Why Cook in Rice Bran Oil?

by Marixie Ann Obsioma, MT, undergrad MD on November 25, 2020
Last updated on May 23, 2021

Oil is essential for our daily cooking requirement, and that is why it is vital for us to choose the one that has many benefits in it. They influence the flavor in the food and also impact our health. Rice bran oil boosts the immune system, promotes weight loss, helps in relieving menstrual symptoms, protects and promotes heart health, increases cognitive strength and lowers allergic reactions. It has the right balance of monosaturated, saturated and poly saturated fats in it which is healthy for our body. Rice bran oil contains oryzanol, an antioxidant known to help in lowering cholesterol levels. This oil finds its usefulness in treating various skin disorders like rosacea, acne, eczema. The moisturizing properties of rice bran oil is an excellent remedy for dry skin. The oil is very light and provides hydration to the skin without making it oily. Rice bran oil also helps in arresting hair fall and promoting the growth of new hair.

Why Cook in Rice Bran Oil

What is Rice Bran Oil?

Rice bran oil is extracted from the hard outer brown layer of rice after chaff or rice husk. It is well known for its high smoke point of 232 °C or 450 °F and mild flavor, making it fit for high-temperature cooking methods such as stir-frying and deep-frying. In the category of cooking oils, rice bran oil is perhaps the healthiest choice for a number of reasons.

One, it has an ideal balance of polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) and monounsaturated fats (MUFA). Rice Bran Oil has 37 percent polyunsaturated fats and 45 percent monounsaturated fats, almost a 1:1 ratio. Since rice bran oil is made from bran it is rich in Vitamin E, an antioxidant. In comparison to other cooking oils, it is cheap and can be produced in India. Its scientific name is “Oryza Sativa.” It is popular cooking oil in Asian countries, especially Bangladesh, Japan, India and China.

Health Benefits of Rice Bran Oil

Rice Bran oil is prevalent amongst the masses due to the health benefits that it carries. We will give you a detailed view on how you can benefit by introducing rice bran oil in your diet.

1. Neutral Taste

Flavor is a significant aspect in the dishes that you make. A neutral taste ensures that your food retains its flavor. Rice bran oil does not influence the flavor of the ingredients that you use in cooking the dish. It is best used for baking cookies or cakes. A slight touch of this oil in your salads will give your dish a flavorful taste. Light and versatile, it is very popular nowadays.

2. It Contains Beneficial Nutrients

Rice bran oil provides healthy fats and a variety of other nutrients.

One tablespoon packs 120 calories and 14 grams of fat (1).

Similarly to other nontropical vegetable oils like canola and olive oil, rice bran oil contains higher proportions of heart-healthy unsaturated fat than saturated fat.

It also boasts 29% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin involved in immune function and blood vessel health (2).

Other compounds in rice bran oil, such as tocotrienols, oryzanol, and plant sterols, have been studied for their health benefits (3).

3. Right Composition of Fats

Rice bran oil contains the right composition of the monosaturated, saturated and polyunsaturated fats that good for your body. They are also free of trans-fats.

4. May Promote Heart Health

Rice bran oil may promote heart health (4).

In fact, the Japanese government recognizes this oil as a health food because of its cholesterol-lowering effects .

Early studies in mice show that rice bran oil significantly lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol while boosting HDL (good) cholesterol (5, 6).

Human studies likewise note that this oil reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol (7).

A review of 11 randomized, controlled trials in 344 people linked rice bran oil intake to significantly lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. An average drop of 6.91 mg/dL. Just a 1 mg/dL decrease in LDL can reduce heart disease risk by 1–2% (8).

Eight of the studies involved people with hyperlipidemia, or high concentrations of fat in the blood, while the remaining ones monitored people without this condition.

In a 4-week study in people with hyperlipidemia, following a low-calorie diet with 2 tablespoons of rice bran oil per day led to significantly decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as reductions in other heart disease risk factors, such as body weight and hip circumference (9).

Researchers attributed the improvements in cholesterol levels to the oil’s plant sterols, which prevent your body from absorbing cholesterol.

5. It Can Help Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

Rice bran oil may support healthy blood sugar levels by improving insulin resistance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes (10).

