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What is Rice Bran Oil?

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 4 7

What is rice bran oil?

Sometimes called rice bran extract, rice bran oil is exactly what it sounds like - oil extracted from the germ and inner husk of rice kernels.  There is very little bran in rice and only 20% of that is oil, so it requires a ton of rice to get a little oil.  Fortunately the process of milling white rice removes the bran as a byproduct and this excess bran where the oil is extracted from so tons of food are not wasted to make rice bran oil (unlike say corn oil or olive oil where the primary item gained from processing is the oil. 

Rice Grain Anatomy

Qualities of Rice Bran Oil

Oil extracted from rice bran as a number of  is interesting qualities:

  • Very high smoke point of 490 °F (254 °C) making it useful for high-temperature cooking methods such as stir frying and deep-frying.
  • Mild flavor that does not overpower the natural taste of the food it is mixed with
  • Used as a cooking oil in several Asian countries, including Japan and China.
  • When consumed at room temperature or cooler, oil extracted from rice bran is rich in vitamin E, gamma-oryzanol (an antioxidant that is used for many alternative herbal therapies, which may help prevent heart attacks), and phytosterols (compounds believed to help lower cholesterol absorption) 

What is in Rice Bran Oil?

Not commercially produced in the USA until the mid 90's, rice bran oils contain a range of fats, with most of the fats being less harmful types of fats:

  • 47% of its fats monounsaturated, 
  • 33% polyunsaturated, and 
  • 20% saturated

The fatty acid composition of rice bran extracted oil is:

Fatty acidPercentage
Palmitic 15.0%
Stearic 1.9%
Oleic 42.5%
Linoleic 39.1%
Linolenic 1.1%
Arachidic 0.5%
Behenic 0.2%

Suggested Health Benefits to Rice Bran Oil: Cholesterol Reduction

Mohammad Minhajuddin published the results of animal studies in the May 2005 "Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology" that showed a 42-percent decrease in total cholesterol with a 62-percent drop in low-density lipoproteins, or LDL cholesterol, when researchers supplemented test subjects' diets with fractionated vitamin E obtained from rice bran oil.  

M. Most also published results  in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" of a small human study conducted with 26 participants in the January 2005. These test subjects saw a 7-percent 

rice bran oil

decrease in LDL cholesterol with no change in total cholesterol during a 10-week study. using rice bran oil.

Other scientific studies have shown that the antioxidant stability in rice bran oil remains almost constant even when heated at frying temperatures. In some studies, the oxidative stability of rice bran oil was found to be equivalent to or better than soybean, corn canola, cottonseed, and safflower oil in a model system that simulated deep frying conditions.The study of thermal degradation and antioxidant stability in the oil was carried out by heating the oil to the frying temperature up to 250°C for 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2 hours. The density of rice bran oil is found to be constant throughout the time of heating illustrates there is no molecular changes due to antioxidant activity in the oil.

Because rice bran oil is a completely plant based oil is is naturally cholesterol free like all plant based oils.  When used in place of butter, lard or animal shortening it directly reduces cholesterol intake.

Rice bran oil for Menopause

Rice bran oil  was shown, in Japanese research, to be effective in relieving hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. The Japanese researchers polled women suffering from "climactic disturbance" (commonly known as "hot flashes") and found that 90% of the surveyed women found some form of relief after taking a rice bran oil supplement for 4–6 weeks.

Studies show that the rice bran extract in its natural powder form is not easily absorbed by the human body but that when converted to oil absorbtion is much better. 

Nutracutical Benefits

Rice bran oil has been shown to contain useful plant sterols thought to have nutracutical benefits.

Anti-Cancer Properties

Studies have shown that rice bran oil provides anti-cancer benefits to animals.  This suggests that these benefits could also be obtained by humans who consume the oil.

Rice bran is the CORE INGREDIENT in three of the most popular and well-respected, anti-cancer supplements on the alternative health market namely IP-6, AHCC, and MGN3. 

Eliminate Unhealthy Trans-Fats

Some restaurants are switching t o rice bran oil products in deep fryers to eliminate unpopular and unhealthy trans fats.  The neutral flavor of the oil makes this an easy decision.

Rice Bran Oil for Horses and Pets

Product DetailsInterest is building in using oil and rice bran as horse feed or other high-end animal feeds.  This is based on animal trials seeking to understand the potential effect of the oil on humans but of course these trials also demonstrate that animals benefit from the positive properties of rice bran oil.  Bulk bottles of the oil can be be obtained from Amazon or selected pet stores and farm supply houses. 

Rice bran is the only food that contains powerful anti-oxidant Gamma-Oryzanol in meaningful amounts.  Gamma-Oryzanol helps convert fat to muscle, good for fat races horses and fat humans.

In the feed business RBO is used in both the crude and refined states.  As unrefined oil it can be added to feed to control the amount of dust that gets spread around when handing the feed.  It also helps animals digest feed. 

Where to Buy Rice Bran Oil?

Asian themed grocery stores are a good place to look for oil from rice bran, and some mainstream stores will also stock it.  You might also try health food stores.  One popular brand is marketed by The California Rice Oil Company while Trohe is another popular brand to look for.  You can easily buy rice bran oil through Amazon's Grocery & Gourmet Food section and save a lot of driving around while still obtaining a great price. The prices for rice bran oil on Amazon are in line with other premium vegetable based oils in the market. The Amazon site offers a wide brand selection and range of bottle sizes on this still slightly exotic product. 

California Rice Oil Company Oil Rice Bran, 25.4-Ounce Units (Pack of 3)
Amazon Price: $28.80 $25.83 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 15, 2013)


Dec 3, 2011 9:10pm
Yeah... sounds like its worth trying!
Dec 4, 2011 6:20am
Very interesting article, I wasn't familiar with this product at all. As usual, I learn something new everyday on IB. Thanks for sharing.
Dec 4, 2011 8:01am
There are some great benefits to using rice bran oil. Thanks for the great example. I lived in Japan for four years and l used it every now and then.
Dec 4, 2011 11:48am
I grew up a dairy farm and we fed rice bran to our cows. I had heard of rice bran oil, but didn't know it could be used for cooking. I thought it was more of an external health supplement. Sounds like their are quite a few health benefits to be gained by using this oil. Thanks for such an informative article.
Dec 6, 2011 3:15pm
Rice bran oil does come in gel caps. Seems like a silly way to use something you can just cook with though.
Dec 5, 2011 12:37am
i would love to try this! it sounds like a great alternative to less healthy oils and may even get heralded in the near future as the new olive oil in terms of all its benefits!
Mar 8, 2013 11:21am
Yes someone is going to make that marketing push one of these days.
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