Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Is Rice Bran Oil Bad For You?



Short answer

Rice bran oil is not bad for most people and has several health benefits due to its balanced fatty acid composition, antioxidants, and a high smoke point. It can help improve cholesterol levels and contribute to overall heart health when used in moderation. However, the refining process can affect nutritional quality, so choosing high-quality, minimally processed rice bran oil is recommended.



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Long answer

Nutritional Profile of Rice Bran Oil

Rice bran oil, often touted for its versatile culinary uses, boasts a unique nutritional composition that sets it apart from other cooking oils. Sourced from the hard outer layer of rice grains, this oil is rich in various nutrients and beneficial compounds. Understanding its nutritional makeup is crucial for evaluating its impact on health. Here’s an in-depth look at rice bran oil's nutritional profile:

1. Fatty Acid Composition:

  • Monounsaturated fats: Rice bran oil contains approximately 38% to 47% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), primarily in the form of oleic acid. Diets high in MUFAs are associated with improved cardiovascular health, as suggested by a study published in the journal Circulation.
  • Polyunsaturated fats: It also has a significant amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), around 33% to 39%. These include omega-6 fatty acids like linoleic acid, which is essential for health, although a balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is key, as indicated by the American Heart Association.
  • Saturated fats: Compared to other vegetable oils, rice bran oil has a moderate level of saturated fats, constituting about 16% to 20% of its total fat content.

2. Unique Components:

  • Tocotrienols and Tocopherols: These forms of Vitamin E are powerful antioxidants. Research in the Journal of Nutrition has linked tocotrienols to possible cholesterol-lowering effects and neuroprotective properties.
  • Oryzanol: Gamma-oryzanol is a component unique to rice bran oil, combining ferulic acid esters and plant sterols. Studies, such as one in the Journal of Scientific & Industrial Research, have shown that gamma-oryzanol may improve plasma lipid profiles and reduce cholesterol.
  • Phytosterols: These are plant compounds that can block cholesterol absorption in the intestines, potentially lowering blood cholesterol levels. Rice bran oil is particularly high in phytosterols compared to other vegetable oils.

3. Vitamin and Mineral Content:

  • While not a significant source of vitamins and minerals, rice bran oil contains small amounts of Vitamin E and K which are essential for various physiological functions.

4. Caloric Content:

  • Rice bran oil is calorie-dense, as with all fats, providing around 120 calories per tablespoon. This is typical for cooking oils and should be taken into account in the context of one’s total calorie intake.

Please note that while the nutritional profile of rice bran oil presents several beneficial qualities, moderation is key, as with any dietary fat. The overall dietary pattern and balance of fats are much more indicative of health outcomes than the inclusion of any single oil, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Moreover, it's important to recognize that the process of refinement and packaging can affect the nutritional quality of rice bran oil. Choosing a high-quality, cold-pressed or minimally processed rice bran oil can ensure that you receive the maximum nutritional benefits from your consumption.

In summary, the nutrient composition of rice bran oil is quite diverse and includes beneficial MUFAs and PUFAs, antioxidants, and other unique compounds such as gamma-oryzanol and phytosterols. When incorporated into a balanced diet, rice bran oil can contribute to the nutritional richness and variety, important for optimal health.

Comparison of Rice Bran Oil with Other Cooking Oils

When exploring the impact of rice bran oil on health, it's essential to compare it with other popular cooking oils. Each oil has a unique composition of fats and nutritional properties that can affect our health in different ways. Below, we provide an analysis comparing rice bran oil with a selection of widely-used cooking oils, focusing on the critical aspects like smoke point, fatty acid profile, and potential health benefits.

  • Smoke Point: Rice bran oil has a high smoke point of approximately 232°C (450°F), making it suitable for high-heat cooking methods such as frying and sautéing. In comparison, extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point at around 190°C (375°F), while coconut oil is roughly 177°C (350°F). High smoke points are favorable as oils can maintain stability under heat, producing fewer harmful compounds.
  • Fatty Acid Profile: Unlike many other cooking oils, rice bran oil has a balanced fatty acid profile, with 25% saturated fats, 38% monounsaturated fats, and 37% polyunsaturated fats. Olive oil, praised for its heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, contains over 73% of these fats, mostly oleic acid. In contrast, coconut oil is predominately saturated fat at about 87%, which can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
  • Antioxidant Content: Rice bran oil stands out for its antioxidant content, including oryzanol and tocotrienols, which may contribute to lowering cholesterol levels. Olive oil is also known for its antioxidants, like vitamin E and polyphenols, contributing to its anti-inflammatory properties. Most other cooking oils lack significant antioxidant compounds compared to these two oils.
  • Nutrient Composition: Beyond its favorable fatty acid composition, rice bran oil contains phytosterols, which are structurally similar to cholesterol and can compete for absorption in the digestive system, potentially reducing cholesterol levels. Other cooking oils, such as canola oil and sunflower oil, also contain phytosterols but in different quantities.
  • Health Impact Studies: Research examining the health impact of cooking oils is ongoing. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that rice bran oil could reduce LDL cholesterol. Meanwhile, the well-known PREDIMED study highlighted the cardiovascular benefits of extra-virgin olive oil. Each oil's effects on health are context-specific and can vary based on individual dietary patterns and overall lifestyle.

