Oils 101 – Defendant #1: Rice Bran Oil!

If there is anything more confusing than how to eat Paleo (i’m not Paleo, but I am Paleo-ISH!), it has to be what constitutes as ‘good’, edible Oil, versus those that are ‘bad’, edible oils. So in an effort to shed light on this, I’m going down the scientific study paper route of getting rid of the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) around what edible oils you should have more of, and those you should avoid, one oil at a time!

Here’s my disclaimer: One size does not fit all! This is the Core Health Dynamics over-riding principle for all things health, fitness, and nutrition. Some people may tolerate these oils better than others due to genetics, environmental factors, and their current health status. So we will try to bring an even argument to each oil in question, then go with the majority of the evidence as to whether it’s good or bad!

Without further ado: Rice Bran Oil!

Matt Gajdos from the WordPress Blog ‘Mr G Kids‘ took me up on my offer of wanting more information on a particular health and fitness Post, requesting the following:

“Can you do a post about the truth about rice bran oil?”

When I asked Matt why such a specific subject, it turns out his Dad is espousing the virtues to Matt of Rice Bran oil, and to be honest, I think Matt wants to shut him up!:)

So Matt, this one’s for you!

What is Rice Bran Oil?

It is the ‘germ’, or inner husk of a grain of rice that makes the oil, and the outer husk that makes the Bran.Put them together, and you have Rice Bran Oil. So far so good!

How is it manufactured?

But here’s where it all goes bad.The Oil is extracted using chemicals (solvents), the residue of which ends up in the finished product. Ultra high heat is also used, which means that many potential nutrients would be neutralised. To quote from Patent US2727914-A ‘Rice Bran Oil Extraction Process:

“…rice bran solvent extraction process in which the rice bran which has been so heat-treated and crisped is counter currently contacted with substantially separate portions of solvents while it is supported on the bed of a continuous filter, and the residual solids removed from each portion of solvent by filtration.”

This process yields 18% oil from the bran itself.[1]

What’s good about Rice Bran Oil?

It has a very high smoke point, meaning it can be used for frying without it turning carcinogenic. Most oils have a lower smoke point, particularly the really good oils like Olive Oil. If Rice Bran Oil is cold pressed, it should be ok to cook with. It also appears to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), and enhance HDL (good cholesterol). Which is why I am guessing that Matt’s Dad is a fan, he most probably was told by his GP/MD to reduce his nutritional intake of bad cholesterol raising foods and condiments.

Without going into detail, the whole good/HDL versus bad/LDL cholesterol information which we’ve taken as gospel for decades, is now also being challenged. This is a whole separate Post though, so let’s stay on track.

What’s bad about Rice Bran Oil?

The oil itself is fine. It’s how they extract the oil that makes this not just bad, but potential cancer bad!

Most Rice Brain Oil IS NOT Cold Pressed. Cold Pressed is basically using means to extract the oil without chemicals and ultra high heat treatment, both of which not only damage the finished product, but also make it potentially carcinogenic.

Chemical extraction to product Rice Bran Oil is particularly malevolent, most notably due to  Polycyclic Biphenol (PCB), Polychlorinated Dibenzozofurans (PCDF), and Polychlorinated-p-dioxines (PCDD) as the chemicals (solvents) of choice. All of these are known Endocrine Disruptors. Your Endocrine system basically regulates every metabolic process in your body. You don’t want it disrupted!

As for the effects of these chemicals on the finished product, the following is an extract from Japanese study titled ‘Carcinogens;Binding effect of environmental carcinogens on rice bran fiber examined’:

The researchers concluded, “It was suggested, therefore, that mutagens and carcinogens were available for the fecal excretion of residual chemicals and their metabolites, and also for the fecal excretion of PCBs, PCDFs and related compound residues in patients of Yusho disease, who suffered food poisoning due to rice oil contaminated with PCB in Japan.” [2] (2012), H.Tokiwa

So interpreting the above, chemical residue was found in the poop of the subjects who consumed Rice Bran! How much of this was taken up by the body before being excreted?

Rice Bran Oil is also an Omega-6, or Linoleic Acid. An over consumption of this is strongly linked to diabetes, cancer, stroke and heart disease. About 1/3 is Oleic Acid, similar in reputed benefits to Linoleic Acid, but has also strong links to Breast Cancer[3] and therefore inflammation.

The Verdict: Rice Bran Oil, you are found GUILTY of perverting the cause of good health! 

This oil is like the kid who grew up in a good home, with a good family, in a good neighbourhood, but then went bad due to outside influences! Due to the chemicals used to produce the finished product, Rice Bran Oil would retain lots of undesirable elements that could really have a longer term negative impact on your health by promoting inflammation, and introducing carcinogens to the body.

The only caveat here is that if you can find Cold Pressed Rice Bran Oil, and don’t use it for every meal you fry with, you should be OK. Keep in mind that Butter, Ghee, and Coconut Oil are healthier alternatives.


Sources and Notes:

  • US Patent US2727914 A, Dec 20, 1955
  • [2]Carcinogens;Binding effect of environmental carcinogens on rice bran fiber examined’:H. Tokiwa, Kyushu Women’s University, Laboratory Environmental Hlth, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka 8078586, Japan. (Apr 9, 2005): 1471.
  • [3]Pala, V.; Krogh, V.; Muti, P.; Chajes, V.; Riboli, E.; Micheli, A.; Saadatian, M.; Sieri, S.; Berrino, F. (2001). “Erythrocyte Membrane Fatty Acids and Subsequent Breast Cancer: A Prospective Italian Study”. JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute 93 (14): 1088–95
  • Proquest.com, 18/08/2014.

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