What is rice bran and is it safe?

Rice bran

When white rice is manufactured, the outer shell of the whole grain brown rice is removed.  The outer bran is rich in nutrients and protein and must be sterilized in order to prevent spoilage due to enzymes in the raw, fresh product.

Rice bran also contains a rich oil that has recently been extracted for culinary uses.  It is also used in livestock production and in horse care to feed older horses since it is rich in lipids that are easier on their digestion.

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Rice bran is high in protein, saturated fat and magnesium, iron and phosphorus.

Some worry has begun as of late concerning possible arsenic poisoning in rice bran.  This is because rice bran grown on the east coast and in the south was tested for arsenic and found to have high concentrations due to the pest control measures that had previously been used on rice cultivation land.

Rice grown in California is known to have lower levels of arsenic since the pest control methods that generated the elevated arsenic levels were used to control boll-weevil populations in cotton fields that were then converted to use for cultivating rice.  Land that is used to cultivate rice in California wasn’t treated with any kind of arsenic containing pesticides because cotton wasn’t a popular crop in California.

Rice bran products produced in California from rice bran grown in California are generally safe.  Although there is some naturally occurring arsenic in all rice bran, Californian rice bran doesn’t contain manufactured arsenic.  Because rice bran is a high quality source of many important nutrients, you may want to include some in your diet.  Consuming large quantities of rice bran, or consuming rice bran for extended periods of time is not recommended due to the possibility of a build-up of arsenic in your system.

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