Rice Bran OilPosted By | Posted On Dec 16, 2012
The oil extracted from the germ and inner husk of rice, known as rice bran oil, has traditionally been used for cooking in many Asian countries, particularly China and Japan. Unknown here in the States until recently, it is notable for its high smoke point (415°F) and its mild, somewhat nutty flavor, making it excellent for high-temperature stir-frying and even deep fat frying. It is often the oil of choice in Japanese Tempura restaurants. Antioxidant stability remains almost constant when the oil is heated to the high temperatures required in this type of cooking.
With a composition similar to peanut oil, high in “healthy fats” (47% monounsaturated and 33% polyunsaturated), rice bran oil is being studied carefully for its ability to lower cholesterol, and is thought to have a role in preventing certain cancers.
High in two forms of Vitamin E, Japanese studies have shown that consuming rice bran oil may have an effect on slowing growth of certain cancerous cells. There is significant evidence that it reduces total plasma cholesterol and triglycerides and raises HDL the “good” cholesterol. Some studies have attributed it to a drop in LDL, the “bad” cholesterol by as much as 62%.
Recent studies in India and elsewhere suggest that using a combination of rice bran oil and sesame oil may have a profound effect on lowering blood pressure. It has long been thought that sesame oil has a calcium channel blocking effect similar to calcium channel blocking drugs. When sesame oil is combined with rice bran oil in a ratio of one part sesame to 4 parts rice bran, the two together have a pronounced synergistic effect in lowering blood pressure in patients with moderate to high hypertension. People who cooked with this combination, and used calcium channel blocking drugs had even higher drops in their systolic readings.
The Japanese have long believed in using rice bran oil as a treatment for hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. In one study, 90% of women taking a rice bran oil supplement for four to six weeks found significant relief from those symptoms. The oil itself is used as a skin care product by the Japanese, both to whiten the skin and act as a sunscreen. Its use in sunscreens and hair conditioners has been increasing in the United States over the last few years.
American chefs, particularly in the cutting edge restaurants of New York and San Francisco have recently embraced rice bran oil as their oil of choice in dishes where olive oil’s distinct flavor might be inappropriate.
L’Oriva brand Rice bran oil is available at most Whole Foods and some area supermarkets.
written by Jim Becker, Chinatown Guide