What Is Bran And Is It Actually Nutritious?

When you think of bran, "Game of Thrones" may initially come to mind, but we are not talking about the Three-Eyed Raven with supernatural powers who goes by the name of Bran Stark. But with that said, don't be disappointed. The bran we are talking about has some super powers of its own, and after you learn all about bran and its résumé of benefits, you may decide it's time to consider adding it to your diet. 

What is bran? Bran is part of the holy trinity that makes up whole grain. Per dummies.com, whole grain consists of bran, endosperm, and germ. Bran is primarily soluble and insoluble fiber, the good stuff that fills you up and keeps you regular, and as an added bonus is full of protein. It is edible and is obtained from the hard outer layer that protects the cereal grain's kernel or seed. Per The Spruce Eats, bran is basically the skin of a seed that is consumable. It can come from any grain, but it can also come from nuts. Food Processing shares that nuts can also produce bran. Robert Miltner, vice president of business development for Nut-trition Inc. told the outlet, "Almond bran is created from the brown outer skin of an almond removed during the almond blanching process." So, there is great variety when it comes to bran.

Why do we care about bran?

Harvard School of Public Health explains that the industrial revolution of the 19th century really changed how we process and consume grains. With new inventions, it became easier to separate the bran and the germ from the grain, which left just the endosperm, which is turned into the refined flour we know and love. Of course, without refined flour, we would not have all the yummy foods we can make with it, but the seemingly over-processed grain also means we are consuming fewer of its health benefits than when it is whole. 

Harvard School of Public Health shares you are getting 90% less vitamin E and half the vitamin B when you eat refined flours. And the Whole Grain Council notes that, when you take away the bran and the germ from a whole grain, you lose 25% of a grain's protein, as well as many other nutrients. Not to mention, there's the fiber that bran adds to your diet. So we all can concede that whole grains are best; however, Today's Dietician reveals that you can actually have your cake and eat it, too. By simply "sprinkling" your favorite bran — be it oat, corn, rice, wheat, you fill in the blank — into whatever foods and recipes you wish, you can easily add that fiber back into your food and reap the benefits. 

What does bran taste like?

Wheat bran is probably the most common type of bran we consume, and according to Healthline, its taste is most commonly described as "sweet" and "nutty." There are many ways to eat bran. Whether you buy it bulk and bake with it or purchase cereals that are made with it, adding bran to your diet is definitely accessible. But does it taste good? At the end of the day, that's the real question, right? However, the answer might not be so straightforward. It really depends on how you consume it.

If you have ever eaten commercially made bran cereals, you may find that they do not taste either sweet or nutty all. Some Influenster.com reviewers of Kellogg's All-Bran shared they thought it tasted like "cardboard" and not all that appetizing. It's a fair criticism, but we suggest finding another type of bran to suit your tastes. For example, corn bran is said to be much more appealing. Per the blog Mr. Breakfast, Quaker cereal makes a Crunchy Corn Bran Cereal with a sweet corn taste really shines through. And, if you do not like convenience cereals, you can always add bran to your foods yourself. The Spruce Eats suggests using your bran of choice when you make pancakes, muffins, and even cookies, while Healthline shares you can add it to yogurt, smoothies, and hot cereals.

What are bran's health benefits?

Bran, in general, is full of nutritional elements that will help keep your body healthy. According to Healthline, half a cup of wheat bran has only 63 calories and 12.5 grams of your daily recommended intake of fiber — just a little less than half of the daily total target, which, as UCSF Health notes is 25 grams. The Spruce Eat shares that wheat and rice bran have the most soluble and insoluble fiber, which is part of those super powers we mentioned previously. Insoluble fiber keeps constipation at bay, and we can all agree that's just about as good as being able to defeat White Walkers, at least in our humble opinion. 

Today's Dietician also notes that oat bran's soluble fiber is a boon when it comes to helping lower cholesterol levels. And another benefit of fiber is the role it is believed to play in helping to prevent colon cancer. Healthline points to several studies that have shown a healthy consumption of fiber can reduce the risk of this cancer, which they note is the third most common type of cancer in adults. The takeaway? Fiber is good for you! But a word to the wise: Drink lots of liquids when you eat bran. This will help with digestion.

Where to buy and how to store bran

So, where can you purchase bran either prepackaged or in bulk, and how do you store it? You can buy different types of bran at most grocery stores and even online. Whole Foods, Amazon, and the aisle in most local grocery stores where you find ingredients for baking will carry a variety of bran. The Spruce Eats shares that oat bran is most likely to be found in the cereal aisle but, because rice bran has yet to join the food trends, you may have to visit a specialty store to find it.

As far storing your bran, Leaf.tv claims you want to keep it in an airtight container, removed from heat and light. The site notes that because you are not likely to use up your bran with any rapidity, it is best to store it in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent it from either going rancid, or perhaps worse, attracting pantry moths which definitely doesn't sound pleasant. They also suggest not purchasing more bran than you can use within a 30-day period.