|Health Benefits of Rice Bran - A Review
|Nagendra Prasad MN*, Sanjay KR, Shravya Khatokar M, Vismaya MN and Nanjunda Swamy S
|Department of Biotechnology, Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering, Mysore-570006, INDIA
||Dr. Dr. M N Nagendra Prasad
Department of Biotechnology
Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering
Mysore- 570006, INDIA
|Received June 27, 2011; Accepted August 26, 2011; Published September 22,
|Citation: Nagendra Prasad MN, Sanjay KR, Shravya Khatokar M, Vismaya MN,
Nanjunda Swamy S (2011) Health Benefits of Rice Bran - A Review. J Nutr Food
Sci 1:108. doi:10.4172/2155-9600.1000108
|Copyright: © 2011 Nagendra Prasad MN, et al. This is an open-access article
distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which
permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided
the original author and source are credited.
|Rice bran along with the germ is an inherent part of whole grain which consists of phytonutrients like oryzanols,
tocopherols, tocotrienols, phytosterols and importantly dietary fibers. The complete exploitation of its potential has
not been realized due to problems associated with rancidity. However, owing to numerous stabilization procedures,
it has been possible to derive an array of health-promoting value-added products. The applications span over a
wide range starting from cholesterol reduction, combating cancer, alleviating menopausal and postmenopausal
symptoms, masking the signs of ageing to production of PHA substitutes and treating water from agricultural run-off.
The most commonly used form is its oil that has exceptional properties which makes it unparalleled when compared
with other vegetable oils. This article gives a bird’s eye view of rice bran and its distinct properties.
|Rice bran; rice bran oil; gamma oryzanol; phytosterols;
|Rice is the most important cereal product in Asia and is an
overwhelming staple food in most populations of this region [1,2]. It is
grown in more than 100 countries and there are around 18,000 varieties
accounting for about 25% of the world’s food grain production . The
prominent rice producing continents are Asia, Africa and America .
Milling of paddy yields 70% of rice (endosperm) as the major product
and by - products consisting of 20% rice husk, 8% rice bran and 2% rice
|The brownish portion of rice which is taken out in fine grain form
during de-husking and milling of paddy is the rice bran [3,7]. The bran
is the hard outer layer of rice consisting of aleurone and pericarp. Rice
bran contains an array of micronutrients like oryzanols, tocopherols,
tocotrienols, phytosterols, 20% oil and 15% protein, 50% carbohydrate
(majorly starch) dietary fibers like beta-glucan, pectin, and gum[3,8-
|Rice bran, which was earlier used primarily as animal feed, is now
finding major application in the form of rice bran oil [1,11,12]. India
and Thailand have been the most successful countries in rice bran oil
production1. In India the solvent extraction process of 40 lakh tons rice
bran yields about 6.5 lakh tons of rice bran oil . Rice bran oil refining
industry produces residues such as wax sludge, gum sludge and soap
stock that are a rich source of many nutraceuticals like oryzanols,
tocopherols, tocotrienols, ferulic acid, phytic acid, lecithin, inositol and
wax [4,13,14]. Though Japan contributes just 2% of total production
of paddy in the world, it is a promising producer of nutraceuticals
and other high value products from the derivatives of paddy . The
rice bran obtained from different varieties of colored rice are rice in
antioxidant compounds viz polyphenols, carotenoids, vitamin-E and
tocotrienol which help in preventing the damage of body tissue and
oxidative damage of DNA . As Ling et al. [124,125] study done
reveals feeding bran fractions of certain colored rice varieties to rabbits
improved antioxidant status in their blood and showed significant
reduction in atherosclerotic plaque.
|Stabilizing rice bran
|Until recently, rice bran as a source of value-added food product
was under-utilized due to lipase enzyme which is endogenously present
or produced as a result of microbial activity which is activated during the milling process . These lipases hydrolyze the oil into glycerol
and free fatty acids which give the product a rancid smell and bitter
taste that renders the bran unsuitable for consumption. Under normal
milling conditions rice bran will degrade in approximately six hours
into an unpalatable material making it unsuitable as human food.
