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Is Corn Oil Good For You?

Last updated Jan. 19, 2019

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Corn oil is the oil which is extracted from the germ of corn known as maize. It is mainly used for cooking, but also has many industrial uses.


Corn oil is the oil which is extracted from the germ of corn known as maize. It is mainly used for cooking, but also has many industrial uses. Corn oil has a high smoking point and is therefore considered as a good frying oil. Corn oil is also rich in polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E.

Corn oil contains diverse fats of which the polyunsaturated fat content is the highest and saturated fat content is the lowest. Reduced intake of saturated fats and increased intake of polyunsaturated fats is associated with a decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 1990 suggests that corn oil is effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Along with being beneficial for heart health, the vitamin E content of corn oil is good for the skin and immune system. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 2001 confirmed the suggestions that corn oil may have a cholesterol-lowering effect. This study compared the effects of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats on the lipid profile and found that a diet containing corn oil had a significant cholesterol lowering effect. The hypocholestrolemic effect of corn oil may be due to its phytosterol content.

Corn oil is also said to have a potential protective effect against DNA damage in humans due to its vitamin E content, thereby reducing the risk of cancer.  A study conducted by Institute of Nutritional Science at the University of Vienna, Austria published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 1999 comparing the effects of corn oil, sunflower oil and olive oil on DNA damage and found that corn oil was successful in providing a better protective action against DNA damage. Apart from having an antioxidant effect and protection against cancer, vitamin E also plays an important role in immune function and other genetic functions.

Corn oil is energy dense and can contribute to caloric intake significantly. Portion control can help in maintaining the energy intake. Corn oil also contains a fair amount of monounsaturated fatty acids that are also said to have a beneficial effect on heart health, as it reduces the risk of atherosclerosis. Corn oil has good amounts of omega -6 fatty acids and very small amounts of omega -3 fatty acids. A good balance between omega -6 and omega- 3 fatty acids is essential for the functioning of various body processes. 

Corn oil can provide up to 125 calories in one tablespoon. It is recommended to measure the amount of corn oil before usage. Consumption of corn oil is recommended in moderation, as excessive consumption can have an opposite effect on heart health. It is better to be consumed in combination with other oils. More research is needed on the health effects of corn oil. The American Diabetes Association recommends the inclusion of polyunsaturated fats such as corn oil along with monounsaturated fat in the diet in order to decrease the risk of heart disease due to diabetes. Before selecting a suitable oil, it is beneficial to consult with a registered dietician.

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Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Jan. 19, 2019
Last updated: Jan. 19, 2019