CORN and Corn Oil nutrition values, health benefits and side effects                               July 29, 2013

Corn has been an important nutritional resource for thousands of years because of its high protein and carbohydrate
content. Corn can be traced back to Mexican or central American cultures as early as 3400 B.C., and has become a
staple among Native American civilizations throughout the Western Hemisphere. Today, corn has less starch and is
sweeter. The sweetness accounts for its popularity among Americans. Its oil has good sensory qualities for use in salad
preparation and cooking. [1]

Varieties, Selection and Storage
There are more than two hundred varieties of corn. All are good sources of vitamin C, but only yellow kernels contain
small amounts of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. Make sure the husks are green, tight and fresh looking. Pull the
husk open to make sure that the ear contains tightly packed rows of plump kernels. The kernels should be smaller at the
tip of each ear. Large kernels at the tip is a sign of overmaturity. If you pinch a kernel, milky juice should spurt out. Corn
should be stored in a cool area. Warmth causes the sugar content of corn to be converted into starch. This process will
cause the ears to become less sweet. If the corn is not cooked shortly after it is purchased, then it should be stored in
refrigerator. Refrigeration helps the corn retain its sugar and vitamin C content. If you buy unhusked corn, keep it in its
husk until you are ready to cook it. This will help the corn retain its moisture content. To fully enjoy the great taste of
sweet corn, cook it as soon as possible.
Nutrition Facts of corn

Corn has a good nutrition facts. The serving size of 1 medium ear is 90 g. It contains 130 calories, 2 g of total fat, 0 mg of
cholesterol, 25 mg of sodium, 29 g of total carbohydrate, 4 g of dietary fiber, 9 g of sugars and 5 g of protein. Corn is
also a source of anti-oxidants, iron, vitamins A and C.
Potential Health Benefits of Corn

Corn also contains important chemicals called lectins. This unique group of proteins and glycoproteins attribute various
health benefits of corns. Several lectins may possess anticancer properties in vitro, in vivo, and in human case studies;
they may be used as anti-cancer agents, by binding to cancer cell membranes or receptors, causing cytotoxicity,
apoptosis of the cancer cells, and consequently inhibition of tumor growth. [9]

In addition to the anti-cancer properties, consumption of corn (and other grains) is also associated with reduced risk of
certain chronic diseases. The health benefits of corn are attributed in part to their unique phytochemical composition. [4]
The major portion of phenolics in grains existed in the bound form (85% in corn, 75% in oats and wheat, and 62% in
rice). In a study, ferulic acid was the major phenolic compound in grains tested, with free, soluble-conjugated, and bound
ferulic acids present in the ratio 0.1:1:100. Corn had the highest total antioxidant activity (181.42 micromol of vitamin C
equiv/g of grain), followed by wheat (76.70  micromol), oats (74.67 micromol), and rice (55.77 micromol). Bound
phytochemicals were the major contributors to the total antioxidant activity: 90% in wheat, 87% in corn, 71% in rice, and
58% in oats. Bound phytochemicals could survive stomach and intestinal digestion to reach the colon. This may partly
explain the mechanism of grain consumption in the prevention of colon cancer, other digestive cancers, breast cancer,
and prostate cancer. [4]

Processed sweet corn provide more benefits than raw sweet corn
Vitamin C in apples has been found to contribute <0.4% of total antioxidant activity, indicating most of the activity comes
from other phytochemicals. This suggests that processed fruits and vegetables may retain their antioxidant activity
despite the loss of vitamin C. It was found that thermal processing at 115 degrees C for 25 min significantly elevated the
total antioxidant activity of sweet corn by 44% and increased phytochemical content such as ferulic acid by 550% and
total phenolics by 54%, although there was a loss of 25% vitamin C. Consequently, processed sweet corn has increased
antioxidant activity equivalent to 210 mg of vitamin C/100 g of corn compared to the remaining 3.2 mg of vitamin C in the
sample that contributed only 1.5% of its total antioxidant activity. [5]

Corn Oil Preparation
By removing free fatty acids and phospholipids from the crude corn oil, the refined corn oil has excellent frying quality
and resistance to smoking or discoloration. Because of its pleasant taste, corn oil are often incorporated in margarines,
cooking or salad oil.

