Is rice bran oil good for cooking? Read about its high smoke point

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 4, 2020

Rice bran oil is widely known as a ‘healthy oil’ in many Asian countries, especially in India and Japan. Bran is the outer layer of the rice grain used when the oil is extracted.

Rice bran is a byproduct of rice milling and processing and is often discarded as waste or used as animal feed.

Recently, it has sparked attention due to its potential to produce health-friendly oil.

Is rice bran oil good for cooking

And we can use more of the rice so there’s less waste.

Whether you want to enjoy a little nutty flavor in your food or need something mild-flavored, whether you prefer doing a lot of stir-frying while cooking or eat a lot of salads.

Whatever the case, there is an oil that’s just right for you – and that’s rice bran oil:

However, rice bran oil is still pretty new to many and people just don’t know much about it, yet. Especially in western countries like America there’s a lack of knowledge about the product.

Is it really healthy? Does it make your food taste good? What makes it different from other cooking oils? Well, there are plenty of questions that need to be answered.

That’s the reason why I have created this post that will work as a guide to help you understand everything about rice bran oil.

Let’s jump right into it.

What is Rice Bran Oil?

Rice bran oil is probably the largest underutilized agricultural commodity. Its extraction and processing are similar to other vegetable oils.

It is primarily added to food production for increasing the oxidative stability of the food while improving the nutritional value of the food at the same time.

India, Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand are the largest producers of rice bran oil.

Rice bran oil contains major fatty acids like palmitic acid, linoleic acid, and olenic acid in high quantities – typically 20%, 32%, and 42%, respectively.

The oil incorporates a balanced fatty acid composition along with high levels of functional ingredients like tocotrienols, tocopherols, phytosterols, oryzanol, and other nutrients.

Research has shown that consuming rice bran oil has numerous health benefits, such as:

Experiments have shown that rice bran oil has positive effects on insomnia, hyperglycemia, hypertension, and modulation of cholesterol, among other chronic diseases.

You’re using rice bran oil right now

Due to the unique attributes of rice bran oil, it has become very useful in a wide range of applications, including food, cosmetics, pharmaceutics, and other industries.

It’s in a lot of things you’re using right now most probably!

Due to rice bran oil’s balanced fatty acid profile, it is one of the most nutritious edible oils available.

However, rice bran oil, like other vegetable oils, is susceptible to oxidation during cooking, storage, or processing, leading to the formation of secondary and primary oxidation compounds, polar compounds, free fatty acids, and other hazardous compounds.

Differences between Rice Bran Oil, Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil and Soybean Oil

The following tables depicts the primary differences between these oils based on their attributes:

Rice bran oil

Benefits:

Olive oil

Benefits:

Sunflower oil

Benefits:

Soybean oil

Benefits:

I’ve even written this entire article about all of the benefits of soy bean oil here, because it’s also used in Asian cuisine so much. Read about soy bean oil as well when you’re done reading about rice bran oil.

Is Rice Bran Oil Bad for You?

Rice bran oil is popular in Asian cuisine due to its suitability for high-heat cooking methods like stir-frying and deep-frying.

It also contains components of essential E vitamin that may benefit your health. During a study conducted by the University of Rochester, it was found that the isolated vitamin portions in rice bran oil could be useful for controlling high cholesterol.

On the other hand, since rice bran oil is high in tocotrienol rich fraction (TRF), it can boost the activity of liver enzymes that helps in clearing toxic substances from the liver and thus, ultimately stabilizing or reducing liver tumors.

According to experts, prolonged use of tocotrienol might help reduce overall cancer risk. Moreover, its higher smoke point makes it more suitable for high heat cooking.

While you won’t benefit from any minerals in the oil, there are some essential vitamins in rice bran oil.

Overall, rice bran oil is great for those who are suffering from high cholesterol problems.

What are the Side Effects of Rice Bran Oil?

Rice bran oil is ‘safe’ for most people when consumed through the mouth. However, according to health experts, increasing rice bran oil intake in the diet can lead to:

Overall, it may affect a person’s digestive system. However, this happens only during the first few weeks of usage.

This is because your body is adjusting to the components of rice bran.

When applied directly onto the skin or hair, rice bran oil is beneficial in many aspects.

