Good cooking oil doesn't just add life to the most common of foods, but also plays a pivotal role in your health. It could affect your cholesterol levels, alter your metabolic syndrome and if you're using the right kind of oil, also reduce inflammation. This makes it all the more important to pick the right one.
In the last few years, ghee (clarified butter) and refined oil have earned a bad reputation due to the cholesterol and heart disease scare. For such health reasons, people have become more open to experiment with new types of oil. On such variety that has slowly been creeping up on health charts is Rice Bran Oil.
According to Dr. Ritika Samaddar, Chief Dietician at Max Healthcare, “Rice bran oil is a relatively new entrant in the category of cooking oils and perhaps the healthiest. This is for a number of reasons: for one, it’s got an ideal balance of PUFA which is polyunsaturated fats and MUFA which is monounsaturated fats. To be precise, rice bran oil has 37 percent PUFA and 45 percent MUFA, almost a 1:1 ratio. Your usual cooking oils are all rich in polyunsaturated fats and are now looking to create an ideal balance of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. In fact Saffola has recently launched a new product which claims to contain a unique balance of PUFA and MUFA making it healthier than the rest.”
She added, “Rice bran oil is made from bran which makes it rich in Vitamin E that is essentially an antioxidant. What’s also interesting is that rice bran oil is relatively cheap and more of it can be produced right here in India.”
Different oils have different compositions of fats and they behave differently when heated. So before you hop onto the bandwagon, it is very important to know your oil.
1. The outer layer of the rice grain is called bran and the oil is extracted from this brown husk. It has a mild flavour and is neutral in taste. The taste does not clash with Indian food and you can even use it in cookies and cakes. It may lend a mild nutty flavor. It can be used for sautéing, grilling, marinades and is great in salad dressings. It’s light and quite versatile.
2. The National Institute of Nutrition and The Indian Council of Medical Research recommend oils that have an equal proportion of saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Rice bran oil has an almost balanced fatty acid composition that is close to this ratio. Rice bran oil is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and free of trans-fats.
3. It is known as the heart-friendly oil. “Rice bran might help lower cholesterol because it contains the right amount of oryzanol which is an antioxidant. It helps decrease cholesterol absorption and increase cholesterol elimination,” says Gargi Sharma, Nutritionist & Weight-Management Expert. Indians are genetically prone to heart disease and therefore one should to take precautions to have a healthy heart.
4. The American Heart Association and The World Health Organization (WHO) recommend rice bran oil as the best choice for improving serum cholesterol levels.
5. Rice bran oil has a high smoke-point, which is pitched at 254°C or 490°F, which makes it perfect for stir frying or deep frying. It can maintain its nutritive quality even at high temperatures. Also, it has been seen that food cooked at high temperatures absorbs less oil.
6. Rice bran oil is less viscous which means that it does not stick to food. It absorbs less oil which is why you also need to be careful of the quantity you use. In fact, it tends to feel less oily on the tongue.
7. “It is rich in Vitamin E which is powerful antioxidant and has antimutagenic properties which prevent from cancer. Vitamin E also helps in boosting your immunity,” says Gargi.
8. “It contains high levels of natural antioxidants which boost your metabolic rate and may help with weight loss,” adds Gargi. The high level of antioxidants not only makes this oil healthy but also makes it resist rancidity and spoilage. It has a long shelf life.
9. Squalene is a compound present in Rice Bran Oil which is easily absorbed by the skin and keeps it soft, supple and smooth.
10. It is an anti-inflammatory and some studies have shown that its consumption can reduce the effects of menopause like hot flashes.