Benefits of Corn Oil Products Still Questionable

Benefits of Corn Oil Products Still Questionable

The best way to give your body the balanced nutrition it needs is by eating a variety of nutrient-packed foods every day. Just be sure to stay within your daily calorie needs. A healthy eating plan is one that:


Corn oil is oil extracted from the germ of corn (maize). Its main use is in cooking, where its high smoke point makes it a valuable frying oil. It is also a key ingredient in some margarines. Corn oil has a milder taste and is less expensive than most other types of vegetable oils.Refined corn oil is 99% triglyceride, with proportions of approximately 59% polyunsaturated fatty acid, 24% monounsaturated fatty acid, and 13% saturated fatty acid.

Unsaturated fats (oils) do not raise blood cholesterol. Unsaturated fats occur in vegetable oils, most nuts, olives, avocados, and fatty fish like salmon. Unsaturated oils include both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Olive, canola, sunflower, and peanut oils are some of the oils high in monounsaturated fats. Vegetable oils such as soybean oil, corn oil, and cottonseed oil and many kinds of nuts are good sources of polyunsaturated fats. Some fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, contain omega-3 fatty acids that are being studied to determine if they
offer protection against heart disease. Use moderate amounts of food high in unsaturated fats, taking care to avoid excess calories.

Corn oil is a popular vegetable oil in the US and in many other countries. Because of its pleasant nutty flavor, its good stability, and its popularity for making margarines, corn oil has long been considered a premium vegetable oil. Among all of the vegetable oils, corn oil ranks tenth in terms of annual production, and it represents about 2% of the vegetable oil produced worldwide. The chemical composition of corn oil is distinguished by its high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (an average value of 60-75% linoleic acid) and among the commodity vegetable oils corn oil has the highest levels of unsaponifiables (>2%), the highest levels of phytosterols (> 1%), and the highest levels of gamma-tocopherol (about 0.10%).

"Corn oil is the backbone of the American diet. We consume up to 20 times more omega-6 fatty acids in our diet compared to omega-3 acids," principal investigator Dr. William Aronson, professor in the department of urology.Omega-6 fatty acids, the predominant polyunsaturated fatty acids in the Western diet, are found in corn, safflower oils and red meats. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish, including salmon, tuna and sardines.

Corn oil is highly unsaturated. The oil content of high oil corn should be managed like that from other oilseeds. A Malaysian study (Ng et al., 1991) was conducted to compare the effects of diets containing palm oil (olein), corn oil and coconut oil on serum cholesterol. Coconut oil raised serum total cholesterol by > 10% whereas both corn and palm oil diet reduced the total cholesterol; corn oil diet reduced the total cholesterol by 36% and palm oil diet by 19%.Although,the unique compounds in this new type of corn oil are found to be health-promoting, it may justify a premium price and increased profits for producers of this new type of corn oil.

Manufacturers of corn oil and foods containing the fat can now promote their products as a way to possibly reduce the risk of heart disease, U.S. health regulators said in a letter recently.

The Food and Drug Administration, responding to a request from ACH Food Companies Inc., said there was enough evidence to support such a qualified claim, as long as consumers were not misled.

ACH Food Companies, a division of Associated British Foods, asked the agency last year to allow corn oil and related products to carry the heart benefits claim. Its products include Mazola corn oil, Karo light corn syrup and Argo corn starch.

"Based on FDA's consideration of the scientific evidence submitted with your petition, and other pertinent scientific evidence, FDA concludes that there is sufficient evidence for a qualified health claim, provided that the claim is appropriately worded so as to not mislead consumers," the FDA said in a March 26 letter to the FDA allows food manufacturers to make health claims on certain products when scientific studies support them.

When there is less evidence available, companies can make so-called qualified health claims that are more limited. While the industry says such claims can help inform consumers, critics contend they are based on slim data and can lead consumers astray.

To qualify for new corn oil claim, the agency said products must be low in cholesterol and saturated fat, among other criteria. Pure corn oil as well as vegetable oil blends and spreads, salad dressings, shortenings and certain baked goods containing the oil are eligible for the claim.

Those that meet the criteria can say that "very limited and preliminary scientific evidence suggests that eating about 1 tablespoon (16 grams) of corn oil daily may reduce the risk of heart disease due to the unsaturated fat content in corn oil" the FDA said.

The claim must also say that "FDA concludes that there is little scientific evidence supporting this claim. To achieve this possible benefit, corn oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day."

More than 25 million Americans, or 12 percent, are diagnosed with heart disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics. It is the nation's No. 1 killer.

Heart disease encompasses a number of possible conditions, according to the CDC. It can include heart attack-inducing coronary heart disease as well as hypertensive heart disease and congestive heart failure.

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