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Rice Bran Oil – RBO Health Benefits, Composition and Contraindications

Rice is staple food for more than half of world’s population. It is believed to have originated about 7000 years ago in Eastern Asia in China and India. From here it spread to Japan, Iran, Indonesia and other parts of Asia and Mediterranean around 800 BC. Rice Bran Oil has been in use across the countries of Asia for more than 2000 years. India is the second largest producer of rice in the world with production of more than 100 million tonnes in 2014. The rice bran oil production stands at 0.98 million tonnes and India is a leading producer of this oil in the world. The state of West Bengal is a leading producer of the oil, followed by Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. This testifies its importance and benefits for health it provides.

Rice Bran Oil (also called as RBO) is made from the bran of rice. Rice bran is the brown outer covering of the rice grain and is rich in fiber, essential fatty acids, proteins, starch, vitamins and essential minerals.

Is Bran same as Chaff?

Bran should not be confused with ‘chaff’ since both are different. Chaff is coarser outer layer but it is not considered a part of the grain itself. You would have seen chaff being separated from the grain by threshing and winnowing. However, rice bran is obtained during the course of refining the grain as a byproduct of milling process.

Composition of Rice Bran Oil

As per the table given below, rice bran oil has about 75% unsaturated fatty acids and 25% saturated fatty acids. With more composition of unsaturated fatty acids, it is one of the healthiest oils for heart.

Total saturated fats25%
Total unsaturated fats75%
Oleic acid38%
Omega-3 fatty acidsα-Linolenic: 2.2%
Omega-6 fatty acidsLinoleic: 34.4%

RBO is essentially made up of fatty acids. Apart from fatty acids, it also contains Vitamin B, Vitamin E and certain other compounds. The oil has a high smoking point of 232°C which makes it good for deep frying and cooking purposes. 

Health benefits of Rice Bran Oil

Due to high unsaturated fatty acid component, vitamins, antioxidants and being laden with other nutrients, RBO is considered a safe oil for living a healthy life. It is trans-fat free and strikes very good balance among the mono and poly unsaturated fatty acids (almost a 1:1 ratio). This makes it one of the healthiest edible oils in the world.

1/7. RBO is good for health of heart.

It contains more unsaturated fatty acids than saturated, as is mentioned above. This means that bad cholesterol will not develop.

It contains oryzanol and a concentrated fraction of vitamin E called tocotrienol rich fraction (TRF) which is known to reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) from arteries. Also, there is overall reduction in total cholesterol levels. 

Studies on rats have shown that diets having rich TRF content were able to reduce LDL in rats from 40-60%. Clinical studies from India, Japan and USA have confirmed these results. 

It is said that for every 1% reduction in cholesterol, there was a 2% decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease. Both WHO and American Heart Association recommend use of rice bran oil for reducing cholesterol levels.

2/7. Helps against occurrence of Cancer

Vitamin E is an antioxidant and an anti-mutagenic in nature which is helpful in preventing cancer.

It was found that Tocotrienol Rich Fraction (TRF) present in oil was helpful in boosting activity of liver enzymes that helps in clearing toxin from liver much more efficiently. This reduces chances of liver cancer. 

3/7. Helps in weight loss

Besides being high in fibre component, the high viscosity of the oil ensures that the food absorbs no more than 20% of the oil, thereby reducing the caloric intake. Also, when consumed, it tends to increase the metabolic rate, which helps in reduction of body fat. 

4/7. Helps regulates blood sugar

Rice Bran Oil due to the presence of anti-hyperglycemic bio active compounds like tocopherols, tocotrienols, γ-oryzanol and unsaturated fatty acids. has proven good in reducing insulin resistance, which means that it improves the ability of body to control blood sugar levels in body.

5/7. Reduces swelling and pain

Compounds present in rice bran oil, such as oleic acids (particularly Omega 9) and alpha-linoleic acid are anti-inflammatory in nature and help in reducing pain and stiffness. 

6/7. Good for skin and hair

Rice Bran Oil penetrates well into the skin and does not stick to it. Therefore, it is known to be a good carrier oil which takes the nutrients into the skin. For this reason, it is called as a Rice Bran Carrier Oil, which is known for its ability to cleanse, soften, soothe, moisturise and nourish skin and hair.

Omega 9 fatty aid present in oil helps to slow down ageing (wrinkles), clears out the complexion and skin blemishes. It also helps in thick, long and shiny hair growth and removes dandruff.

Omega 6 fatty acid (Linoleic) helps in moisturising hair and skin and helps in its retention. It prevent acne, helps to heal wound on skin and shows anti-inflammation properties.

Palmitic acid softens the hair without leaving a greasy residue. Stearic acid helps in performing cleaning activity on hair and skin. It is good at removing dirt, sweat and excess sebum. 

It is also considered good for massaging the body as it does not leave greasy feel and also helps in wounded and inflamed skin. 

7/7. Nervous System Health

Presence of Vitamin E in RBO helps in balancing the endocrine hormones. It helps in proper neurological performance.

What makes Rice Bran Oil good for use in Cooking?

Certain properties of RBO make it an ideal choice for cooking. These are…

1/4. Neutral Taste

Rice bran oil has a neutral taste which does not subdue with the flavour of food. Therefore, it can also be used in cookies and other bakery products. It is used for grilling, making marinades and for dressing salads.

2/4. High Smoking Point

The high smoking point of the oil makes it ideal for stir frying and deep frying as well, besides being used in normal cooking. High smoking point prevents oil from catching fire in high temperature cooking situation. It does not lose its nutrient value after frying at high temperatures.

3/4. Less Viscosity

Rice bran oil is light and has less viscosity. This means that it you need about 20% less oil in cooking because it does not stick out in the foods as much as other oils do. 

4/4. Low Rancidity 

Presence of antioxidants in rice bran oil gives it a long shelf life and prevents occurrence of rancidity of oil. This also makes it a good choice for being used in homes for cooking purposes. 

Rice Bran Oil extraction

Rice bran oil is extracted using different techniques but it is the solvent extraction method which is most commonly used. The mechanical cold pressing method is another traditional method used.

The Solvent Extraction method makes use of hexane (a solvent) to improve the efficiency of extraction oil. The hexane solvent is removed from oil in later stages of processing. However, the oil extracted in this manner has certain disadvantages, such as oxidative deterioration and rancidity. 

Mechanical Cold Pressing has also been used traditionally for extraction of RBO. The benefit of using this method is that it does make use of chemicals or heat.

Contraindications or Possible Side Effects of using Rice Bran Oil 

1/5. Rice bran carrier oil is used only for cosmetic application purposes and it shall not be consumed. Therefore, it is also suggested to keep it away from the reach of children.

2/5. Before applying it on skin, allergy check on skin shall be performed. Simply take a small patch of oil on some part of the skin and observe it for 2 days (48 hours). 

3/5. Body takes time to adjust to rice bran oil. So, if there is an flatulence, gas or discomfort in stomach or itching or rashes on skin, then it shall not be used. 

4/5. People suffering from anaemia, intestinal ulcers, or have problem in swallowing or digesting shall not use RBO. 

5/5. RBO can lead to lowering of the blood calcium levels. Though this is good for preventing the occurrence of kidney stones, it could be detrimental for patients already having weak bones, such as those having osteoporosis or hypocalcemia. Therefore, doctoral consultation is important for these persons.

Read More…

[1] Rice Ban Oil (RBO) Adulteration

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