Because of the problem with rancidity, most rice bran is used as a
high protein feed additive for animals or as fertilizer or fuel . Since
oxidative changes affect the oil quality adversely and are not very rapid
in their manifestation, stabilization becomes a pre-requisite. These
efforts are aimed at destruction or inhibition of lipase–the enzyme
that causes development of free fatty acid (FFA). This is done so as to
reduce oil losses which are directly proportional to the FFA content
. Rice bran can be stabilized by a variety of methods like cold
storage, sun-drying, steaming and expelling. Chemical stabilizers like
sodium metabisulphate can also be used. Properly processed extrusionstabilized
rice bran from rough rice can be safely stored for up to one
year at ≤22°C in gas-permeable packaging. But the maximum safe
storage life for par-boiled rice bran is estimated at less than 3-4 months
|A promising method of stabilizing rice bran is ohmic heating
[18,19]. The passage of alternating current through a food sample
results in ohmic or electrical heating by virtue of the sample’s electrical
resistance [20,21]. In order to stabilize rice bran and improve the oil
extraction yield Lakkakula et al. , used ohmic heating, the results
of which showed that, this is an effective method for bran stabilization
when coupled with moisture addition. The concentration of FFA
increased at a slower rate with no corresponding temperature rise,
indicating the non thermal effect of electricity on lipase activity. The
total percentage of lipids extracted were a maximum of 92%.
|The latest invention in this respect has been the use of an acid
having antioxidative properties. This is added to food product
containing parboiled rice bran in amounts of about 0.10% to 2.0%
by weight to maintain the stability of the food product for at least six
months at ambient conditions. Examples of these kinds of acids are
ascorbic, ascorbyl palmitate and phosphoric acid and mixtures of any
of the above. Other examples include acacetin and rosmarinic acid, and
phenolic compounds such as salicylic, cinnamic and trans-cinnamic,
synaptic, chlorogenic, quimic, ferulic, gallic, p-coumaric, vanillic acid
and vanillian, and caffeic acids. However, an antioxidant mixture such
as “Petox” (a combination of BHA, BHT and citric acids) has been
found to be ineffective when used alone [18-20].
|Extraction and refining of rice bran oil
|Crude rice bran oil is composed of 4% unsaponifiables, 2-4% free
fatty acids and 88-89% neutral lipids. The unsaponifiable fraction is
a complex mixture of naturally occurring antioxidant compounds
such as vitamin E and oryzanol . For the commercial extraction of
oil from rice bran, hexane is the solvent of choice [22,23]. Hexane is
directly mixed with stabilized rice bran at 20°C at 2:1 (W/W solvent to
bran ratio) or pre-heated to 60°C at 3:1 (W/W solvent to bran ratio) in
flasks capped and immersed in a constant-temperature water bath at
40°C or 60°C for pre-determined time. Vaccum evaporation of solvent
from the miscella yields crude rice bran oil.
|However, hexane poses several drawbacks such as potential fire,
health and environmental hazards. For this purpose short chain–
alcohols such as ethanol and isopropanol have been proposed
alternatively owing to their greater safety and lower need for regulation
. Alcohols extract more non-glyceride materials due to their
greater polarity. Generally alcohol-extracted oils have greater amounts
of phosphatide and unsaponifiable compounds [25,26]. Ethanol has
been used for the extraction of rice bran oil rich in tocopherols and B
vitamins whereas isopropanol has been used for the extraction of rice
bran oil rich in B vitamins alone [10,27].
|Though widely accepted, extraction with hexane achieves limited
success in terms of good colour quality, by limiting FFA content. This is
due to the fact that specific group components of oil seed lipids cannot
be controlled. Supercritical fluid has more versatile solvent properties
as against liquid extraction agents . This can be attributed to greater
control over lipid solubility and mass transfer properties such as
diffusivity of the extraction medium. The regulation of these properties
is expanded to the entire domain of pressure and temperature above the
critical point of SCF being used . RBO yield with SC-CO2 ranged
between 19.2% & 20.4% and the yield increased with temperature at
isobaric conditions . In spite of obvious advantages, this technology
has limitations due to the high cost of equipment for extraction [13, 31-
|Introduction of one or two enzymatic reactions prior to solvent
extraction resulted in higher oil yields [35-38]. However when these
enzymatic treatments were used alone the process did not result in
reasonable oil extraction yields [3,39]. Rice bran was treated with
cellulase and pectinase and extracted with n-hexane. The effect of
enzyme concentration was the most important factor for determining oil
and protein extraction yields whereas incubation time and temperature
had no significant effect . An alternative enzymatic reaction is the
use of alpha-amylase to gelatinize starch prior to a saccharifying step,
while the residual paste containing 66.75% of the original bran may be subjected to a proteolytic process for the extraction of proteins or
directly treated with solvents to obtain RBO .