Insulin lowers blood sugar by transporting sugar into your cells. Yet, if you develop insulin resistance, your body stops responding to this hormone.

In a test-tube study in mouse cells, rice bran oil reduced insulin resistance by neutralizing free radicals, which are unstable molecules that may lead to oxidative stress (11).

In a 17-day study in mice with type 2 diabetes, rice bran oil significantly lowered blood sugar levels by increasing insulin levels, compared with the control group (12).

A human study found similar results. The morning after 19 healthy men ate a single meal containing 3.7 grams of rice bran mixed in oil, their blood sugar levels dropped 15%, compared with those who didn’t eat this ingredient (13).

Yet, no changes in insulin levels occurred, suggesting that rice bran oil may even support healthy blood sugar levels without affecting insulin (14).

As such, more research is needed.

6. Effective Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Inflammatory

Several compounds in rice bran oil have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

One of these compounds is oryzanol, which has been shown to suppress several enzymes that promote inflammation (15).

In particular, it may target inflammation in your blood vessels and heart membrane. If untreated, this inflammation can trigger atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to heart disease (16).

Furthermore, test-tube studies in mouse cells reveal that other active compounds called tocotrienols inhibit inflammation (17).

In a 4-week study, 59 people with hyperlipidemia took either 2 tablespoons of rice bran oil or soybean oil. Compared with soybean oil, rice bran oil significantly increased people’s antioxidant capacity, which may help combat oxidative stress (18).

7. May Protect Against Cancer

Tocotrienols, a group of antioxidants in rice bran oil, may have anticancer effects.

Test-tube and animal studies indicate that tocotrienols suppress the growth of various cancer cells, including those of the breast, lung, ovary, liver, brain, and pancreas (19, 20).

In one test-tube study, tocotrienols from rice bran oil seemed to protect human and animal cells exposed to ionizing radiation, high levels of which may cause harmful effects like cancer (21).

Additional test-tube studies reveal that tocotrienols have strong anticancer effects when combined with other anticancer drugs or chemotherapy (22).

However, it’s controversial to supplement with antioxidants, such as tocotrienols, during chemotherapy. That’s because research is mixed on whether doing so boosts or impairs treatment (23).

Thus, more studies are necessary. Keep in mind that rice bran oil should not be considered a treatment for cancer.

8. Rich in Vitamin E

Rice bran oil is made from bran which is known to be very rich in Vitamin E. This oil contains antioxidant and powerful ant mutagenic properties which can aid in the prevention of cancer. Vitamin E is also known to boost immunity.

9. Treats Eczema

Dry skin and eczema can be successfully treated with the topical use of rice bran oil. Its moisturising property aids in reducing this kind of skin disorders.

10. May Help Prevent Acne

Acne-Prone skin is usually seen to have a deficiency in linoleic acid. A perfect balance of oleic and linoleic acids in the rice bran oil make it suitable for treating acne. This oil contains palmitic acid which promotes healthy skin.

11. Possibly Delays Aging Process

The presence of squalene in rice bran oil helps in tightening the skin and aids in improving skin health. The formation of wrinkles slows down, which keeps the ageing process in control.

12. Promotes Hair Growth

Inositol is a carbohydrate compound that is known to prevent dandruff and reduce split ends. This compound is found in rice bran oil in abundance. This oil also contains fatty acids like omega-3 which prevents premature greying of your hair.

13. May Fight Bad Breath

Oil pulling is an ancient practice that involves swishing oil around in your mouth like mouthwash to improve oral health.

One study in 30 pregnant women found that oil pulling with rice bran oil reduced bad breath (24).

Researchers speculate that the oil’s rich antioxidant content may be responsible.

14. Boosts Immune Health

Rice bran oil may improve your immune response, which is your body’s first line of defense against bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing organisms.

For example, a test-tube study in mouse cells revealed that an oryzanol-rich extract from rice bran oil enhanced immune response (25).

However, it’s unclear whether this effect occurs in humans (26).

15. Has a High Smoking Point

With a high smoking point ranging between 254C, rice bran oil is a perfect choice for using in deep frying. Even at a high temperature, this oil does not lose its nutritional qualities. It has been observed that food that is cooked at very high temperatures absorbs less oil.

