Corn oil is a healthy edible oil which we use commonly in our cooking, like canola oil or safflower oil. Corn oil is quite a healthy oil because it is composed mainly of polyunsaurated fatty acids (PUFAs ) and low on saturated fat. It is also used in skin care and hair care, besides many other industrial applications.
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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 the 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 of 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 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 cold pressed method. This is expensive than other corn oils, but it is natural and organic.
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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 aromathrapy massages. It has a mild nutty flavor which should go well with essential oils of nuts.
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 for proper functioning of 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.
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Color, Taste and Aroma
Corn oil is dark in color when unrefined. As it gets refined, it turns pale yellow in color. It has a nutty taste with a hint of corn as well. One can literally 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.
1. Cholesterol Lowering Effect
Corn oil has received much attention in the recent years for its ability to lower blood cholesterol . It is also being compared with olive oil to find out which oil performs better in terms of health benefits. Corn oil contains phytosterols in significant amount. These are sterol compounds that are derived from plant sources and are similar to cholesterol in structure. Many plant sterols have powerful ability to reduce absorption of cholesterol. Some others help the body to use more cholesterol so that there is less in the serum.
In this popular study, it was found that corn oil does in fact affect 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 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.
2. Heart Health
Corn oil is good for health of cardovascular system if taken within limits. Corn oil is rich in linoelic acids and other PUFAs ( polyunsaturated fatty acids ). A diet which contains about 8 – 10 % of the total energy from PUFAs is good for heart health .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.
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3. High Blood Pressure
Consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids lowers high blood pressure in people who are suffering from hypertension . Corn oil specifically is able to lower blood pressure levels by about 10 %. However, as always, one should keep the consumption of fats within limits, no matter how healthy.
4. Corn Oil for Skin
One can apply corn oil for skin as a massage oil. It is a nice emollient, though not as good as the well known massage oils like olive, coconut or sweet almond. Unrefined corn oil has slight corn like aroma which may be preferred by some people. 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 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.
5. 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.
6. For Pets
Corn oil is also used for animals. It is gentle and great for their skin care. 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 which is rich in omega-3 fatty acid to balance out excess omega-6 from corn oil.
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, especially deep 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
- Preventing corrosion on iron surfaces ( rustproofing ).
- Manufacture of nitroglycerin. Did you know that nitroglycerin is also used as a vasodilator in heart conditions like 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 cold pressed method. If solvents were used to extract the oil, then it can lead to serious adverse health effects in the long run. Corn oil however has a very high amount of linoleic acid ( omega -6 ) with very little alpha-linolenic acid ( omega -3 ). Research has identified that a diet which is rich in omega-6 but lacking in omega-3 can lead to systemic inflammation in our body. In fact, 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 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 contain 72 gm Monounsaturated Fatty Acids.
Complete fatty acid nutritional profile of corn oil
|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 for Vitamin E, Vitamin K and choline. 
- Vitamin E – 100 gm oil contains 14.3 mg Vitamin E, which is 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 contains trans fats. However 100 gm of corn oil contains just 0.3 gm of trans fats . Even though trans fats are really bad for cardiovascular health, this amount is pretty small.
Corn oil is actually used to synthesize certain phytosterols and then used as supplmenets. 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 quite high. Crude, unrefined oil has 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 dihydrositosterol. An isomer of sitosterol, called beta-sitosterol is the main compound responsible for its cholesterol lowering effect. 
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 not known.
|Density||0.922-0.928 g/ml||great for massage oil|
|Storage temperature||low||Ideal temperature for storage|
|Comedogenicity||–||Pore clogging potential ( 0 – 5 )|
|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 which 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 any food store. However, one needs to do some searching 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 and that only gets worse if it is exposed to light and heat.
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.