Cooking your food is running the risk of creating heat-induced damage. Therefore, the oils you choose to use in your cooking should definitely be stable enough to resist chemical changes when heated to high temperatures. Polyunsaturated vegetable oils, including corn, canola, and soybean oils, create oxidized cholesterol and inflict damage on your health. Learn the pitfalls of using corn oil for cooking – and is this oil good for any other purpose?
What Is Corn Oil?
Corn or maize oil is extracted from the germ of corn, and its main use is for cooking. It is also a key ingredient in margarine and other processed foods.
Corn oil is also a feedstock used for biodiesel. From 2012 to 2014, the use of nonfood-grade (NFG) corn oil for biodiesel production has grown tremendously.1 The oil also has other industrial uses.
Despite being generally less expensive than other vegetable oils, A huge factor to consider with corn oil is the staggering amounts of government corn subsidy in the United States. Corn emerges as the most heavily subsidized crop in the country, raking in over 77 billion dollars from the government between 1995 and 2010. It’s small wonder that this helps unhealthy food – such as those containing corn oil and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – easily undersell healthy types.
The issue I have with using corn oil as well as other vegetable oils for cooking is not just the oxidized cholesterol they create (which significantly increases your risk for coronary heart disease), but also their very high amount of omega-6 fats, which throws your omega-6 and omega-3 ratio in the body out of balance. Corn oil is reported to have an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 49:12 – a very far cry from the ideal 1:1 ratio!
The standard American diet already has far too much omega-6, and the serious distortion of the ratio increases your risk of many degenerative diseases.
Uses of Corn Oil
Apart from serving as a less-than-ideal cooking oil, corn oil has several industrial uses, including as an addition to soap, salve, paint, ink, textiles, and insecticides. It also sometimes functions as a carrier for drug molecules in pharmaceutical products.
Corn oil is also considered for hair care.3 It is said to contain 54 percent of omega-6 and 28 percent of omega-9 fats, which lock water inside your hair and make it stronger and better protected against dryness. The promoted benefits include moisturizing the hair follicles, nourishing the scalp, helping prevent hair dryness and loss, promoting growth, and helping prevent external damage.
Yahoo! Voices4 highlights the various uses of corn oil around the house, including the following:
- Make your sink shine – Rub oil on your sink using a soft cloth.
- Clean wood surface of stuck paper – Rub the area where the paper is stuck with the oil. Let stand until the paper is soft enough for peeling away.
- Soften baseball mitt – Rub the palm of the mitt with corn oil, fold the mitt around the ball, and use a rubber band to secure it. Place the mitt overnight between your mattress.
- Clean up spots from wood furniture – Put corn oil on a soft cloth, dip into cigarette or cigar ashes, and wipe the area where the white spot or watermark is until it’s gone.
- Coat your snow shovel – Rubbing the oil on your shovel will prevent snow from sticking to it.
Composition of Corn Oil
Corn oil contains 12.7 percent monounsaturated, 58.7 polyunsaturated, and 24.2 percent saturated fats.
One important concern you should know about corn oil is that over 90 percent of corn and soy, two of the most common food ingredients today, are grown from genetically modified (GM) seeds.
A study demonstrates the toxicity of three GM corn varieties from biotech company Monsanto, and they found – “for the first time in the world” – that GMO “are neither sufficiently healthy nor proper to be commercialized… Each time, for all three GMOs, the kidneys and liver, which are the main organs that react to a chemical food poisoning, had problems.”5
Benefits of Corn Oil
Let’s focus on the inherent benefits of corn, which contains more sugar than other vegetables but, compared with cereal grains like wheat and rice, has a lower calorie count. Corn is filled with flavonoids and lutein, which together help maintain healthy mucus membranes, skin, and vision. Corn is also a vitamin A, thiamin, and vitamin B6 source.
StyleCraze.com6 expands on corn’s nutritional profile, stating that while corn does not contain large amounts of nutrients, it contains a lot of water and is rich in dietary fiber.
These days, it is very important to learn if your favorite corn is organic or grown from GE seeds. Find out if farmers selling sweet corn at the marketplace or roadside stands used pesticides or other chemicals. Skip the purchase if they did.
How to Make Corn Oil
Almost all corn oils available on the market today are expeller-pressed, then solvent-extracted using hexane or 2-methylpentane (isohexane).7 After evaporating from the corn oil, the solvent is recovered and re-used. Post-extraction, the oil is refined through degumming and/or alkali treatment, which remove phosphatides. Additionally, alkali treatment neutralized free fatty acids and performs bleaching. Final steps in refining include the remove of waxes, as well as deodorization by steam distillation of the oil.
There are specialty oil producers than manufacture unrefined, 100 percent expeller-pressed corn oil. This produce is more expensive because it has a much lower yield than the combination expeller and solvent process, along with a smaller market share.8
How Does Corn Oil Work?
Corn oil is touted and used for cooking, although I would not recommend using it as such because of oxidation and other issues.
However, it is promoted to have a number of practical uses, such as for skin conditioning, hot oil massage, and as carrier oil in aromatherapy9 - use it as carrier oil for tea tree or rosemary oil. Mix a tablespoon of oil with two drops of tea tree oil, apply on your hair for 15 minutes, and rinse with a shampoo. This way you can have the oil’s moisturizing effect and healing essential oil action.
Is Corn Oil Safe?
Corn oil and other polyunsaturated vegetable oils are heavily marketed for “healthful” cooking alongside the vilification of saturated fats, which actually do not cause heart disease and, on the contrary, serves as a healthful addition in your diet. Aside from the oxidized oil dangers I discussed in the first section, there are many issues with corn oil and these vegetables oils, including:
- The majority of these vegetables oils in the United States are made from genetically modified crops, containing toxins like glyphosate and Bt toxin found in GM corn and soy.
- They are heavily processed, potentially causing a range of ill health consequences.
If you want the health benefits you may have to consume corn itself – it has impressive health benefits ranging from vitamin A to xanthins, and boasts of high fiber content. Your intake, though, should still be limited, as corn contains more sugar than other vegetables.
Side Effects of Corn Oil
Some of the worst foods you will consume are those cooked with polyunsaturated vegetable oils like corn.10 The introduction of oxidized cholesterol into your system is a big concern, converting your good cholesterol into bad, which leads directly to vascular disease. Hydrogenated oils increase your breast cancer and heart disease risk.
I continue to recommend coconut oil if you want something that’s less susceptible to heat damage.