|The oil from the rice bran is stable and fit for consumption
after refining. The capacity of present continuous type rice bran oil
mill is 50-200 t/d and that of batch type mill is 30 t/d. The refining
of RBO improves the quality of edible oil and is economical and
gives byproducts like oryzanol, inositol, phytosterols which are of
pharmaceutical importance. It minimizes the problems of liquid waste
and conserves energy [7,14].
|Conventionally, chemical refining is preferred over physical
refining. The RBO has a variety of minor components such as gamma
oryzanol, tocopherols, tocotrienols and phytosterols which differ in
their composition and renders RBO refining more complicated when
compared with the refining of other oils [1,8,13,42]. Some stages in
the chemical refining of RBO cause significant losses or changes in
the composition of these minor components [1,13]. For instance,
the oryzanol content for physically refined RBO was the original
amount i.e. from 1.1%-1.74% whereas for chemically refined oil it was
a considerably lower amount i.e. 0.19%-0.20 % . When the effect
of chemical refining was examined on the micronutrients, it showed
that alkali treatment results in significant loss of gamma oryzanol and
modifies the composition of phytosterols. Bleaching shows formation
of some isomers of 24-methylenecycloartanol (a gamma oryzanol
component). During deodorization the highly volatile compounds like
phytosterols and tocotrienols are stripped off while the non volatile
gamma oryzanol is retained that leads to formation of less than 1%
trans FA. The entire process of chemical refining removes 99.5% of the
free fatty acid component .
|The physical method of refining RBO is appealing because of its
simplicity, lack of environmental impact, low oil losses and good quality
product. The recovery of unsaponifiables is more in this method than
in chemical refining. Physical refining reduces neutral oil losses and
eliminates soap stock by removing FFA. The existence of wax, oryzanol
and phosphatides leads to darkening of colour and higher refining
losses of RBO. Removal of undesirable components incompletely
during pre-treatments affects the quality of the final product .
|Uses of rice bran
|Rice bran has several unique properties that render its suitability
for niche markets like nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industry. One
such feature is the presence of significant levels of minor-elements such
as oryzanol, tocotrienol and phytosterols that have a large nutraceutical
application. They are used in the development of value-added healthy
products . Gamma oryzanol has been found to have higher antioxidant
action in comparison with tocopherol. Gamma oryzanol
comprises of ferulic acid esters of sterols and triterpene alcohols. The
ferulic acid esters are campesterol, stigmasterol, and beta-cytosterol
and the triterpene alcohols are cycloartenol, cycloartanol, 24-
methylenecycloartanol and cyclobranol [45,46]. Due to its antioxidant
action, it is drawing immense interest in research world as a food
additive. It has been cited as ‘oxidation inhibitor’ in the ‘food additive
|The antioxidants at cellular and molecular levels are known to deactivate the natural by-products of the oxidative metabolism that are
popularly known as free radicals [13,47,48]. The minor components of
the rice bran i.e. gamma oryzanol, phytosterols and other phytosterol
conjugates are examined to have antioxidant property against the
free radicals [49,50]. The ferulic acid ester of the gamma oryzanol is
known to be a potent antioxidant which has stabilizing properties at
elevated temperatures . Studies have shown that one test tube of
gamma oryzanol is four times as effective as vitamin E in inhibiting
the cellular oxidation. When compared with the four vitamin E
components (alpha-tocopherol, beta-tocopherol, alpha-tocotrienol
and beta-tocotrienol) the components of gamma oryzanol showed
higher antioxidant capacities. All these factors can be used to develop
nutraceuticals and other food ingredients from the chemically suitable
and biologically functional compounds of the rice bran that are known
to have antioxidant properties [13,49,52-54].
|Rice bran in food products
|Rice bran is highly nutritious and hence used as a food additive
. Its major use as an additive in foods is due to the dietary fibers
present in it which confer upon it the properties of a good laxative [56-
59]. Sekhon et al. , carried out studies which revealed that the bread
volume and cookie spread decreased but muffin volume increased with
the addition of different types of bran. Interestingly, the addition of
full fat rice bran did not affect the cookie spread factor. Different food
products could be produced to contain 5-10% rice bran. Similar studies
were carried out by Dimitra and Constantina [60-63], to examine the
effect of dietary fiber and the bran of various cereals like wheat, oat
and rice on cake batter, product shelf life, final cake quality parameters
such as batter viscosity, specific volume, porosity and crumb moisture
|Food grade wax
|Wax is an ester of long chain carboxylic acid and a long chain
alcohol. During RBO extraction a certain amount of wax is obtained
by the dewaxing step of refining process and the amount varies with
conditions of extraction like source and history of rice bran, solvent
used and extraction temperature . Rice bran wax (RBW) can be
distinguished as hard wax (38.5%) and soft wax (11.2%) [65,66]. The
presence of resinous matter is majorly responsible for the dark reddish
brown colour and characteristic odour of crude RBW . Shaik
Ramjan Vali et al.  have outlined a process for purifying crude
wax and the successive preparation of food grade RBW. The potential
applications of RBW can be realized in pharmaceutical, food, cosmetic,
polymer and leather industries [69,70].