However, it can cause skin redness and itching. Some people have experienced side effects when adding the component to their baths when treating dermatitis.

While rice bran oil is beneficial in lowering the amounts of blood calcium level in the body that helps in the prevention of kidney stones, this makes it dangerous for patients suffering from conditions like osteoporosis and hypocalcemia.

Hypocalcemia is a type of calcium deficiency and you must not take rice bran oil if you are already calcium deficit.

In addition to that, people suffering from conditions that cause difficulty in digestion or swallowing like intestinal ulcers or anemia, may find their conditions aggravated by rice bran oil.

If you’re looking for additional healthy Japanese ingredients, then take a look at my article on different types of mushrooms and their recipes.

Really great recipes, and also a very healthy meat alternative.

Is rice bran oil good for Deep Frying?

When you are cooking at high heat – deep frying, searing, or stir frying, it is critical that you use an oil with a high smoke point that has a clean, neutral taste. This is why rice bran oil is so popular in kitchens across the globe.

The oil lets the flavor of your food come out even after deep frying. This property of rice bran oil makes it the go-to oil for high heat cooking.

Although rice bran oil can be used for other cooking applications as well like seasoning and drizzling, it is particularly appropriate for high temperature cooking. I use rice bran oil for sautéing and stir frying.

I have seen its smoke point listed from 232°C or 450°F and over. This makes it possibly better than, or comparable to, other vegetable oils like canola and peanut oil. Rice ban oil doesn’t overpower the food since its texture and flavor are clean and light.

Rice bran oil is low in saturated fat and high in antioxidant properties. There are plenty of health claims being made about the product and studies have stated that it can help with lowering the cholesterol and reducing the risks of heart attacks.

Get your quick start in enjoying Japanese cuisine here with our top recommended tools

You can easily find rice bran oil in most Asian markets, online on Amazon, as well as in health food stores.

Overall, I would recommend rice bran oil if you are deep frying.

Which Brand Rice Bran Oil is Best?

There are plenty of brands that offer rice bran oil to consumers. However, some of them are not of the quality you are looking for.

It is important that always go with the highest-quality manufacturer even if you have to pay a little extra. Since you will be consuming the oil, you should always go with the best brand.

While most of the brands and manufacturers advertise their products as the best in the market, you need to really check the nutritional value provided on the back of the package to determine which one’s good for you.

If you live in the US, you can visit any of the Asian markets to buy rice bran oil.

However, I would recommend that you buy the product off of Amazon as it allows you to get the best brand based on the customer reviews and number of ratings.

In my opinion, there are two best brands when it comes to manufacturing rice bran oil.

They are Bon Vital and Tophe.

I use rice bran oil from Tophe, but Bon Vital is also an established brand when it comes to producing cooking oil and other edibles.

If you have never purchased rice bran oil before, I would recommend that you go with either of those brands.

Here’s my review of the top brand that manufactures in the USA:

Tophé all natural non-GMO rice bran oil

Tophé all natural non-GMO rice bran oil

(view more images)

The rice bran oil from Tophe is a preferred choice for most cooks and people who love high-heat frying.

It is 100% GMO-free (genetically modified organism) and high in antioxidant called oryzanol that has been known to lower cholesterol.

The oil has a high smoke point of 254°C, which makes it ideal for high-temperature cooking like deep frying, stirring, and sautéing.

The rice bran oil from Tophe is rich in vitamin E and can be applied to skin and hair as well.

Check the latest prices and availability here on Amazon

What to Look for When Buying Rice Bran Oil

There are plenty of factors that you need to consider when buying rice bran oil for cooking or for skincare. But the two main factors include:

Smoke point

The smoke point of the cooking oil is the temperature at which the oil stops boiling and starts to produce smoke.

While rice bran oil naturally has a high smoke point, some manufacturers may add adulterants to increase the level. The ideal temperate is between 230°C and 250°C.

Get your quick start in enjoying Japanese cuisine here with our top recommended tools

Stability

The best rice bran oil remains stable even after cooked under high temperatures. Thus, you need to determine its stability, that is; its resistance to oxidation.

If you’re looking for awesome authentic Japanese flavors you should read about this furikake mix as well. You can add that to your dishes for great and salty umami flavor and add a bit of crunch at the same time.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.