16. Long Shelf Life

As rice bran oil is very rich in antioxidants, it helps in making it resist rancidity thereby reducing spoilage. This also helps in increasing its shelf life.

17. Easy to Add to Your Diet

Rice bran oil is quite versatile.

Unlike olive and canola oils, it’s ideal for frying and baking because its subtle taste won’t overpower a dish. It has a nutty, earthy flavor similar to that of peanut oil.

Its high smoke point means that it’s suitable for high-temperature cooking. Moreover, its beneficial compounds, such as oryzanol and tocotrienols, are well preserved when cooked.

Although few products specify production methods, rice bran oil processed using solvent extraction rather than cold pressing may boast more beneficial compounds.

You can use the oil for stir-fries, soups, dressings, and vinaigrettes. It’s also easy to add to hot cereals like oatmeal.

For a unique twist, you can blend rice bran oil with other oils, such as olive or canola oils.

18. Naturally Non-GMO

Vegetable oils such as canola oil, soybean oil and corn oil are often derived from genetically modified plants. Many people choose to limit consumption of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) due to concerns related to allergies and antibiotic resistance as well as numerous other potential health hazards linked to GMO consumption. However, because rice bran oil is naturally non-GMO, it can help minimize the possible health issues associated with GMOs.

19. Weight Loss

Yes, you heard it right! People on weight loss regime can cook food in rice brain oil. Even though it is high in calories, the viscosity of rice bran oil ensures that the food absorbs 20% of the oil. The total caloric intake while consuming food cooked in rice bran oil is comparatively lesser than other cooking oils. It can thus facilitate weight loss with ease. However, it must be kept in mind that anything is beneficial as far as it is used in moderation. Excessive use of rice bran oil is not going to beneficial for the body or for weight loss.

Rice bran oil is also rich in antioxidants that can help improve the metabolism, thereby promoting weight loss.

Are There Any Possible Side Effects?

Although there are multiple potential rice bran oil health benefits, there are several rice bran oil side effects to consider as well.

For starters, it’s highly processed and refined, much like other vegetable oils such as grapeseed oil and canola. According to a recent 2019 study in JAMA Internal Medicine, a 10 percent increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods was linked to a 14 percent higher risk of death among middle-aged adults.

Additionally, many people wonder: is rice bran oil high in omega-6? While it does contain a good amount of monounsaturated fats and omega-9 fatty acids, it is also high in omega-6 as well. Consuming excess amounts of omega-6 can lead to inflammation, which can contribute to chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer (28).

In moderation, using a bit of organic rice bran oil from time to time is unlikely to have a negative impact on overall health. However, it shouldn’t be a staple in your diet and should be paired with plenty of heart-healthy fats such as coconut oil and olive oil.

For those with celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten, an important question to consider is, “is rice bran oil gluten free?” Although rice bran oil does not normally contain gluten, it’s important to select certified gluten-free products if you’re following a gluten-free diet, which can prevent potential cross contamination.

Additionally, although uncommon, some people may be allergic to the oil. If you experience any food allergy symptoms such as itching, swelling or hives after consumption or when applying it to the skin, discontinue use immediately and consult with your doctor.

Where to Buy and How to Use Rice Bran Oil?

Wondering where to buy rice bran oil? It can typically be found alongside other cooking oils in most major stores as well as online retailers. Products like rice bran oil soap are widely available at many stores as well.

It’s best to use rice bran oil for high-heat cooking methods where other types of cooking oil may not be suitable, such as grilling, frying or sautéing. Keep in mind, however, that it should also be paired with a variety of other healthy fats in your diet, including coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil or grass-fed butter.

You can also use rice bran oil for hair by massaging it directly into the scalp one to two times weekly. Alternatively, try adding a few drops to your shampoo or mix it into a homemade face mask to take advantage of its skin-soothing properties.

Key Takeaway 

Rice bran oil is produced from rice bran, the outer layer of a rice kernel.

It’s rising in popularity due to its potential health benefits, such as improved blood sugar control and heart health. What’s more, it offers several antioxidants and may provide anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects. However, it’s also highly processed and loaded with omega-6 fatty acids, which can be pro-inflammatory if consumed in high amounts.

Therefore, it’s best to use rice bran oil in moderation. 


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