be stored in the refrigerator; otherwise, it turns cloudy. It does not have an impressive shelf life, which only worsens if exposed to light and heat.

References

1. Phytosterols that are naturally present in commercial corn oil significantly reduce cholesterol absorption in humans. Ostlund RE Jr1, Racette SB, Okeke A, Stenson WF. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Jun;75(6):1000-4

2. Food uses and health effects of corn oil. Dupont J1, White PJ, Carpenter MP, Schaefer EJ, Meydani SN, Elson CE, Woods M, Gorbach SL. J Am Coll Nutr. 1990 Oct;9(5):438-70.

3. Corn Oil. Corn Refiners Association

4. Oil, vegetable, corn, industrial and retail, all-purpose salad or cooking. NutritionData.Self.Com

5. Blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats fed butterfat, corn oil, or fish oil. N Karanja, T Phanouvong, D A McCarron.

6. THE PHYTOSTEROLS OF CORN OIL’. BY R. J. ANDERSON AND R. I, SHRINE.

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