What is Rice Bran?
Rice bran is the hard outer part of the grain that consists of ‘aleurone’, a form of protein found in the protein granules of maturing seeds, as well as ‘pericarp’, the outer and edible layer of the rice kernel. Apart from these two, it also contains germs and endosperm of the rice kernel. Rice bran is obtained as a by-product during the rice milling process and the outer layers or parts are removed at the time of whitening or polishing of the husked rice. It composes of many nutritious substances like protein, fat, fiber, various anti-oxidants, etc. that have a beneficial effect on human health. Because of its multi-nutritional properties, rice bran is being consumed by humans for thousands of year
Composition of Rice Bran
A major rice bran fraction contains about 13% oil and 44.3% of highly unsaponifiable components. This fraction also contains gamma-oryzanol, beta-sitosterol and tocotrienol that help in lowering the levels of plasma contained in the lipid profile. It also contains a major amount of dietary fibers like beta glucan, gum and pectin. The oil present in the rice bran is a rich source of Vitamin E, Vitamin B, minerals and other essential acids.
Stabilized Rice Bran
Before consuming rice bran, it is important to stabilize it by means of heating or baking, and later by drying the bran before it is termed ready to be consumed by the humans. The reason for the stabilization of rice bran is something that should be noted carefully. In a simple milling process of rice, an enzyme known as ‘lipase’ is formed in the bran layer, that comes in close contact with the bran’s oil. This leads to a rapid destruction of the bran, immediately after the bran is removed from the kernel. Thus, it leads to the destruction of the proteins and nutrients present in the bran, rendering zero utility for consumption.
Uses of Rice Bran
Rice bran serves many important usages for both humans & animals as well for commercial purposes. The following are the various uses of rice bran:
- For Enriching Food: Rice bran is used to enrich breads, cereals, etc. which help in increasing the intake dietary fibers
- As a Source of Edible Oil: Rice bran is a rich source of edible oil. While raw rice bran contains 12-18% oil, parboiled rice bran contains 20-28% oil. Rice bran oil absorbs only 25% of oil as compared to other forms of oil
- For Making Soaps: The presence of High Free Fatty (FFA) makes it suitable for the manufacture of soaps
- For Making Protective Coatings: The rice bran oil is also used to prepare paints, varnishes, enamels, etc.
- As Animal Feed: Rice bran contains a high amount of protein and other nutritious components, thereby making it an excellent source for animal feed. It is particularly given to horses to increase their weight. It is also given the aging dogs as an energy supplements.
Medical Benefits of Using Rice Bran
Rice bran contains many important nutrients that are essential for the body. Following are the various health benefits associated with the use of rice bran:
- It helps in reducing the level of cholesterol, thereby reducing the risks of heart attacks in human beings
- The presence of dietary fibers and whole grains helps in preventing the occurrence of Type II diabetes
- Rice bran also helps in reducing high blood pressure as well as intestinal cancer.
Stabilization of Rice Bran
Since rice bran develops a bad taste soon after the milling process because of the presence of lipase, an enzyme, in the bran layer, it becomes essential to stabilize the bran to avoid it to become rancid. A simple method of stabilizing rice bran is by making use of dry heat extruder to reach a temperature of 270 F for a short period of time. It is this temperature that helps in deactivating the enzymes. The entire process is very simple and when done in a proper manner, it prevents the deterioration of bran, thereby making it much more healthy and safe to consume.
Facts Associated with Rice Bran
Following are some interesting facts that explain the popularity of rice bran and its long term usage by many people across the globe:
- The rice bran and rice germ consist of a mere 8% of the entire kernel, yet they collectively make 65% of the kernel’s nutrients
- Rice bran contains a wide range of protein, vitamins, minerals and more than 120 known naturally occurring antioxidants
- Around 5 to 8 kg of rice bran can be produced from a 100 kg of rice paddy
- The powder obtained from rice bran serves as an excellent source of exfoliation of skin. It prevents wrinkles, absorbs the dirt and pores from the skin and many other similar uses.