The table below summarizes the key comparison points between rice bran oil and other popular cooking oils, allowing for an at-a-glance analysis of their differences and potential advantages in culinary use and health impact.

Oil Type Smoke Point Saturated Fat Monounsaturated Fat Polyunsaturated Fat Notable Compounds
Rice Bran Oil 232°C (450°F) 25% 38% 37% Oryzanol, Tocotrienols, Phytosterols
Olive Oil 190°C (375°F) 14% 73% 11% Vitamin E, Polyphenols
Coconut Oil 177°C (350°F) 87% 6% 2% Lauric Acid
Canola Oil 204°C (400°F) 7% 64% 28% Phytosterols, Omega-3 ALA
Sunflower Oil 227°C (440°F) 10% 20% 66% Vitamin E, Phytosterols

Potential Benefits of Gamma Oryzanol in Rice Bran Oil

Rice bran oil is gaining popularity as a cooking oil, thanks to its balanced fatty acid composition and the presence of unique compounds, one of which is gamma oryzanol. Gamma oryzanol is a substance that has been identified to convey some potential health benefits, making rice bran oil a point of interest for those who are health-conscious. Below are some of the researched potential benefits of gamma oryzanol:

  • Antioxidant Properties: One of the signature benefits of gamma oryzanol is its antioxidant capability. Studies have shown that gamma oryzanol can help fight oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals that can cause cellular damage and contribute to chronic diseases.
  • Cholesterol Regulation: There is evidence to suggest that gamma oryzanol can influence cholesterol levels favorably. It has the potential to lower the bad LDL cholesterol and increase the good HDL cholesterol, thereby supporting heart health.
  • Endocrine Benefits: Gamma oryzanol has been studied for its effects on hormone regulation, particularly its influence on the secretion of endorphins and its ability to modulate adrenal function, which may help in reducing stress and regulating mood.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: The compound has also been noted for its anti-inflammatory properties, which could prove beneficial in managing conditions characterized by inflammation, such as arthritis or inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • Sports Performance Enhancement: There is some anecdotal evidence and preliminary research to suggest that gamma oryzanol might improve strength and muscle mass, making it a point of interest in the sports community.
  • Skin Health: Topically applied, gamma oryzanol has been associated with protecting the skin against UV light damage, potentially reducing the risk of photodamage and aging related to sun exposure.

It is important to note that while studies do show promise, extensive human clinical trials are still needed to firmly establish these benefits. Moreover, the amount of gamma oryzanol present in rice bran oil can vary depending on the brand and the processing method, which could impact the potential health outcomes. Keep in mind that it is the overall diet and lifestyle that contribute to health, and focusing on single components of foods may not provide the complete picture.


- Most, M. M., Tulley, R., Morales, S., & Lefevre, M. (2005). Rice bran oil, not fiber, lowers cholesterol in humans. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(1), 64-68.

- Cicero, A. F. G., & Gaddi, A. (2001). Rice bran oil and gamma-oryzanol in the treatment of hyperlipoproteinemias and other conditions. Phytotherapy Research, 15(4), 277-289.

- Rong, N., Ausman, L. M., & Nicolosi, R. J. (1997). Oryzanol decreases cholesterol absorption and aortic fatty streaks in hamsters. Lipids, 32(3), 303-309.

- Xu, Z., & Hua, N. (2001). Effects of gamma oryzanol supplementation on anthropometric measurements & muscular strength in healthy males following chronic resistance training. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 41(2), 57.

- Koba, K., & Suzuki, T. (2019). Rice Bran and Rice Bran Oil. Elsevier's Lipid Technology and Applications.

