Rice Bran Oil: Is It The World’s Best Oil?

Friday Jul 11 | BY |
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Rice Bran Oil

Are demanding chefs really switching to rice bran oil?

Have you ever come across something unexpected, new to you, and too good to be true, but something that has been there all along?

Positive and unexpected natural health discoveries don’t occur often, but one happened to me the other day. I was shopping in my favorite Asian market when I saw a bottle of a beautiful golden-colored oil labeled in Korean. In English, it said, “rice bran oil.”

I asked the owner, a Korean woman about forty years old who was very knowledgeable about all the products she stocked, if she used it in her traditional cooking. Indeed, she did. In fact, she pointed out to me that it was great for stir-fried vegetables and tasted better than olive oil.

Intrigued, I bought a bottle and tried it for sautéing summer squash. Later, I researched this golden oil. This is what I found.

What’s The Buzz About Rice Bran Oil?

On the first Google page just below Wikipedia was a glowing report on Doctoroz.com listing rice bran oil as the “miracle fat to get skinny.” Next was Andrew Weil’s endorsement. And right after that was the California Rice Oil Company claiming that rice bran oil “turns a cook into a gourmet chef.”

Are demanding chefs really switching to rice bran oil?

The reason it’s so good for cooking is that rice bran oil has a very high smoke point of 450 °F. In comparison, the smoke point of olive oil is 360 °F. Also, its light consistency makes it easy to pour and it’s not sticky like other cooking oils. In addition, it has healthy nutritional properties that are not completely destroyed by high heat, and its mild flavor doesn’t interfere with the natural taste of food.

What Is Rice Bran Oil?

Rice bran oil is extracted from the germ and inner husk of brown rice. It has a mild taste, so it’s popular in Asian cuisine where high-temperature wok cooking is commonly used for deep-frying and stir-frying. It’s said to be the secret of a great tempura.

Rice bran oil is mostly monounsaturated compared to other oils. One tablespoon contains 7 grams of monounsaturated fat (about 38-47 %), 3 grams of saturated fat (about 20%), and 5 grams of polyunsaturated fat (33%). In comparison, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil contains 11 grams of monounsaturated fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat.

Fatty Acid Content of Rice Bran Oil

Fatty acid 2

In comparison to other vegetable oils, including olive oil, rice bran oil contains unique components of vitamin E that benefit health.

Health Benefits of Rice Bran Oil

Rice bran oil contains a lot of the phytochemical “gamma oryzanol.” It’s also high in the cancer-fighting compound “vitamin E tocotrienol.” But it’s a superstar when it comes to oryzanol, containing more than 2000 parts per million.

In comparison, other cooking oils have zero oryzanol. Because of its nutritional profile, especially its rich natural antioxidant activity, researchers wanted to learn more about its health benefits.

Several animal studies showed that isolated vitamin fractions in rice bran oil lowered cholesterol. In one of the studies, total cholesterol dropped by 42 percent in lab rats fed a concentrated fraction of vitamin E called “tocotrienol rich fraction (TRF)” that is found in rice bran oil. Also, the rat’s LDL cholesterol levels dropped an astonishing 62 percent. In another study, HDL levels improved.

A study in 2014 confirmed the cholesterol-lowering effect of oryzanol. Researchers also found that rice bran oil helped clear cholesterol and triglycerides from the liver.

Yet another study found that rice bran oil improved the positive effects of intestinal probiotic bacteria. This suggests that besides improving liver metabolic function to help lower cholesterol, it also enhances the metabolism of fats and oils by gut bacteria, which are involved in how the digestive system processes cholesterol.

A 2010 study found that components in rice bran oil help lower inflammation and inhibit pancreatic tumor growth. Chronic inflammation is associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

These results suggest that rice bran oil is liver friendly and may be a good choice of cooking oil for people with fatty liver disease, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

Can you see why rice bran oil is called a “miracle” oil?

Five Reasons To Try Rice Bran Oil

  1. Helps prevent cardiovascular disease
  2. Relieves hot flashes associated with menopause
  3. Helps liver detoxification
  4. Lowers gastrointestinal cancer risk
  5. May help prevent type 2 diabetes

Remember that most studies so far on rice bran oil have been on animals in the laboratory. Positive outcomes in animal studies don’t mean that humans will experience the same benefits.

One concern with rice bran oil is its ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. It’s high in omega-6 (linoleic acid) with little omega-3 (linolenic acid). If you use only this oil, you might push your body towards inflammation because of too much linoleic acid.

To maintain a balanced fatty acid profile, supplement with high omega-3 fish oil, and also consider a balanced blend of omega-3, -6, and -9 oils. Dietary sources of omega-3s include cold-water fish and shellfish. Rich sources of omega-6s and -9s include chia, hemp, and flax seeds.

Perhaps rice bran oil is not a miracle food, but the research looks good enough for me to try it out for a few months. I’m also going to add more wild American rice to my diet. Research shows that wild rice has more diverse oryzanol content than brown rice. And, I’ll keep up with my omega-3, high EFA fish oil supplement, and keep adding chia, flax, and hemp seeds to my protein smoothies. Then I’ll retest my cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels.

Dr. J. E. Williams


Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

Visit Dr. Williams’ Website: https://drjewilliams.com/

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  1. June Hanson says:

    Am going to try rice bran oil. You have been helping me, keep my inflammation and intestinal problems, under control. Do not like higher omega 6’s then omega 3’s. So, I, also will eat more fish, which I like. use ground chia in my cooking. Always have liked wild American rice in with my brown rice. Know, you are right, should eat more wild, rice, that is. Trying, to be good, its hard for me as you know. Will look forward to knowing, how your tests come out for lipids. Know, your getting ready for your trip to Peru. Wish, you would answer my mail today on Hello Health, as I know, I will not be able to reach you there. Sorry, I missed saying good by to you, after medical appointment. Want you to know, I, will miss you, thinking and praying for your safety there, renewing of your spirit and body. Taking some quiet time, for much needed writing, which, I always enjoy. Along with all your other work. which, I hope, you will let your students, do some of it for you.
    Feeling, so great, after your caring therapy yesterday. How, can I ever thank you, for the blessing, you have been to me? One way, is to get some much need rest, quiet time, stay safe, and think positive. Come back, as soon, as it is possible.

  2. Satori says:

    Very interesting. Please come back and write to us when your blood test results came in. Rice bran oil is the only oil that we can make enough amount domestically in Japan. It’s never been popular only because soy bean oil is way cheaper. I think it’s getting more popular now though. I hope people don’t take advantage of the high smoking point and deep frying everything with it. Japanese people love deep fried food just like Americans. Anyways it was a nice article to start my Saturday morning with. Thank you!

  3. Alex says:

    Rice bran contains high arsenic level. How about rice bran oil?

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