Extracted from rice bran, the outer layer of a grain of rice, rice bran oil is a common cooking oil in many Asian countries. Rice bran is a natural byproduct of rice milling, so it is typically used as animal feed. Oftentimes, people discard rice bran, but the oil that’s made from it has received a lot of attention as of late.
What Is Rice Bran Oil?
You may see rice bran oil in the ingredients of a package of dehydrated vegetable chips. This may confuse some or spark interest, given that olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or vegetable oil are typically on ingredient lists. The reason it is used when making chips, or in Asian cuisine, is because it is suitable for high-temperature cooking. Such cooking includes deep-frying or stir-frying, which is why many chefs use it when making tempura.
Rice bran oil is a great source of monounsaturated fat, containing seven grams per tablespoon. In that same tablespoon, rice bran oil also contains five grams of polyunsaturated fat and three grams of saturated fat. In comparison, one tablespoon of olive oil contains 11 grams of monounsaturated fat, two grams of saturated fat, and one gram of polyunsaturated fat. Several studies found that consuming good fats like poly and monounsaturated fats can improve blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Rice bran oil is also a great source of vitamin E and vitamin K. Continue reading to learn about potential health benefits of rice bran oil.
May Support Heart Health
The Japanese government recognized rice bran oil as a health food because it may help lower cholesterol levels. Early animal studies monitored mice that consumed rice bran oil. The findings indicated that rice bran oil helped to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol while boosting HDL (good) cholesterol. A review of 11 controlled trials found that increasing rice bran oil intake decreased LDL cholesterol levels. Lowering LDL levels by just one mg/dL per day can reduce the risk of heart disease by one to two percent. Another four-week study monitored people with hyperlipidemia, who followed a low-calorie diet and consumed two tablespoons of rice bran oil per day. At the end of the study, they had lower LDL cholesterol levels, as well as reduced body weight and hip circumference.
Contains Beneficial Nutrients
Similar to other nontropical vegetable oils like canola or olive oil, rice bran oil has a higher amount of poly and monounsaturated fats than saturated fat. Both poly and monounsaturated fats have a positive effect on heart function, working to lower bad cholesterol levels. Rice bran oil also contains a lot of vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin that may boost immune function and blood vessel health. The tocotrienols, plant sterols, and oryzanol in rice bran oil are compounds that also exhibit several health benefits.
May Have Anti-Cancer Effects
Over the years, researchers have studied the effects of a group of antioxidants known as tocotrienols. They exist in rice bran oil and may exhibit anti-cancer effects. One test-tube study found that the tocotrienols in rice bran oil seemed to protect human and animal cells that were exposed to ionizing radiation. High levels of such radiation can cause cancer, and other harmful effects to your health. Additional test-tube studies observed that the tocotrienols had strong anti-cancer properties when combined with other anti-cancer therapies like chemotherapy. The research of whether or not the tocotrienols enhance the chemotherapy is still ongoing, though. More studies are necessary and rice bran oil is not a cancer treatment.
May Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Insulin naturally lowers blood sugar by transporting sugar to your cells. If you develop insulin resistance, the body stops responding to insulin. According to several studies, rice bran oil may support healthy blood sugar levels by improving insulin resistance. A human study monitored 19 healthy men after eating a single meal that contained 3.7 grams of rice bran oil. Overall, blood sugar levels dropped by 15% in the participants that consumed rice bran oil compared to those who didn’t eat it. A test-tube study on mouse cells found that rice bran oil reduced insulin resistance by way of neutralizing free radicals. These unstable molecules can lead to oxidative stress, inflammation, and blood sugar imbalance. More research is still necessary on this matter, despite the promising results of existing human and animal studies.