Uses and Benefits of Bran

Whole grains like wheat, rice, oats, and rye comprise three edible layers: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. Bran is the hard outer layer removed during refining to give grains a smoother texture and improve their shelf life.

However, it is a rich source of essential nutrients, particularly fiber, that benefit your health and may even prevent chronic disease.

This article discusses the health benefits, nutrient composition, and food sources of bran.

Dry oat flakes in a bowl

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What Are the Benefits of Bran?

Bran is a good source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Wheat bran, in particular, is high in insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to the stool and helps food pass quickly through the stomach and intestines.

Wheat bran also contains a prebiotic fiber that may promote the growth of Bifidobacterium, a healthy bacteria found in your gut. Because of these properties, wheat bran has been linked to improved digestive health and a decreased risk of heart disease, colon cancer, and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes.

On the other hand, oat and barley bran are excellent sources of insoluble and soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and turns into a gel-like material, slowing down digestion. They're also rich in beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber linked to lower cholesterol levels and the prevention of heart disease.

High-fiber diets can increase metabolism and decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Getting adequate amounts of this nutrient can also help reduce the risk of certain cancers and aid in weight loss.

Is Bran Really Good for You?

There are many health benefits of bran. However, it contains phytic acid, which some refer to as an antinutrient because it may interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients. Bran also has fructans, which may trigger symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

What Is in Bran?

In addition to providing an excellent source of fiber, bran is chock-full of vitamins and minerals. It's also a relatively good source of protein and low in calories and fat.

A half-cup serving of wheat bran provides:

  • Calories: 65
  • Fat: 1.3 grams
  • Protein: 4.6 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 19.4 grams
  • Fiber: 12.9 grams (46% DV)
  • Iron: 3.1 milligrams (17% DV)
  • Potassium: 354 milligrams (7.5% DV)
  • Magnesium: 184 milligrams (44% DV)
  • Phosphorus: 303 milligrams (24% DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 0.4 milligrams (24% DV)
  • Thiamine: 0.16 milligrams (13% DV)
  • Riboflavin: 0.17 milligrams ( 13% DV)
  • Niacin: 4.08 milligrams (26% DV)
  • Selenium: 23.3 milligrams (42% DV)

What Foods Contain Bran?

You can purchase bran at your local grocery store or online. It typically comes ground and can be mixed into baked goods and casseroles. Sprinkle bran on various foods, including muffins, smoothies, hot cereal, cookies, and pancakes. Common sources of bran include wheat, oat, rye, and rice.

You can also find bran in whole-grain foods, such as:

  • Bran flakes
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Multigrain flour tortillas
  • Oatmeal
  • Products made with whole wheat flour

What if I Have a Gluten Intolerance?

Wheat and rye bran contain gluten, making them off-limits for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Oat and rice bran are naturally gluten-free, but cross-contamination can occur during production or processing. Look for gluten-free labeling and check the ingredient list. Freshly ground flaxseed is a good alternative.

Signs You May Need More Fiber

The recommended dietary fiber is 14 grams for every 1,000 calories, or about 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women daily.

An estimated 95% of adults and children do not consume adequate fiber in their diets. If you're not getting enough, your body may tell you. Constipation is perhaps one of the most common symptoms of insufficient fiber intake.

Other signs you may need more fiber include:

  • High cholesterol
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Feeling hungry soon after eating
  • Hemorrhoids

Diverticulosis, a condition in which small pouches or pockets develop in the digestive tract, is also believed to result from a low-fiber diet.

When adding fiber to your diet, it is important to do so gradually so your body can get used to it. Adding fiber too quickly can lead to gas, cramps, and bloating.


Bran is the hard outer layer of whole cereal grains. It is rich in nutrients and an excellent source of fiber. Bran may offer several health benefits, including improving digestive health and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. You can include more bran in your diet and increase your daily fiber intake by sprinkling it on muffins, smoothies, casseroles, and hot cereal.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is bran a source of fiber?

    Bran is an excellent source of fiber, containing around 12.9 grams of fiber per half-cup serving.

  • What’s the difference between oat and wheat bran?

    One of the main differences between oat and wheat bran is that oat bran is gluten-free. Wheat bran also primarily contains insoluble fiber, while oat bran is high in insoluble and soluble fiber.

  • Is bran as healthy as oatmeal?

    Though both are healthy choices, oat bran is generally considered more nutritious than oatmeal because it contains more fiber and protein with fewer calories.

19 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Lindsey DeSoto, RD, LD
Lindsey Desoto is a registered dietitian with experience working with clients to improve their diet for health-related reasons. She enjoys staying up to date on the latest research and translating nutrition science into practical eating advice to help others live healthier lives.