Cooking oil constitutes a large percentage of daily fat intake in a balanced diet. So choosing a healthy oil might make all the difference to your diet and health. But this is easily said than done considering the many varieties of oils available in the market! The battle of the cooking oils has been raging for ages, and the latest to enter the fray is rice bran oil. And from the looks of it, it’s here to stay! So what makes rice bran oil a healthy contender? The American Heart Association and World Health Organization recommend a balance of SAFA (saturated fatty acids), MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids), and PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) in the ideal cooking oil.
Used for centuries in Asian countries such as Japan and China, rice bran oil, made from the brown, hard outer layer of rice, comes closest to this requirement. It is light and has a mild flavor and neutral taste, which means it does not alter the flavor of the food.
But beyond taste, flavor, and texture, the components in rice bran oil offer many a reason for you to include it in your cooking routine.
1. Lower The Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol levels play a big role in your cardiac health. Excess cholesterol can block the arteries and pose an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Oryzanol, the wonder component of rice bran oil, has cholesterol-lowering properties. It significantly lowers the bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases the good one (HDL). It also decreases cholesterol absorption in the blood, thus making the oil heart-healthy.1
2. Beat The Pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure can cause a variety of complications such as atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), stroke, and kidney failure. Research shows that a combination of rice bran oil and sesame oil in daily cooking reduces blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure. When compared to participants who took only medication or only supplemented their diet with the oil blend, those who took both a blend of the two oils and medication showed twice the drop in blood pressure.2
3. Deflate Inflammation And Banish Allergies
Rice bran oil has strong anti-inflammatory as well as hypoallergenic properties. The many plant-based biochemicals it contains, prominent being cycloartenyl ferulate, are shown to reduce inflammation and allergic reactions.3 As inflammation has been linked to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, stroke, migraine, and cancer, consuming foods with anti-inflammatory properties can only do you good. Rice bran oil fits the bill perfectly.
4. Load Up On Antioxidants
Antioxidants play an important role in limiting the oxidation of cells and are the first line of defense against potentially cancerous free radicals. Tocopherol or vitamin E, the main antioxidant component of rice bran oil, has numerous health benefits – it can reduce cholesterol, ease premenstrual symptoms, repair and maintain skin collagen, and prevent cataracts and Alzheimer’s disease. Other components of rice bran oil like tocotrienol and gamma-oryzanol also prevent the oxidation of cells, thus slowing the aging process.4
5. Stop Cancer In Its Tracks
Oils, when heated above their smoking point, produce harmful free radicals, which are highly toxic chemicals. They can cause major damage to the DNA, cell content, and cell membranes and play an important role in the development of cancerous cells. Rice bran oil has a high smoking point (490°F) and thus can be used safely for daily cooking, and even deep frying, without any alteration in its chemical composition that could give rise to free radicals.5 In fact, tocotrienol in rice bran oil has been shown to have anti-cancer effects.6
6. Boost Your Brain Functions
Fat is a major constituent of brain matter and healthy fats improve brain function in a significant way. Rice bran oil is found to enhance cognition and promote brain health by having a positive effect on the autonomic nervous system.7 Rice bran extract is also found to have protective properties against neurodegenerative disorders caused by aging.8
|↑1||Mäkynen, K., C. Chitchumroonchokchai, S. Adisakwattana, M. Failla, and T. Ariyapitipun. “Effect of gamma-oryzanol on the bioaccessibility and synthesis of cholesterol.” Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 16, no. 1 (2012): 49-56.|
|↑2||Devarajan S, Singh R, Chatterjee B, Zhang B and Ali A. “A blend of sesame oil and rice bran oil lowers the blood pressure and improves the lipid profile in mild-to-moderate hypertensive patients.” J Clin Lipidol. 2016 Mar-Apr; 10(2): 339-349.|
|↑3||Islam, Shafiqul, Reiko Nagasaka, Kazuyuki Ohara, Takamitsu Hosoya, Hiroshi Ozaki, Hideki Ushio, and Masatoshi Hori. “Biological abilities of rice bran-derived antioxidant phytochemicals for medical therapy.” Current topics in medicinal chemistry 11, no. 14 (2011): 1847-1853|
|↑4||Xu, Zhimin, Na Hua, and J. Samuel Godber. “Antioxidant activity of tocopherols, tocotrienols, and γ-oryzanol components from rice bran against cholesterol oxidation accelerated by 2, 2′-azobis (2-methylpropionamidine) dihydrochloride.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 49, no. 4 (2001): 2077-2081.|
|↑5||Dreher, Don, and Alain François Junod. “Role of oxygen free radicals in cancer development.”European Journal of cancer 32, no. 1 (1996): 30-38.|
|↑6||Iqbal J, Minhajuddin M, and Beg ZH. “Suppression of 7,12-dimethylbenz[alpha]anthracene-induced carcinogenesis and hypercholesterolaemia in rats by tocotrienol-rich fraction isolated from rice bran oil.” Eur J Cancer Prev.2003 Dec;12(6):447-53.|
|↑7||Saunders, R. M. “The properties of rice bran as a foodstuff.” Cereal Foods World 35, no. 7 (1990): 632-634.|
|↑8||Stephanie Hagl, Alexa Kocher, Christina Schiborr, and Schamim H Eckert. “Rice bran extract protects from mitochondrial dysfunction in guinea pig brains” Pharmocol Res 2013 Oct; 76:17-27.|