Understanding the Smoke Point of Rice Bran Oil

When it comes to choosing a cooking oil, the smoke point is a critical factor. The smoke point is the temperature at which an oil starts to degrade, producing smoke along with potentially harmful compounds. Rice Bran Oil boasts a high smoke point, ranging from 415°F to 450°F (213°C to 232°C), which places it among the more stable oils for high-heat cooking methods such as stir-frying, deep-frying, and baking.

Why does this matter for your health? Oils that are heated beyond their smoke points not only impart a burnt flavor to foods but also give rise to oxidized fatty acids and free radicals. These can be detrimental to health when consumed over time, potentially contributing to inflammation and various chronic diseases. The high smoke point of Rice Bran Oil means it is less likely to reach that critical temperature during most cooking processes, reducing the risk of these harmful substances forming.

However, it's not just about stability at high temperatures. The composition of Rice Bran Oil, which consists of 38% monounsaturated, 37% polyunsaturated, and 25% saturated fatty acids, also impacts its thermal resistance and nutritional properties when heated. For comparison, let's look at a table illustrating the smoke points of common cooking oils:

Oil Type Smoke Point
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 320-410°F (160-210°C)
Coconut Oil 350°F (177°C)
Canola Oil 400°F (204°C)
Rice Bran Oil 415-450°F (213-232°C)
Peanut Oil 450°F (232°C)
Safflower Oil 450-510°F (232-266°C)

The high smoke point of Rice Bran Oil relative to several other oils makes it versatile for various cooking styles, which can have positive dietary implications. As a nutritionist, it's crucial to recommend oils that align with an individual's cooking habits to ensure both the safety and the nutritional quality of their meals.

It's imperative to note that the refinement process can affect the smoke point of oils. Refined oils typically have higher smoke points than unrefined oils due to the removal of impurities that can cause quicker breakdown and smoking. Most commercially available Rice Bran Oils are refined, but it's always a good practice to check the label before purchasing.

In conclusion, when choosing an oil based on its smoke point, Rice Bran Oil is an excellent option for those who frequently engage in high-temperature cooking. This property, alongside its balanced fatty acid profile, makes it a fitting choice for both culinary versatility and maintaining a health-conscious diet.

Rice Bran Oil and Allergen Sensitivity Concerns

When we consider any food product, especially oils that are a derivative of a common allergen, it's essential to understand the potential implications for allergen sensitivity. Rice, from which rice bran oil is extracted, is generally known for being hypoallergenic. This means it's among the least likely foods to cause an allergic reaction - making rice bran oil a potentially safe option for many individuals with food sensitivities. However, thorough comprehension of its allergen sensitivity concerns is crucial for informed dietary choices.

To dive deeper into potential allergen concerns surrounding rice bran oil, we need to look at the production process. Rice bran oil is extracted from the hard outer brown layer of rice, which includes the chaff (rice husk) and germ. Although proteins, which are the usual suspects for triggering allergic reactions, are found in this layer, the refining process strives to eliminate these proteins, thus significantly reducing the risk of allergic reactions. Nevertheless, for individuals with severe allergies, particularly to rice or grains in general, it is important to approach any new food or oil with caution.

Recent studies have shown that allergenic proteins can sometimes remain in refined oils, although at very reduced levels. The exact content and risk can vary depending on the refinement process. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology published a study indicating that refined oils can retain minute amounts of allergenic proteins, which might trigger reactions in some highly sensitive individuals.

Listed below are some considerations for those with allergen sensitivities contemplating the inclusion of rice bran oil in their diet:

  • Consultation with an Allergist: Before integrating rice bran oil into your diet, it’s advised to consult with an allergist, especially if you have a history of grain or rice allergies.
  • Patch Tests: Allergists may perform skin patch tests to determine reactivity to rice bran oil.
  • Processed Foods Vigilance: Many processed foods utilize rice bran oil. Always check labels and be aware of potential cross-contaminant risks.
  • Quality of Oil: Choose refined rice bran oil from reputable manufacturers who follow stringent processing methods to ensure minimal allergenic protein presence.

Favorably, for the majority of people, rice bran oil is a non-issue when it comes to allergen sensitivities. However, for those with severe allergies, it remains important to exercise caution and make well-informed decisions based on individual health profiles and under medical guidance.

It's worth noting that individuals who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity typically do not need to worry about rice bran oil. Rice is naturally gluten-free, and rice bran oil should not contain any gluten. However, as with all food sensitivities, it's vital to be aware of the potential for cross-contamination during manufacturing, which could introduce gluten into the oil from other sources. Always look for products that are certified gluten-free if this is a concern.

