Often thrown away as waste product of milling, bran is the part of cereal grain which is particularly rich in dietary fiber, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Especially, the essential fatty acids or oil present in the bran layer of rice is being touted as one of the most superior oils with ideal ratios of fatty acids desirable for good health and prevention of heart diseases.
Abundant rice bran and rice bran oil in India!
India produces 155 million tonnes paddy and has a potential to produce 8.76 million tonnes of rice bran and 1.53 million tonnes of rice bran oil. In 2014-15, India was the highest producer of rice bran oil with an output of 9.5 lakh tonnes, followed by China with two lakh tonnes and Japan 80,000 tonnes. As we can see India produces abundant rice and hence rice bran oil is our very own local product which should be popularized so as to boost country’s economy as well.
What’s in the bran?
Bran is the hard outer brown layer of the cereal grain below the hull/ husk (see figure). It is an integral part of whole grain along with the germ. Often this layer is lost during milling of the rice into white rice. Brown rice is the one that has the bran and germ layer intact and hence is more nutritious.
Three major beneficial components of Rice Bran:
Dietary fiber- The bran of rice contains insoluble dietary fiber which will remain un-absorbed in the stomach and undergo fermentation in the intestine to supply energy to healthy gut bacteria.
Good fats- Oil constitutes 10-20% of the bran which can be extracted as Rice bran oil. It contains 40% monounsaturated fatty acid which lower bad cholesterol (LDL and raise the good cholesterol (HDL). It also contains good amounts of the omega 3 fatty acid precursor alpha linolenic acid and hence the ideal ratio of omega 6: omega 3 fatty acids. It contains 20% saturated fats and no trans fats.
Nutritionally active components and Natural antioxidants- Rice bran oil is rich in bioactive phytochemicals such as gamma-oryzanol, phytosterols and tocopherols/ tocotrienols. Gamma oryzanol is associated with the cholesterol lowering properties of Rice bran oil. The tocotrienols act as anti-oxidant protecting the body from oxidative stress occurring due to pollution, toxins, viruses, physical stress etc. These also have anti-thrombotic activity which means that they prevent clotting of blood.
However, chemical refining can lead to loss of these important bioactive compounds. It is recommended that Rice bran oil should be extracted using physical processes only so as to retain its maximum nutritive value.
Rice Bran oil brands in India:
- Healthy Heart seems to be the best available Rice Bran oil In India followed by Dhara.
- All the brands tested were found to be free of toxic substances , heavy metals and pesticides.
- Healthy heart, Sathi and Priya were found to be the more economical brands.
There is more than one reason to buy Rice bran oil today and start using it. It can be used for all kinds of Indian cooking, even deep frying where it gets less absorbed and gives a lighter product. However, we have mentioned in our previous blog and are further reinforcing the fact that NO ONE SINGLE oil is perfect and hence using different oils in rotation is advisable. One can chose to blend oils at home level also. Rice bran oil definitely must be one of the oils in your kitchen shelf.