Rice bran is a healthy way to help you lose weight, improve your cholesterol levels and increase the health of your arteries.
It also supplies a vast number of nutrients, phytochemicals and other healthy compounds. And for a supplement it’s fairly cheap.
Sounds like a win-win-win, right?
Elevated “bad” cholesterol (like LDL-c) levels have been shown to increase the risk of artery damage and heart attacks. This is because this type of cholesterol leads to greater oxidative damage to the walls of our blood vessels.
Popular pharmaceutical drugs to lower cholesterol include Crestor® (osuvastatin calcium). Crestor adverse side effects can include confusion, memory problems, unexplained muscle pain, weakness, fevers, swelling, tiredness and weight gain.
Is rice bran also good at reducing cholesterol? Yup. And with no known adverse effects, as it is in fact, a food. Rice bran is taken from the outer layer of rice under the husk. Rice bran is what makes brown rice brown. When you remove it, you get white rice.
Rice bran extract seriously reduces cholesterol and body fat
Research from Vietnam’s National Institute of Nutrition studied rice bran extract in 60 women with high LDL cholesterol. The researchers divided the women into two groups. One group was given 300 milligrams (in 50 mg capsules) of brown rice bran extract for six months. The other 30 women were given a placebo in the form of corn oil in capsules.
The researchers tested the women’s body fat, blood vessel health and cholesterol levels at the beginning of the supplementation, and after two months, four months and at the end (six months) of the treatment.
The researchers found that six months on the rice bran extract significantly reduced triglycerides from an average of 223 mg/dL to 176 mg/dL.
Six months on the rice bran extract also reduced the patient’s LDL-cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein – the “bad cholesterol”) from an average of 164 mg/dL to 135 mg/dL.
The rice bran extract also resulted in a significant increase in blood levels of adiponectin. This means better glucose metabolism and better blood sugar levels. The rice bran extract also reduced TNF-alpha among the patients. This means it helped reduce inflammation related to the blood vessel health.
Speaking of blood vessel health: The rice bran extract also resulted in an increase in flow-mediated dilation (FMD) levels. This means that the blood vessels became more healthy, as they dilated greater, allowing for better circulation. FMD levels averaged 6.6 percent at the beginning of the study and went up to 7.0 percent at the end of six months for those taking the rice bran extract. At the two and four month examinations, FMD levels were up more – to 7.9 and 8.4 percent respectively.
The rice bran extract also resulted in some weight loss and reduced waist circumference levels among the women. Their percentage body fat levels went from an average of 35.2 percent to 31.8 percent. Hip circumference went from an average of 91 centimeters to 87.7 cm.
The above stats mean the rice bran extract significantly improved body fat levels and the health of the blood and blood vessels. The blood vessels became more healthy and less inflamed. This may be related to the reduction in LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. Or it may be due to its generous mix of phytochemicals and nutrients.
One of the minor mysteries of Nature. The only side effects are better health.
Not the first study on rice bran
This isn’t the first study finding that rice bran extract can help reduce body fat and improve the blood and cholesterol levels. It’s not rice bran’s first dance with research evidence.
A 2015 study from a Japanese research institute studied 51 obese Japanese men for three months. They were split into two groups. One group was given a rice bran extract fraction and the other group was given a placebo.
After the 12 weeks, the researchers found the men taking the rice bran extract had significant reductions in their LDL-cholesterol and body fat levels compared to the placebo group.
Their measured abdominal circumference and subcutaneous fat levels also went down considerably.
A 2014 study from the University of Arizona and the Agricultural University of Krakow in Poland studied 24 overweight and obese adults. They had a body mass index of at least 32. The researchers split the adults into two groups and gave one snack bars with rice bran and sterols for 8 weeks. The other group was given placebo bars. Both groups were put on a 25 percent calorie-restricted diet.
The researchers found that both groups lost weight – an average of over 10 pounds (4.7 kilograms). But the rice bran group also had a significant drop in LDL-cholesterol compared to the placebo group. The drop in LDL-c averaged 22 g/dL.