In conclusion, while rice bran oil poses minimal risk in terms of allergen sensitivity, it's not entirely exempt from concern for those with known allergies to rice or related grains. Thorough vetting of the product and an individual's health assessment are imperative steps to ensure a safe dietary choice for those with specific allergen sensitivities.

The Controversy Over Chemical Solvents in Rice Bran Oil Production

Rice bran oil, praised for its high smoke point and subtle flavor, has been touted for its potential health benefits, which include being rich in antioxidants and having a balanced fatty acid composition. However, the method of extracting rice bran oil often stirs up debate among health enthusiasts and experts. A core issue lies in the use of chemical solvents during the extraction process, which may have implications for consumer health.

Most rice bran oil is produced using a solvent extraction method. This involves using chemicals, typically hexane, to efficiently extract the oil from the rice bran. Hexane is a popular choice in the industry due to its effectiveness in yielding high oil quantities, but its use has sparked concern over possible health risks.

Studies have indicated that hexane can have neurotoxic effects. For example, chronic exposure to hexane has been linked to neurological conditions in industrial settings, although these levels of exposure are significantly higher than what the general public would encounter through food consumption. Nevertheless, this has led to a discussion about the presence of residual solvents in the oil and their potential impact on health.

  • Residual Solvents: The FDA sets limits on the amount of residual solvents permissible in food products, including oils. The concern is whether the refined oil retains traces of hexane, and if so, how much. Manufacturers are required to refine the oil to reduce hexane residues to levels deemed safe by regulatory standards.
  • Risk Assessment: Despite the refining process, the question remains as to whether the minute amounts of residual solvents pose a long-term risk. Some health professionals argue that even low-level exposure, over time, could accumulate and potentially cause harm.
  • Alternative Methods: Critics of solvent extraction advocate for alternative methods such as cold-pressing or expeller pressing, which do not involve chemical solvents. These methods are generally considered to be more natural and may alleviate concerns associated with chemical residues, although they also have lower oil yields.

Current scientific literature is still examining the extent to which solvent extraction affects the final product's safety. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry analyzed different rice bran oil samples and found negligible hexane residues, below harmful levels. However, the absence of universal testing standards means that variations could exist between different oils on the market.

It is essential for consumers to have access to transparent information regarding how their food is processed. This could include details of the extraction method used and any measures taken to ensure that residual chemicals are minimized or eliminated. Consumers can also seek out brands that explicitly state their use of chemical-free extraction methods to allay any concerns regarding solvent use.

When considering rice bran oil within your diet, it is crucial to take a balanced perspective. While some experts assure the minimal health risks posed by residual solvents, others call for a precautionary approach, promoting solvent-free extraction as a safer alternative. As with many dietary choices, understanding the production process and potential risks allows for informed decision-making aligned with personal health priorities and values.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, rice bran oil can be considered a heart-healthy cooking oil due to its rich content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have been shown to improve cardiovascular health. Additionally, components like tocotrienols, gamma-oryzanol, and phytosterols may positively influence plasma lipid profiles and reduce cholesterol absorption.

The refining process of rice bran oil aims to eliminate allergenic proteins, significantly reducing the risk of allergic reactions. However, for individuals with severe rice or grain allergies, it's advised to consult with an allergist and conduct appropriate tests, as trace amounts could remain in the oil.

Rice bran oil's high smoke point of 232°C (450°F) makes it a stable choice for high-heat cooking methods like frying and sautéing, reducing the likelihood of oil breakdown and formation of harmful compounds that can occur when oils are heated beyond their smoke points.

Yes, rice bran oil is a suitable option for individuals with gluten allergies or celiac disease, as rice is naturally gluten-free. However, it's important to look for certified gluten-free products to avoid cross-contamination risks during manufacturing.

Ask a question about Rice Bran Oil and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Ingredients to be aware of

  • potential residual solvents like hexane


  • improved cardiovascular health
  • cholesterol-lowering
  • neuroprotective properties
  • reduced cholesterol absorption
  • lowered ldl cholesterol
  • high smoke point
  • antioxidant properties
  • hormone regulation
  • anti-inflammatory effects
  • enhanced sports performance
  • skin protection against uv light

Healthier alternatives

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Organic Coconut Oil

  • Rich in nutrients
  • Cold-pressed & unrefined
  • Ideal for baking
  • Enhances sautéed veggies
  • Organic certified
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-11-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-11-2024

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