If you’re using corn oil to cook, you may be missing out on a number of health benefits that other types of oil could provide. Perilla oil comes from a tall plant that grows in parts of Asia including China, India, Japan, and Korea. It also grows in North America, where it’s known by a number of other names, including purple mint, Chinese basil, and wild coleus.

Perilla oil is commonly used in Korean cuisine, and it can also be used as a drying oil or fuel. Pressed from roasted seeds of the plant, the oil generally leaves behind a nutty taste. More important than flavor, the oil has a very high omega-3 fatty acid content (over 50 percent fatty acid) compared to most other plant oils. The omega-3 content in perilla oil is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which you can also find in flaxseed, with lower amounts in walnuts, soy, and animal-based sources like fish oil.

Perilla oil also contains the vital omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fatty acids are beneficial to your health — especially for normal immune system functioning — and have been linked to improving memory-related conditions.

It Can Help with Allergies

How does perilla oil help exactly? Past research, including a recent study involving perilla leaf extract, shows that the oil can help stop the chemicals that bring about allergic and inflammatory responses.

In another study, people with asthma were followed for four weeks and given perilla seed extract to see if their lung function improved. Results showed that perilla oil can improve airflow by inhibiting the production of compounds that lead to asthma.

Perilla oil might also prevent and treat a variety of other conditions, such as colon cancer and memory problems.

Past research suggests that fish oil and some vegetable oils, both of which contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, can lessen the risk of colon cancer. This has led scientists to test the effectiveness of perilla oil, which has even more omega-3 fatty acid content. In one study, results showed that getting just a small amount of perilla oil — about 25 percent of daily fat intake — can help reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Omega-3 fatty acids have also been widely known to improve learning and memory in children and adults — and can relieve other conditions such as nausea and sunstroke. However, there are new studies taking place that may have data that conflict these claims.

Cooking with Perilla Oil

Rather than supplements, a better way to get these healthy fatty acids into your diet is through food, and cooking with perilla oil. Korean cuisine makes heavy use of perilla seed oil and it is especially popular for sautéing vegetables. It is an ingredient in Korean salad dressings, which gives them an earthy taste. If you end up buying perilla oil, just remember that its shelf life is much shorter than other oils — use it within a year.

In addition to the oil, the leaves themselves, called kketyip, are popular in Korean cuisine. Pickled perilla leaves, kkaennip jangajji, are a quick, spicy and tangy appetizer. For a perilla-infused condiment, you can boil perilla leaves and sesame leaves in soy sauce, then strain. The leaves can also be tossed and cooked into soups and stews.

Ultimately, considering the health benefits associated with perilla oil and its pleasant flavor as a cooking ingredient, its use would be a positive addition to your daily regimen.