The rice bran group also had significant reductions in systolic blood pressure, leptin levels and F2- isoprostanes compared to the placebo group. Yup. Side effects of better health.
Rice bran oil also has similar properties. A 2016 study that involved the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reviewed the clinical research on rice bran oil. They found 11 randomized controlled clinical studies that tested cholesterol and related levels.
Their research found that rice bran oil consumption reduced LDL-c by an average of 6.91 mg/dL, reduced triglycerides by an average of 12.65 mg/dL, and increased HDL-c levels among men by an average of 6.65 mg/dL. Note that these results are not as great as achieved by the rice bran extract used in the above studies. Rice bran oil doesn’t contain all the components of rice bran. But it’s still pretty darn good.
The researchers stated:
“In conclusion, consumption of rice bran oil can reduce LDL-C and Triglyceride concentrations, which may lead to prevention and control of cardiovascular disease. It also has favorable effects on HDL-C [“good cholesterol”] concentrations in men.”
We discussed a study of sesame and rice bran oil previously.
What makes rice bran so healthy?
The extract used in this study standardized a component called acylated steryl glucosides (PSG). This is one of the active compounds in rice bran. Other healthy constituents of rice bran include:
• Minerals: Significant levels of magnesium, potassium, copper, calcium, iron, zinc, silica, phosphorus, selenium
• Vitamins: Significant levels of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, choline, folate, vitamin E (tocopherol), lutein, zeaxanthin
• Phytochemicals: gamma-oryzanol, phytosterols, tocotrienols, ferulic acid, cycloartanol, cyclotenol, methylene-cycloartenol, campesterol, stigmasterol, sitosterol, sqalene, lecithin (phosphatidyl choline and phosphatidyl serine), lipoic acid, inositol hexaphosphate, coenzyme Q (CoQ10).
• Fatty acids: palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) [omega-3]
• Amino acids (protein building blocks): alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, cystine, dimethylglycine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, trimethylglycine, tryptophan, tyrosine, valine
Nhung BT, Tuyen LD, Linh VA, Anh ND, Nga TT, Thuc VT, Yui K, Ito Y, Nakashima Y, Yamamoto S. Rice Bran Extract Reduces the Risk of Atherosclerosis in Post-Menopausal Vietnamese Women. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2016;62(5):295-302.
Jolfaie NR, Rouhani MH, Surkan PJ, Siassi F, Azadbakht L. Rice Bran Oil Decreases Total and LDL Cholesterol in Humans: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials. Horm Metab Res. 2016 Jul;48(7):417-26. doi: 10.1055/s-0042-105748.
Ito Y, Nakashima Y, Matsuoka S. Rice bran extract containing acylated steryl glucoside fraction decreases elevated blood LDL cholesterol level in obese Japanese men. J Med Invest. 2015;62(1-2):80-4. doi: 10.2152/jmi.62.80.
Hongu N, Kitts DD, Zawistowski J, Dossett CM, Kopeć A, Pope BT, Buchowski MS. Pigmented rice bran and plant sterol combination reduces serum lipids in overweight and obese adults. J Am Coll Nutr. 2014;33(3):231-8. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2013.869772.
Rao BSN. Nutritive Value of Rice Bran. Nutrition Foundation of India
Khalid Gula, Basharat Yousuf, A.K. Singha, Preeti Singhc, Ali Abas Wanid. Rice bran: Nutritional values and its emerging potential for development of functional food—A review. Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre. 2015 6;1 July: 24–30
Faria SA, Bassinello PZ, Penteado MC. Nutritional composition of rice bran submitted to different stabilization procedures. Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2012. 48;4, Oct./Dec.
Shafie NH, Esa NM, Ithnin H, Saad N, Pandurangan AK. Pro-apoptotic effect of rice bran inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) on HT-29 colorectal cancer cells. Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Dec 2;14(12):23545-58. doi: 10.3390/ijms141223545.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.