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Rice bran oil is extracted from rice bran, the outer layer of the rice grain.
It’s commonly used as a cooking oil in many Asian countries, including Japan, India, and China.
As a byproduct of rice milling, rice bran is usually used as animal feed or discarded as waste. Yet, it has recently gained attention for its potential health benefits as an oil.
Here are 9 impressive benefits of rice bran oil.
1. Contains beneficial nutrients
Rice bran oil provides healthy fats and a variety of other nutrients.
One tablespoon (14 ml) packs 120 calories and 14 grams of fat (
Similarly to other nontropical vegetable oils like canola and olive oil, rice bran oil contains higher proportions of heart-healthy unsaturated fat than saturated fat.
Other compounds in rice bran oil, such as tocotrienols, oryzanol, and plant sterols, have been studied for their health benefits (
Rice bran oil is a good source of unsaturated fats, vitamin E, and other important nutrients.
2. May support healthy blood sugar levels
Rice bran oil may support healthy blood sugar levels by improving insulin resistance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes (
Insulin lowers blood sugar by transporting sugar into your cells. Yet, if you develop insulin resistance, your body stops responding to this hormone.
In a test-tube study in mouse cells, rice bran oil reduced insulin resistance by neutralizing free radicals, which are unstable molecules that may lead to oxidative stress (
A human study found similar results. The morning after 19 healthy men ate a single meal containing 3.7 grams of rice bran mixed in oil, their blood sugar levels dropped 15%, compared with those who didn’t eat this ingredient (
Yet, no changes in insulin levels occurred, suggesting that rice bran oil may even support healthy blood sugar levels without affecting insulin (
As such, more research is needed.
Rice bran oil may help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance, though more human studies are necessary.
3. May promote heart health
In fact, the Japanese government recognizes this oil as a health food because of its cholesterol-lowering effects (
Human studies likewise note that this oil reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol (
A review of 11 randomized, controlled trials in 344 people linked rice bran oil intake to significantly lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels — an average drop of 6.91 mg/dL. Just a 1 mg/dL decrease in LDL can reduce heart disease risk by 1–2% (
Eight of the studies involved people with hyperlipidemia, or high concentrations of fat in the blood, while the remaining ones monitored people without this condition.
In a 4-week study in people with hyperlipidemia, following a low-calorie diet with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of rice bran oil per day led to significantly decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as reductions in other heart disease risk factors, such as body weight and hip circumference (
Researchers attributed the improvements in cholesterol levels to the oil’s plant sterols, which prevent your body from absorbing cholesterol.
Rice bran oil may reduce heart disease risk by improving cholesterol levels.
4. Has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
Several compounds in rice bran oil have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
One of these compounds is oryzanol, which has been shown to suppress several enzymes that promote inflammation (
In particular, it may target inflammation in your blood vessels and heart membrane. If untreated, this inflammation can trigger atherosclerosis — the hardening and narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to heart disease (
In a 4-week study, 59 people with hyperlipidemia took either 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of rice bran oil or soybean oil. Compared with soybean oil, rice bran oil significantly increased people’s antioxidant capacity, which may help combat oxidative stress (
Several active compounds in rice bran oil, including oryzanol and tocotrienols, may provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
5. May have anticancer effects
Tocotrienols, a group of antioxidants in rice bran oil, may have anticancer effects.
In one test-tube study, tocotrienols from rice bran oil seemed to protect human and animal cells exposed to ionizing radiation, high levels of which may cause harmful effects like cancer (
Additional test-tube studies reveal that tocotrienols have strong anticancer effects when combined with other anticancer drugs or chemotherapy (
However, it’s controversial to supplement with antioxidants, such as tocotrienols, during chemotherapy. That’s because research is mixed on whether doing so boosts or impairs treatment (
Thus, more studies are necessary. Keep in mind that rice bran oil should not be considered a treatment for cancer.
Test-tube and animal studies suggest that compounds in rice bran oil may safeguard against cancer, but further research is needed.
6–8: Other promising benefits
Rice bran oil has several other emerging benefits.
6. May fight bad breath
Oil pulling is an ancient practice that involves swishing oil around in your mouth like mouthwash to improve oral health.
Researchers speculate that the oil’s rich antioxidant content may be responsible.
7. May enhance immune health
Rice bran oil may improve your immune response, which is your body’s first line of defense against bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing organisms.
For example, a test-tube study in mouse cells revealed that an oryzanol-rich extract from rice bran oil enhanced immune response (
However, it’s unclear whether this effect occurs in humans (
8. May boost skin health
The antioxidants in rice bran oil may support skin health.
In a 28-day study, people experienced improvements in forearm skin thickness, roughness, and elasticity after using a gel and cream containing rice bran extract twice daily (
Despite a lack of research, several moisturizers and other products marketed to those in search of younger-looking skin contain rice bran oil.
Studies indicate that rice bran oil may combat bad breath, enhance your immune system, and promote skin health. Still, more research is necessary.
9. Easy to add to your diet
Rice bran oil is quite versatile.
Unlike olive and canola oils, it’s ideal for frying and baking because its subtle taste won’t overpower a dish. It has a nutty, earthy flavor similar to that of peanut oil.
Its high smoke point means that it’s suitable for high-temperature cooking. Moreover, its beneficial compounds, such as oryzanol and tocotrienols, are well preserved when cooked (
Although few products specify production methods, rice bran oil processed using solvent extraction rather than cold pressing may boast more beneficial compounds (
For a unique twist, you can blend rice bran oil with other oils, such as olive or canola oils (
Rice bran oil is versatile and easy to add to your diet. Its high smoke point and mild flavor make it ideal for stir-fries, soups, dressings, and vinaigrettes.
The bottom line
Rice bran oil is produced from rice bran, the outer layer of a rice kernel.
It’s rising in popularity due to its potential health benefits, such as improved blood sugar control and heart health. What’s more, it offers several antioxidants and may provide anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects.
You can find rice bran oil in your local grocery store or online.