good health

Hearty choice
With its many benefits, low absorption properties, stability and delicate flavour, rice bran oil has acquired a health food status
Ishi Khosla

Native to southern India, rice bran oil seemed to have got lost its identity in the plethora of refined cooking oils. Scientific research has discovered its goodness and rice bran oil has now acquired a respectable position among cooking oils. Now it is commonly used in countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. What makes rice bran oil so special, is its desirable fatty acid profile and antioxidant properties.
Frying in rice bran oil can be a better choice as its uptake in fried food products has been reported to be less than most cooking oils
Frying in rice bran oil can be a better choice as its uptake in fried food products has been reported to be less than most cooking oils

Being a good source (40 per cent) of mono-unsaturated fats (MUFA), rice bran oil protects against cardiovascular ailments by reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) by an impressive 7 per cent to 10 per cent. It has also been found to protect against the early onset of atherosclerosis and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The reduction in LDL cholesterol can also be attributed antioxidants like gamma oryzanol and tocotrienols present in rice bran oil. Oryzanol reduces cholesterol by increasing fecal bile acid excretion, conversion of cholesterol to bile acids and inhibition of cholesterol absorption. Alpha-linolenic acid present in this oil is the precursors of omega-3 fatty acids. This component helps in prevention of cardio vascular disease, lowering of blood pressure and in improving brain function.

One of the special features is the high concentration of powerful phyto-sterols-cholesterol like substances. Phyto-sterols have also been found to protect against cancer, especially colon and gastro-intestinal tract. Beta-sistosterol is one of the common phytosterols found in rice bran oil.

Rice bran oil can be used in salad dressings, baking, cooking and frying, as it does not have a lingering aftertaste

The impressive oryzanol, a phyto chemical oxidant, unique to rice bran oil, lends several health promoting properties to this oil.

Gamma-oryzanol also has potent anti-cancer effects. Besides being good for normal growth, development, skin and immunity, it also protects the oil from rancidity contributing to its long shelf-life. Gamma-oryzanol has been known to treat nerve imbalance and disorders of menopause. It has been used in Japan like natural antioxidant in foods, beverages and cosmetics.

Tocopherols(vitamin E) and tocotrienols are other antioxidants which also contribute to long shelf life. Oxidation stability is one of the main criteria for selecting a frying medium. Studies conducted by CFTRI (Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, India) have shown that rice bran oil has 2.5 to 5 times more oxidation stability depending on the oryzanol content compared to groundnut oil.

In addition, frying in rice bran oil is also good as its uptake in fried food products has been reported to be less in comparison to most cooking oils. When compared particularly to groundnut oil, the uptake is 5 to 10 per cent less. The light viscosity of rice bran oil also allows less oil to be absorbed in cooking, rendering the food non-greasy and reducing overall calories.

Its use in cooking can be contributed to its better stability compared to other cooking oils. The high smoking point (213°C) prevents fatty acid breakdown at high temperatures. Further advantage is its natural resistance to smoking at high frying temperatures.

Being an excellent frying medium and contributing pleasant flavour to fried foods are some of the properties of rice bran oil which make it a premium choice for frying upscale products ranging from potato chips to chicken and fish. It can also be used in salad dressings, baking, cooking and frying without a lingering aftertaste.

Not surprisingly, with its health benefits, low absorption properties, stability and delicate flavour, rice bran oil has acquired health food status in many Eastern countries. 




Relationship anxiety could weaken immune system

Anxiety and concerns about your close relationships can make you fall ill by reducing your immunity, a new study claims. Such concerns appear to function as a chronic stressor that can compromise immunity, researchers said.

They asked married couples to complete questionnaires about their relationships and collected saliva and blood samples to test participants’ levels of a key stress-related hormone and numbers of certain immune cells.

Those who are on the high end of the attachment anxiety spectrum are excessively concerned about being rejected, have a tendency to constantly seek reassurance that they are loved, and are more likely to interpret ambiguous events in a relationship as negative, researchers said.

Married partners, who were more anxiously attached, produced higher levels of cortisol, a steroid hormone that is released in response to stress, and had fewer T cells — important components of the immune system’s defence against infection — than did participants who were less anxiously attached.

“Everyone has these types of concerns now and again in their relationships, but a high level of attachment anxiety refers to people who have these worries fairly constantly in most of their relationships,” said Lisa Jaremka, lead researcher from Ohio State University’s Institute for Behavioural Medicine Research.

Though some scientists theorise that attachment anxiety can be traced to inconsistent care during one’s infancy, Jaremka noted that there is also research-based evidence that people with attachment anxiety can change.“It’s not necessarily a permanent state of existence,” she said in the study published in the journal Psychological Science.

Jaremka and colleagues tested the health effects of attachment anxiety on 85 couples who had been married for an average of more than 12 years. The participants reported general anxiety symptoms and their sleep quality.

Participants with higher attachment anxiety produced, on average, 11 per cent more cortisol than did those with lower attachment anxiety. The more anxiously attached participants also had between 11 per cent and 22 per cent fewer T cells than did less anxiously attached partners. — Agencies 




Health Capsules

Near-sighted children may get worse in winter

Vision of near-sighted children deteriorate faster when days were shortest and more slowly during the summer, according to a Chinese study. “Most likely it is the light exposure that causes the reduced myopia progression during periods with longer days,” said author Dongmei Cui, an ophthalmologist at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China. Cui and team analysed data from a trial that included more than 200 children aged 8 to 14 with myopia in Denmark, where day length ranges from seven hours in winter to almost 18 hours in summer. The findings appeared in Ophthalmology. Danish children spend more time outdoors in summer, and very little in winter. That daylight might protect children from worsening near-sightedness is a relatively new theory, said Prof Jeffrey Cooper, College of Optometry, University of New York. Parents should encourage children at risk for nearsightedness to spend some time outdoors.

Plant-based diets not healthy for environment

A nutritious diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables might be healthier for humans but not necessarily for the environment, according to a French study. After analysing the eating habits of about 2,000 adults, and the greenhouse gas emissions generated by producing the plants, fish, meat, fowl and other ingredients, researchers concluded in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that such a diet might not be the greenest in environmental impact. “When you eat healthy, you have to eat a lot of food that has a low content of energy,” said Nicole Darmon, the study’s author from the National Research Institute of Agronomy in Marseille, France. Growing fruits and vegetables doesn’t produce as much greenhouse gas as raising cattle or livestock, but food production — including the use of farming equipment and transportation — is estimated to be responsible for 15 per cent to 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in development countries. When Darmon and her colleagues looked at what people actually ate to get a certain amount of energy from food every day, they found that ‘healthiest’ diets - high in fruit, vegetables and fish - were linked to about as much, if not more, greenhouse gas emissions as low-quality diets that were high in sweets and salts. That’s because people who eat a plant-based diet need to eat more produce to get the amount of energy they’d have in a piece of meat. For example to the study’s calculations, people would need to eat about four kg (nine pounds) of fruit and vegetables to make up for a smaller serving of meat. — Reuters