Rice bran oil has become one of the most sought-after food products in India due to the shortage of vegetable oil resulting from global supply disruptions. Rice bran is traditionally used for poultry and cattle fields and is the major by-product of rice milling. Though, many oil mill owners have stated extracting rice oil that was previously popular among health-conscious consumers only. Earlier, rice bran oil was produced in very small quantities, hence, its price was more than other edible oil such as sunflower oil in India.
Rice bran oil covers a very small market in India for now but is becoming one of the fastest-growing edible oil industries. Its promotion, as well as imports, are further increasing its demand. According to the Economics Times article, “The recent rally in global edible oil prices fueled by Indonesia’s restrictions on palm oil exports and disruptions to sunflower oil shipments from Ukraine has wiped out rice bran oil’s traditional premium over rival oils”. This means that the war situation had triggered the surge in demand for rice bran oil and is expected to sustain in the edible oil market owing to health benefits and easy extraction process.
Nutritional elements in rice bran oil
Rice bran oil is rich in Vitamin K and Vitamin E apart from poly- and mono-unsaturated fats that can enhance blood cholesterol levels and decrease type diabetes and heart problems. Apart from these, a tablespoon of rice bran contains:
Fat: 14 grams
Carbohydrates: 0 grams
Fibre: 0 grams
Sugar: 0 grams
Protein: 0 grams
Rice Bran Oil Extraction Process
Rice bran is one of the most nutritious parts of brown rice and is present in the form of a thin layer in the rice. It is rich in minerals and vitamins. The moisturizing properties of rice bran make it a useful ingredient in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. It is also an ideal carrier oil. Rice bran oil is made from the inner husk and germ present in brown rice. They taste mild and nutty and remain stable when exposed to high or low temperatures.
Step 1: a chemical solvent process or direct pressure is applied to the rice bran to extract the oil. When the amount is small, extensive pressing can be used for oil extraction but in larger quantities, companies use solvent-making techniques. The hot extraction process yields more oil in pure form than cold processing.
Step 2: raw material i.e., rice bran is screened graded and sorted according to its quality. They are heated at a high temperature of more than a hundred degrees Celsius to prevent lipase hydrolysis reaction before oil extraction.
Step 3: the raw or crude rice bran oil is extracted with either mechanical force or with the solvent and stabilized at room temperature. The two by-products of brown rice i.e., crude rice bran oil and rice bran are segregated in this process.
Step 4: this is the step where the edible rice bran oil is obtained through filtration. The rice bran oil is processed to remove the fatty acids. The oil is then bleached, giving it a mild flavour and removed by steam before the final product is packed.
Step 5: the final step is extracting edible oil in which residual free fatty acids or other undesirable flavours are removed from the oil. The oil is fully processed before it is packed in the retail bottle or stored in large containers.
Health benefits of rice bran oil
The smooth functioning of the heart
Rice bran is regarded as a cardiac-friendly oil as it contains the antioxidants healthy for the heart and maintains cholesterol levels. They have indeed acquired the status of ‘heart-healthy-oil’ from experts. According to Times Now News, “Rice bran oil is most effective in promoting heart health. It can help manage cholesterol levels by boosting HDL or the ‘good’ cholesterol levels and lowering the LDL or the ‘bad’ cholesterol levels.” The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommend oil that has an equal proportion of monosaturated fats, saturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats to improve cardiac health as the rice bran oil.
Rice bran oil helps in regulating blood sugar level
Rice bran oil not only helps in managing blood sugar levels by improving insulin resistance but also combats free radical damages. It neutralizes free radicals which may otherwise increase oxidative stress. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry states that rice bran oil consumption can lower blood sugar increase by 30% in type 2 diabetic patients. Moreover, its powerful inflammatory properties can reduce chronic disease risks apart from lowering post-menopausal effects such as hot flashes.
Rice bran oil may prevent cancer-cell development
A group of antioxidants present in rice bran oil called Tocotrienols are considered anti-cancerous. They prevent the formation of cancer cells in the lung, breast, liver, ovary, pancreas and brain. They also reduce the harmful effects of ionizing radiation exposure.
Useful in oral care
Oil pulling is one way that involves swishing oil in the mouth to remove bacteria and enhance dental hygiene. Oil pulling with rice bran oil can help us in killing harmful bacteria in the mouth thereby, preventing cavities, bad breath, inflammation and improving gum care.
Rice bran oil for healthy skin
Since rice bran oil has many antioxidants along with nutritional elements, it supports and improves skin glow. The B complex vitamins like Thiamine or B1, B6, Vitamin B5 and Niacin B3 together soothe skin and prevents harmful skin diseases such as eczema, sunburn and rosacea.
Side effects of rice bran oil
Rice bran oil is a healthier option when taken in moderation due to its health benefits. Excessive usage of rice bran oil, however, can lead to disruptive bowel movements, abdominal discomfort and flatulence because of the high amount of fibre. People with digestive issues such as adhesions and ulcers or intestinal disorders must avoid rice bran oil as the fibre in oil may block the digestive tract. Pregnant and lactating women must avoid rice bran oil completely as it may affect the baby’s health.
Although rice bran oil is more nutritional than other edible oil available on market, you must always consult a health practitioner before consuming it on daily basis. They contain a significant amount of fats and thus should be used in moderation. If your rice bran oil is unrefined, store it in the refrigerator to preserve it in good condition. Most importantly, rice bran oil may lower your blood pressure and hence, people with low blood pressure must consult their doctor before adding this oil to their diet.
What is the difference between rice bran oil and sunflower oil?
Both the oil is great for improving heart health and for managing a good lipid profile. While monosaturated fat content in sunflower oil is 6g, rice bran oil contains 5g in every serving. They both are low in saturated fat as well. Sunflower and rice gran oils can be cooked at higher temperatures and have a mild taste and flavour. Sunflower oil is more suitable for baking, and frying, but not drizzling. Rice bran oil can be suitable for cooking in every kind and for drizzling or salad dressing.
While sunflower oil is high in Vitamin E, rice bran oil contains cancer-preventing elements. Both are cholesterol-free. Rice bran oil is lower in good fats which makes it a good choice for including in its daily eating regimen. Sunflower oil, on the other side, can improve your immune system and take good care of your hair and skin. In short, both the oils differ in many aspects. Hence, you must always compare and contrast based on their health benefits and other aspects before including them in your daily diet.