Prior to the civil war, the main sources for starch had been wheat and
potatoes. Corn refining began with the
development of the process for corn starch hydrolysis. By 1857, the corn-starch industry reached significant proportions
in the U.S. At that time, corn starch industry has only one product-starch. Today, products derived from corn starch
include corn syrup, anhydrous sugar, maltodextrin, dextrose, glucose and starch. [8]

Nutritional facts and health benefits of corn oil
Refined corn oil is composed of 99% triacylglycerols with polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) 59%, monounsaturated fatty
acid 24%, and saturated fatty acid (SFA) 13%. The polyunsaturated fatty acid is linoleic acid (C18: 2n-6) primarily, with a
small amount of linolenic acid (C18: 3n-3) giving a n-6/n-3 ratio of 83. Linoleic acid is essential for skin and cell
membrane integrity and icosanoids production. Icosanoids are necessary for reproductive, cardiovascular, renal, and
gastrointestinal functions and resistance to disease. Corn oil is also a good source of of ubiquinone, alpha- and
gamma-tocopherols (vitamin E). Because the consumption of corn oil can replace saturated fatty acids with
polyunsaturated fatty acids and corn oil contains a large amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, corn oil has benefits of
cholesterol-lowering effects, in general. [1]

In a study, rats was supplmented with a low-fat diet (2.2% lard plus 2.2% corn oil), a corn oil diet (17%), a salmon oil diet
(12.5%) plus 4.5% corn oil, or a lard diet (15%) plus 2% corn oil for eight weeks. All these diets contained 1%
cholesterol. It was found that the salmon oil-diet lowered the blood cholesterol (-50%) and triglyceride (-56%) while the
corn oil lowered the triglycerides by 40%. [2]

It was also found that phytosterols comprising less than 1% of commercial corn oil could substantially reduce cholesterol
absorption and this might account for part of the
cholesterol-lowering activity of corn oil from a study of healthy subjects
with a mean serum cholesterol level of 5.1 mmol/L. The cholesterol absorption was 38% higher after consumption of the
sterol-free corn oil than after consumption of commercial corn oil with an identical fatty acid content in a study of 10
healthy subjects. And, when corn oil phytosterols were added back to sterol-free corn oil at a concentration of 150
mg/test meal, cholesterol absorption was reduced by 12% after inclusion of 300 mg phytosterols. [3]

Corn oil side effects
According to a study from the University of Hawaii, fast-food chains are more likely than smaller restaurants to cook their
French fries in corn oil, which is higher in cholesterol-raising saturated fats than other vegetable oils. An article from
Bloomberg reports that the fry oil used now by the chains includes corn oil that is higher in saturated fats, that also raises
cholesterol. [10]

Animal studies have shown that supply of polyunsaturated fatty acid is one of the requirements for cancer growth.
Long-term dietary corn oil promotes azoxymethane-induced colon cancer development partly by inhibiting the tumor
suppressor gene p53-mediated mitochondria-dependent apoptosis in a study of male Sprague-Dawley rats. [6] However,
the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acid required for cancer growth is considered to be larger than that needed of the
host. Thus, excessive intake of corn oil is not recommended. [1] In addition, a significant positive relation was found
between mortality rate and the consumption of dietary corn and wheat flour was found in a study of esophageal cancer
cases in Shanxi Province, China. [7]
high fructose corn syrup

The replacement of sucrose with high fructose corn syrup in food products has been suggested as playing a role in the
development of obesity as a public health issue. [11] In a study of literature review, the meta-analysis articles found that
consumption of High Fructose Corn Syrup beverages can contribute to childhood
obesity. [12]


[1] Food uses and health effects of corn oil. J Am Coll Nutr. 1990 Oct;9(5):438-70. [2] Effects of fish oil, corn oil and lard
diets on lipid peroxidation status and glutathione peroxidase activities in rat heart. Lipids. 1989 Mar;24(3):179-86. [3]
Phytosterols that are naturally present in commercial corn oil significantly reduce cholesterol absorption in humans. Am J
Clin Nutr. 2002 Jun;75(6):1000-4. [4] Adom KK Liu RH Antioxidant activity of grains. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Oct
9;50(21):6182-7. [5] Dewanto V et al, Processed sweet corn has higher antioxidant activity. J Agric Food Chem. 2002
Aug 14;50(17):4959-64. [6] Dietary corn oil promotes colon cancer by inhibiting mitochondria-dependent apoptosis in
azoxymethane-treated rats. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2004 Nov;229(10):1017-25. [7] Corn and wheat-flour consumption
and mortality from esophageal cancer in Shanxi, China. Int J Cancer. 1993 Apr 1;53(6):902-6. [8] Corn Oil, Corn Refiners
Association, Online Publication, November 22, 2005. [9] Lectins as bioactive plant proteins: a potential in cancer
treatment. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2005;45(6):425-45. [10] Fast-Food Fries Cooked in Higher-Fat Corn Oil, Study
Shows January 18, 2010 [11] Ha V, et al, Fructose-containing sugars, blood pressure, and
cardiometabolic risk: a critical review. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2013 Aug;15(4):281-97. [12] Morgan RE. Does consumption
of high-fructose corn syrup beverages cause obesity in children? Pediatr Obes. 2013 Aug;8(4):249-54.
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