What is rice bran oil?
Imagine a grain of whole, freshly-harvested rice, sliced in half lengthwise and magnified many times. You would see a hard outer layer covering the whole rice seed, protecting it from the environment. This is called the husk, the hull, or chaff.
Inside this hard outer layer is a second layer called the bran, or inner husk. This is where rice bran oil is found. Bran represents only about 8% of the weight of the whole rice grain, but contains about 3/4 of the total oil. The bran is itself composed of four layers, and also includes the rice germ, or embryo. You’ve heard of wheat germ right? All grains have a “germ” sandwiched between the endosperm and the bran layer.
In the middle of the rice grain is the endosperm. This is the starchy part that we call “white rice” when the outer layers have been stripped off in a processing plant.
People in many Asian countries have been producing and cooking with rice bran oil for many years. The oil can be extracted from the bran either by pressing the steam-heated bran between heavy rollers or screw presses called “oil mills”, or by using solvents to chemically separate the oil from the bran. What’s left behind is a product called “defatted rice bran”. After the oil has been extracted, it must be purified.
What’s special about rice bran oil?
“Rice bran oil, not being a seed‐derived oil, has a composition qualitatively different from common vegetable oils.” [Kaimal et al., 2002]
- High smoke point: Rice bran oil has a high smoke point of 232 °C (450 °F), which means it is appropriate for high-temperature cooking methods such as stir frying and deep frying.
- Mild flavor: The oil has a mild to neutral taste, so it does not overpower the flavor of other foods.It is light, versatile and pleasant to use in salad dressings, baking dips etc.
- Balance: The oil has an ideal balance of polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) and monounsaturated fats (MUFA). In fact it contains 37% polyunsaturated fats and 45 % monounsaturated fats, almost a perfect 1:1 ratio.
- Suitable for people with histamine intolerance: Rice bran oil is listed as a safe food for sufferers of HIT.
- Health benefits: The oil is rich in vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients. It contains abundant vitamin E complex, tocopherols and antioxidants known as gamma aryzanol, as well as quantities of phytosterols, polyphenols and sqnalene. It is considered to be “heart friendly” and may help to lower cholesterol.
- Keeping qualities: Rice bran oil has a very good shelf life compared with other cooking oils.
Keep some rice bran oil in your pantry for healthier eating!
Reference: Origin of problems encountered in rice bran oil processing. Thengumpillil Narayana Balagopala Kaimal et.al. European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology. 9 April 2002. https://doi.org/10.1002/1438-9312(200204)104:4<203::AID-EJLT203>3.0.CO;2-X