Recently we’ve been taking a look at some of the cooking oils available in supermarkets and health food stores. Some of these oils have been pretty well known. However, rice bran oil is one which is relatively new to me, and I actually had an extremely difficult time finding sound information about it.
What is rice bran oil?
Well, it is the oil extracted from the germ and inner husk of the rice. It has a very mild and clean flavour, making it suitable for a range of different dishes. It is notable for its high smoke point of 250°C, and also for its zero trans fat content. In terms of the touted health benefits, it is a source of the antioxidant vitamin E, and contains the plant sterol oryzanol, which is thought to help lower LDL cholesterol levels.
What about the fat content of rice bran oil?
It contains roughly:
- 47% monounsaturated fatty acids
- 33% polyunsaturated fatty acids
- 20% saturated fatty acids
If we take an even closer look at this oil, we find that it has very little omega-3 fatty acids (unlike canola oil), and is reasonably high in omega-6 fatty acids. Why does this matter? Well, olive oil is also low in omega-3s, however it is much higher in monounsaturated fats than rice bran oil – a source of monounsaturated fat should be our first choice, where possible.
That said however, if you do occasionally deep-fry foods, rice bran oil is perhaps one of the best options. The high smoking point means that it can withstand hot cooking temperatures, without degrading as quickly as some other oils on the market.
Would I recommend it’s use?
Well, that depends on what I’m using it for! Olive oil is the superior oil in my opinion, in addition to what I’ve said above, it also has a lower saturated fat content than rice bran oil.
Also, generally speaking our diets are already reasonably high in polyunsaturated fat, while some of these fats are essential to the body, too much is not healthy, and therefore it may be wise to reduce the consumption of any oil, which is higher in polyunsaturated fats (i.e. rice bran oil).
Unfortunately, once again, the answer is not black or white – but it’s somewhere muddled in the middle, and open to personal interpretation.
What are your thoughts? Do you use rice bran oil?