Oryzanol: the new heart saver on the block

Our parents had little option to choose from when buying a cooking medium. I remember, there was homemade desi ghee, dalda, mustard oil and a few varieties of refined oils (which were still at a very nascent stage). But nowadays when we go oil shopping the mind boggles, looking at ‘n’ number of options and the healthy claims. The latest oil doing the rounds is rice bran oil with its heart healthy component: oryzanol.

Rice bran oil is being heavily popularized because of its health benefits. The oil is extracted from rice bran, a byproduct of the rice milling process (the conversion of brown rice to white rice). This oil contains a very high percentage of oryzanol which is a group of chemical compounds. Oryzanol are being researched extensively for their various health benefits.

Intake of oryzanol has been known to significantly decrease total cholesterol, ‘bad’ (low-density lipoprotein, LDL) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. But its effects on ‘good’ (high-density lipoprotein, HDL) cholesterol levels are less clear. Few other benefits where evidence has been inconclusive include:

  • Increasing testosterone (male reproductive hormone) and human growth hormone levels.
  • Improving strength during resistance exercise training.
  • Treating symptoms of menopause and aging.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of gamma oryzanol for these uses.

The above mentioned health benefits have been documented at high doses which are difficult to achieve through diet alone. In all these studies the diet was supplemented with oryzanol. A daily dose of 300 mg was given to observe lowering of cholesterol. However care needs to be taken while taking oryzanol as a supplement especially by those who have under active thyroid. Rather foods like brown rice, wheat bran, rye, barley, berries, olives contain varying amounts of oryzanol which can be consumed for the daily dose of this.

Like rice bran oil lots of oils are marketed for their heart protective effect. But one needs to understand that oils pack in them lots of calories as well. The oils which have constituents like MUFA, omega-3,6,9, etc. definitely have an edge over cooking medium containing trans fats and saturated fats. But at the end of the day they are oils. So watch before you eat.

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