Benefits & Side Effects of Corn Oil

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

There might be a number of potential benefits from corn oil, including its ability to prevent oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, lower “bad” cholesterol, protect the skin, boost vision health and minimize allergic reactions, among others. However, there might also be some side effects you need to consider, including weight gain and potential toxicity. Some of these side effects might be heavily dependent on the type of corn oil you use, and the manner in which it was extracted from the corn itself.

What is Corn Oil?

Corn oil is derived from the germ of the corn plant, one of the most widely grown and relied on crops in the world. Due to this huge availability, it might be one of the most inexpensive vegetable oils, and thus one of the most popular. Corn oil can be acquired through an extended process of expeller pressing, refinement, and steam distillation. While this creates an oil that may have a very high smoke point, making it ideal for cooking purposes, it can also saps many of the beneficial compounds from the oil, in which case, there may be few health benefits. That being said, even the unrefined version of this oil might be very high in fat and calories and can be considered less healthy than many other vegetable oils, such as olive or almond oil. If you want to benefit from using corn oil, seek out varieties that have been cold-pressed, and are labelled organic or unrefined. These may have a lower smoke point, but can also possess the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that provide corn oil’s various health benefits.

Close-up image of a container filled with corn oil and a small sack of corn surrounded with corn cobs

Corn oil could be a valuable frying oil. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Oil, corn, industrial and retail, all purpose salad or cooking
Serving Size :
Energy 900
Energy [kJ]3766
Total lipid (fat) [g]100
Choline, total [mg]0.2
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]14.3
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]1.9
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]12.95
14:0 [g]0.02
16:0 [g]10.58
17:0 [g]0.07
18:0 [g]1.85
20:0 [g]0.43
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]27.58
16:1 [g]0.11
16:1 c [g]0.11
18:1 [g]27.33
18:1 c [g]27.33
20:1 [g]0.13
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]54.68
18:2 [g]53.52
18:2 n-6 c,c [g]53.23
18:2 i [g]0.29
18:3 [g]1.16
18:3 n-3 c,c,c (ALA) [g]1.16
Stigmasterol [mg]56
Campesterol [mg]189
Beta-sitosterol [mg]621
Sources include : USDA [1]

Benefits & Uses of Corn Oil

People primarily use corn oil as cooking oil, due to its semi-neutral flavor and cost, in comparison to other vegetable oils. However, some people might use organic corn oil in medicinal or topical applications, and even as a massage oil. The efficacy of this oil for health depends on the source and processing method of oil. Unrefined, organic oil might deliver some benefits, as explained below.

Might Balance Cholesterol Levels

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are both needed by the body, as they can help to control inflammation and excess cholesterol. However, these fats may not balanced in most forms of corn oil, particularly in refined varieties. Therefore, this oil can reduce blood pressure and balance cholesterol in very limited quantities, so use the oil sparingly when cooking.  [2]

Might reduce Inflammation

Both omega-3 and omega-6 might be known to work against inflammation when consumed in moderation in the body. This can help relieve symptoms of arthritis, as well as headaches, gastrointestinal problems and even inflammatory conditions of the skin.  [3]

Might Improve Vision Health

There may be other ingredients besides fats in corn oil, such as flavonoids and antioxidants, such as lutein, which can reduce free radical activity in the body. Specifically, lutein may be able to protect vision health and prevent the development of cataracts.  [4]

Might Prevent Chronic Diseases

Monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, flavonoids, and vitamin E may all have antioxidant properties, which can help reduce oxidative stress throughout the body. When used in moderation, this oil can help to prevent chronic disease, while also helping to make the skin look and feel younger. [5]

Might Reduce Allergies

Some of the compounds in corn oil might have been known to reduce allergic reactivity in the body, helping to keep symptoms of asthma and rhinitis at bay. Although corn oil is rarely used as a topical oil, it might help allergic reactions on the skin when applied directly. [6]

Aid to Skin Care

Whether you use corn oil directly on your skin or consume small amounts of it, the antioxidants and tocopherols in the oil might help prevent skin infections and help to relieve irritation, blemishes, eczema, and psoriasis. It may even help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and other age spots. However, remember that this oil can be very high in fat, and should always be consumed in moderation, no matter how good it makes your skin look! [7]

Might be Rich In Phytosterols

There may be a huge reduction in cholesterol absorption due to the presence of Phytosterols, the cholesterol-lowering activity agent. [8]

Corn Oil Nutrition Facts

Although there might be some debate about the health effects of corn oil, the nutritional facts of this oil are quite clear, and when used in responsible amounts, this oil could provide certain key nutrients to the body. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can be found in high levels in unrefined corn oil. This includes linoleic and oleic acids, although when it comes to the balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in corn oil, the ratio is far from ideal. There may be nearly 50 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, whereas the recommended ratio is 1:1. You might also benefit from the high levels of vitamin E in this oil, as well as limited levels of vitamin A, xanthins and trace amounts of other antioxidant compounds. [9]

Side Effects of Corn Oil

There might be numerous side effects of corn oil, including potential toxicity, stomach irritation, and weight gain. Even when used in small amounts, people seeking a healthy vegetable oil can be typically directed away from corn oil. If you are going to use this oil, however, be sure to use organic and unrefined corn oil, which might have the highest level of potentially beneficial compounds.

Heart Health

Although there may be some monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in corn oil, the balance of omega-3 to omega-6 is wildly skewed, and this oil might remain very high in fat. A single tablespoon can contain more than 20% of your daily fat allowance. It can cause cholesterol problems for some who use an excessive amount, particular those who are already dealing with cardiovascular issues.  [10]


Due to the high level of herbicide and pesticide use in agricultural practices, and the various countries where corn oil can be produced, there may be a chance of toxicity in this oil. This might manifest in trouble with your liver and kidneys. As mentioned before, it is important to know exactly where your corn oil comes from.


Corn oil may have some health benefits, but it may also be very high in calories (more than 120 per tablespoon, compared to 40 per tablespoon of olive oil). As a result, excessive use of this oil can significantly boost your daily caloric intake, and you may not even realize it, easily compromising your weight loss goals. Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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