best natural foods

Rice bran oil

Rice bran oil is not commonly used. I don't recall seeing this oil sold in the past and it is only in recent years that several brands have started to appear, in supermarkets and health foods stores.

Yet rice bran oil ranks high among the healthiest cooking oils.

This is a serious oil to consider. Not only is it healthy, but it is also cheap - since rice is the world's most widely eaten grain and the majority of the rice eaten is white rice, with the bran removed. There is therefore plenty of rice bran available for extracting oil.

Personally, rice bran and peanut oil are the two types of cooking oil that I use at home when I need to cook with plenty of oil and cannot afford to use something more expensive, such as when I deep fry or fry a fish or even an egg.

This is a highly versatile oil. It has a very high smoke point, making it suitable for deep frying and other forms of high heat cooking.

In fact, it has the highest smoke point among both common and less common cooking oils.

Type of monounsaturated fat Smoke point
Rice bran oil 490ºF
Tea seed / Camellia oil 485ºF
High oleic canola oil 475ºF
Peanut oil (refined) 450ºF
Sesame oil (semi-refined) 450ºF
Extra virgin olive oil 375ºF
Sesame oil (unrefined) 350ºF
Type of saturated fat Smoke point
Coconut oil 450ºF
Lard 375ºF
Butter 350ºF

Monounsaturated fats

The table above shows only monounsaturated and saturated fats, as these are the only oils suitabale for high heat cooking. Polyunsatured vebegetable cooking oils generally have much lower smoke points of just over 200ºF and they are not suitable for high heat cooking.

The high heat performance - and low price - makes rice bran oil particularly suitable for industrial and commercial cooking to replace vegerable shortening, which contains very harmful trans fats. Unlike margarine, shortening and other partially-hydrogenated oils, rice bran oil has zero trans fats.

As a mainly monounsaturated fat, the oil from rice bran contains roughly:

This fatty acid profile comes close to what major health authorities recommend as the "ideal". I don't want to emphasize too much on this because I don't agree with the concept of an "ideal" or "best" cooking oil. That is a concept used more for marketing. But yes, rice bran oil does have a good mix of the different types of fatty acids.

Antioxidants in rice bran oil

Rice bran and its oil are said to be extremely rich in antioxidants, containing about 120 types. It is claimed to have even more antioxidants than olive oil.

In particular, rice bran contains two types of vitamin E, tocopherol and tocotrienol. The second type, tocotrienol is said to be more effective in fighting free radicals. It is not commonly found in other cooking oils, but abundant in rice bran oil.

Another powerful antioxidant is gamma oryzanol and this is present only in the oil of rice bran, not in other types of vegetable oils. Plus, it has polyphenols, whcih are the same category of antioxidants as those found in olive oil.

Antioxidants in oils play two important roles. When consumed, they help prevent degenerative diseases like heart disease and cancer, as well as slow down the effects of aging. Before consumption, antioxidants protect the oil against spoilage and gives it a longer shelf life.

Flavor and 'texture'

As a cooking oil, rice bran is light both in terms of flavor and viscosity - meaning it is not sticky.

A light flavor means that the oil will not strongly influence the taste of food, so that the food retains more of its original flavor rather than takes on the flavor of the oil. This is both a plus and a minus point. In some cases, we do want the oil to add flavor and this is why we use premium olive oils or toasted sesame oil. When we want a neutral oil, then oils like rice bran will be more suitable.

Lower viscosity means that less oil sticks to the food. So deep fried products, for example, will be less oily and less fattening. It also means that pots and pans will be easier to clean after cooking. In contrast, canola oil is rather viscous and many users find their pots and pans harder to clean when they cook with canola oil.

Click here to read about rice bran oil and other healthy, monounsaturated fats.

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Healthy cooking oils
Monounsaturated fats
Polyunsaturated fats - the dangers
Saturated fats - why they are not harmful
Saturated fats - health benefits
Saturated fats and heart disease I
Saturated fats and heart disease II
What is canola oil
Canola oil dangers
Duck fat
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Choosing olive oils - what to look for
Extra virgin oilve oil / olive oil fraud
Olive oil health benefits
Olive oil types and grades
Olive pomace oil
Premium olive oils
Rapeseed = canola
Rice bran oil
Cooking with raw / toasted sesame oil
Sesame oil health benefits