For nearly a century, bran as a food ingredient has been the sole purview of boring, high-fiber breakfast cereals like whole wheat bran flakes, all-bran, and oat bran. One company is challenging the food industry to rethink what bran can do for the human race.
Bran is the brown outer layer found on all cereal grains. It is the “whole” part of the whole grain. Until recently the food industry has focused on wheat bran and oat bran, and raisin bran is about as exciting as the formulations got.
The biggest reason rice bran has been wasted until now is that the lipase enzyme in rice bran causes the product to go rancid within 24 hours unless it is stabilized, and few companies have the technology to recover the highly nutritious ingredient, nor the tenacity to attempt to break open a new market for it. Rice bran is also 14–17 percent protein, which makes it a good plant-based protein source.
RiceBran Technologies has products that isolate this protein, making rice bran an alternative to soy and milk-based protein.
“Rice bran is probably the world’s most squandered plant protein source,” wrote Henk Hoogenkamp, a protein expert and board member for RiceBran Technologies, in an email.