(Family Features) Corn may be the top crop in Iowa, but many consumers are not aware of corn oil’s heart-healthy benefits¹ and its versatility in the kitchen.

When cooking for your family, selecting the best ingredients for a heart-healthy meal can be challenging and there is one ingredient that is often the core of any recipe: cooking oil. However, navigating the cooking oil aisle can be confusing, so this guide breaks down everything the home chef needs to know about cooking with oil.   

Heart-Health Focused

Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is important to your heart health, and when it comes to impact on cholesterol, not all cooking oils are created equal. Next time you find yourself reaching for extra virgin olive oil at the grocery store, consider swapping it out for corn oil, which a study shows can help lower cholesterol two times more than extra virgin olive oil². Corn oil also has nearly five times the amount of polyunsaturated fats compared to olive oil³ and these heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats help reduce cholesterol levels in your blood4. Making a conscious effort to use ingredients like Mazola® Corn Oil is a smart, heart-healthy choice for your family.

A Gut Decision

When it comes to lowering your cholesterol and staying heart healthy, go with your gut. Corn oil contains cholesterol-blocking plant sterols – plant-based micronutrients that help block the absorption of cholesterol in your gut and work to prevent bad cholesterol (LDL) from entering the blood stream5. Corn oil contains nearly four times more cholesterol-blocking plant sterols than olive oil, three times as many as vegetable oil and nearly 1.5x more than canola oil6.

Sourcing the Best Ingredients

Today, more and more families are paying close attention to where their food comes from and prefer locally sourced ingredients. Opting for local food can give you more confidence in the ingredients you use in your family’s meals. Mazola® Corn Oil is produced from corn in the Midwest, including corn grown in Iowa. A lot of olive oil is imported from the Mediterranean region, while most canola oil comes from our friendly neighbors up north in Canada. But, did you know that you can get heart-healthy corn oil that’s grown and made right here in the US?

Multipurpose Functionality

Whether you fancy yourself a top-notch baker, grill master or just starting out, each ingredient selected plays an important role in obtaining the meal’s desired taste. Extra virgin olive oil has a strong flavor that can change the taste of the foods you cook. Corn oil is an all-purpose cooking oil with a neutral taste that lets the true flavors of your dish come through, making it the perfect ingredient for heart-healthy dishes like pan-fried salmon or in a salad dressing over a bed of spinach. 

Corn oil can also handle the heat in the kitchen because of its high smoke point (450°F), making it a great, all-purpose cooking oil for everything from grilling and sauteing to stir frying and baking. This is key for crafting quality meals at home because once a smoke point is exceeded, the food flavor and nutritional value are negatively affected. Find delicious recipes featuring Mazola Corn Oil at Mazola.com.

Photo courtesy of iStock

¹ Corn oil is a cholesterol free food that contains 14g of total fat per serving. See nutrition information on product label or at Mazola.com for fat and saturated fat content. Very limited and preliminary scientific evidence suggests that eating about 1 tbsp (16 grams) of corn oil daily may reduce the risk of heart disease due to the unsaturated fat content in corn oil. FDA concludes 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 .One serving of this product contains 14 grams of corn oil.

²Maki KC, Lawless Al, Kelley KM, Kaden VN, Dicklin MR. Benefits of corn oil compared to extra virgin olive oil consumption on the plasma lipid profile in men and women with elevated cholesterol; results from a controlled feeding trial, J. Clin, Lipidol, January/February 2016 5 issue. Study sponsored in part by ACH Food Companies, Inc.

³USDA National Nutrient Database SR-28, 2016.

4http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Polyunsaturated-Fats_UCM_301461_Article.jsp#.WL8NsvkrJD8

510USDA and USDHHS 2010; FDA 2000, 2010; Wu et al. 2009; Demonty et al. 2008, Ellegard et al. 2008; Mensink et al. 2010

6Based on analysis of corn oil and 2016 USDA comparison of other cooking oils: Corn Oil has plant sterols content of 135.6 mg/serving vs. 30.0 mg/serving for Olive Oil, 40.8 mg/serving for Vegetable Oil, and 93.9 mg/serving for Canola Oil.

Get the daily newsletter in your inbox each morning with today's top stories.