|Poly Hydroxy Alkanoates (PHA)
|PHA are the environment–friendly analogues of petrochemical
derived plastics which show gas barrier properties comparable to those
of poly vinyl chloride and poly ethylene terephthalate [71,72]. In a
study conducted by Ting-Yen Huang et al. , extruded rice bran and
extruded corn starch were used in various proportions as the carbon
source by an archae Haloferax mediterranei for procuring PHA. By
varying the culture conditions, various concentrations of PHA were
|The applications of PHA are in manufacture of paper, card board
or food trays or as an alternative to aluminium films and polyethylene
. Other thrust research areas are controlled drug release, sutures,
wound dressing, bone plates, paramedical disposables and therapeutic
|Stabilized rice bran contains large concentrations of several
compounds and has the potential to prevent a range of chronic
diseases. It is believed that RB serves as an important functional food
that has cholesterol lowering properties, cardiovascular health benefits
and anti-tumor activity [10,75].
|RBO have hypocholesterolemic influence resulting from selective
decrease of Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol (C) fraction.
This effect was far greater than the predicted values (Table 1). This
discrepancy could be attributed to the presence of high concentration
of unsaponifiables including phytosterols, oryzanols, and tocotrienols
[10,75-77]. Phytosterols have purported to be cholesterol-lowering
agents since the 1950s. Most studies undertaken thus far have focused
on the action of beta-sitosterol and sitostanol in reducing LDL and
circulating cholesterol levels. These results indicate that these agents
may be hypolipidemic agents in mild hypercholesterolemia by
altering the lipid metabolism, for instance reducing liver acetyl Co-A
carboxylase and malic acid activities [78-80]. Gamma- oryzanol was
also found to have similar hypocholesterolemic effects. Low and high
gamma-oryzanol containing RBO feeding for four weeks reduced total
plasma cholesterol (6.3%), LDL-C (10.5%), and LDL-C/HDL-C ratio
(18.9%) . Also the unsaponifiables present in the rice bran were
shown to significantly reduce liver cholesterol levels [82-84].
||Table 1: Cholesterol lowering activity of RBO in comparison to other edible oils (Sea Handbook, 2009)
|Coronary heart disease (CHD)
|The consumption of dietary fiber that is present in cereals have
shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality
by reducing blood pressure, lowering blood cholesterol levels and
improving insulin sensitivity [85-88]. The risk of CHD mortality was
inversely related to the consumption of dietary fiber from cereals or
|For the assessment of coronary heart diseases, levels of individual
circulating cholesterol are considered more important than total
cholesterol. LDL is directly associated with the development of cardio
vascular diseases, whereas HDL has an inverse relationship [78,92-94].
In human diets, supplementation of soluble sitostanol significantly
reduced total circulating cholesterol and LDL levels by 7.5% and 10 %
|Addition of dietary phytosterols has been found to increase
Lecithin – Cholesterol Acyl Transferase (LCAT) levels in blood [78,96-
99]. This in turn facilitates the sequestration of cholesterol within the
hydrophobic core of HDL cholesterol .
