Bran is the outer layer of any cereal grain, including wheat, oats, rice, maize, barley, rye and millet. Bran is a common dietary supplement, and is a good way of adding the benefits of wholegrain to your diet.
High in insoluble fibre, bran is known to aid the digestive system, helping you to feel fuller and keeping the digestive tract moving, lowering the risk of constipation. Fibre is also thought to play a role in reducing blood pressure, and in lowering cholesterol, both of which contribute to good cardiovascular health.
Bran is rich in phytic acid, which is known to help lower blood sugar. Phytic acid is sometimes called an anti-nutrient, as it binds to certain minerals such as zinc and calcium, inhibiting their absorption by the body. However, when bran is eaten as part of a healthy balanced diet, this downside of phytic acid is outweighed by its positive effects as an antioxidant.
Bran is also a good source of selenium, which plays a vital role in healthy DNA and in protecting the body against the effects of free radicals.
Some people consume bran, particularly oat bran, as part of a weight loss programme, as it interacts in the digestive system to inhibit the absorption of certain fats and carbohydrates.