|Phytosterols have shown to inhibit tumors induced by chemicals
in animals. The production of coprostanol and other neutral sterols
and bile acids by colonic micro-flora from dietary cholesterol, have
been established as factors in colon carcinogenesis . Secondary
bile acid products also aid in the development of colon cancer. Studies
have suggested that dietary phytosterols significantly alter the levels of
faecal cholesterol, cholesterol breakdown products and bile acids by
decreasing the epithelial cell proliferation [102,103]. This may be due
to suppression of bacterial metabolism of cholesterol and/or secondary
bile acid in the colon and by increase of excretion of cholesterol itself
[78,104]. Bingham et al.  studied the relationship between dietary
fiber consumption and the incidence of colorectal cancer. The amount
of dietary fiber consumption gave the relative risk estimates in a set
of individuals who were grouped by sex-specific, cohort-wide quintiles
and from linear models relating the hazard ratio to fiber consumption
expressed as a continuous variable. The results showed that the intake
of dietary fiber was inversely related to the occurrence of colorectal
cancer. The highest protective effect was shown at the left side of the
colon where as the least protective effect was at rectum. The value of the
adjusted relative risk for the highest versus lowest quintile of dietary
fiber was 0.58 (0.41-0.85). Hence it was interpreted that by approximate
doubling of total fiber intake in individuals with low average dietary
fiber intake, the risk of large bowel cancer reduced greatly by 40%
|Anti - Ageing / Cosmetics and Personal Care
|The oryzanol component acts as a protective agent against UV light
induced lipid peroxidation and hence can be used as a potent sunscreen
agent. The ferulic acid and its esters present in gamma oryzanol
stimulate hair growth and prevent skin ageing [108,109].
|Rice bran contains approximately 500 ppm of tocotrienols .
Tocotrienols when applied to the skin penetrate and get absorbed
rapidly. Majorly they get accumulated at the strata corneum of the
skin and act as the first line of defense with their antioxidant property.
They stabilize the free radicals generated in the skin when exposed to
oxidative rays. They protect the skin against UV induced skin damage
and skin ageing and thus help in skin repair. The efficacy of sunscreens
containing compounds that reduce penetration of or absorb ultraviolet
radiation is augmented by using tocotrienols in them [108,109,111].
|Rice bran oil has shown immunostimulation effects. It is rich
in phytosterols, sterolins and gamma-oryzanol, a compound with
antioxidant properties which may modulate the immune system
.The gamma oryzanol of rice bran reduced a prominent amount
of elevated serum levels in hypothyroid patients . It is known to
have a significant effect on menopause by alleviating the menopausal
symptoms like hot flashes [113,114]. It is used as an ergogenic
supplement by body builders and athletes . Rice bran fraction
derived from driselase treatment prevents high blood pressure,
hyperlipidemia, and hyperglycemia. Driselase is an esterase-free
commercial plant cell wall-degrading enzyme mixture that is made of
cellulase, xylanase, and laminarinase . The derivatives from the
stabilized rice bran are rich in beta-sitosterols which inhibit the growth
and induce apoptosis in breast cancer cells . The nutraceuticals
developed from the soluble and fiber fractions of rice bran control
both type I and type II Diabetes Mellitus . Augmenting with rice
bran health foods that contain oryzanol, lead to reduced bone loss in women who suffered from postmenopausal osteoporosis . As per
the studies done Vander Berg et al. the expensive vitamin sources from
animals can be replaced by plant sources. Many colored rice cultivars
have a ray of micronutrients including a rich reserve of β-carotene
which can be converted to vitamin-A which requires the presence of
unsaturated fatty acids which in turn are also present in colored rice
|The ortho, meta and para dicholorobenzenes have been employed
as insecticides for a number of years. Among these the para- isomer
has been used on a very large scale against insects and moths infesting
clothes, hides, furs and museum specimens. Remarkably, rice bran was
found to be an effective adsorbant of para- dicholorobenzene in a broad
pH range of 1-12. The adsorbtion reaction was Freundlich type. This
property of rice bran was attributed to the uptake by the intracellular
particles called spherosomes [120-122].
|India is the second largest producer of rice and consequently
majority of the Indian population is dependent on rice as its staple
food. Though the bran is rich in micronutrients like oryzanols,
tocopherols, tocotrienols, phytosterols, and dietary fibers like betaglucan,
pectin, and gum, it has been underutilized due to several
reasons some of them being ignorance, presence of impurities like
arsenic and silica, difficulties due to the presence of free fatty acids.
Rice bran has been used to develop many health promoting products
which have hypolipidemic, anti-tumor, anti-oxidant, ergogenic and
laxative properties. An important consumer product from rice bran
is the rice bran oil which is obtained by a series of refining steps that
can be categorized as chemical and physical refining. When compared
it was found that physical refining retains a greater percentage of
phytonutrients. Advanced technologies like super critical fluid
extraction can be effectively implemented in developing futuristic
nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products to combat the present
higher incidence of coronary heart diseases and many other ailments.
|The authors are grateful to the Principal, Sri Jayachamarajendra College
of Engineering, Mysore and the Head of the Department, Department of
Biotechnology for providing facilities for the research work. They also thank The
Institute of Engineers (India), Kolkata for their gracious financial support
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