How to Avoid Arsenic in Rice
By Sara Butler
There are many benefits to rice. It’s gluten-free (if you need that sort of thing), it’s loaded with fiber, and it’s considered a whole grain. But it’s hiding a very dirty secret: Rice can contain arsenic, a carcinogen that is linked to lung, skin, liver, bladder, and prostate issues. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has provided tips to help people curb their exposure to arsenic through rice. Here’s what you need to know.
Forget the Rice Milk
Milk made from rice may seem like a good substitute for dairy, but it’s made from rice bran. Rice bran is the most harmful part of the rice grain and is more likely to contain arsenic than any other part. EWG researchers have found that rice milk can surpass the boundary for arsenic put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is set at 10 parts per billion. Rice milk can range from 17 to 70 parts to billion. So, don’t buy rice milk or keep in your home for your children to drink -- just to be on the safe side.
Cook Rice Right
Cooking rice in clean water can reduce the amount of arsenic in it, but so can rinsing the rice before you cook it. In fact, rinsing rice can reduce arsenic by up to 40 percent. You should investigate whether or not your tap water contains arsenic, information that can be found online through EWG database.
Use Different Grains
Rice contains arsenic due to the way it’s grown. Arsenic from the soil bleeds into rice patties when they’re flooded, causing contamination of the plants. It absorbs the heavy metal from the environment and then ends up on your kitchen table. Other grains don’t have as much of a problem with arsenic as rice. In fact, barley and wheat have far less arsenic per kilogram than rice. So, try oats, corn, or other whole grains such as millet instead of rice for less exposure to arsenic.
Though high fructose corn syrup gets the most press, brown rice syrup is used quite frequently to sweeten foods. It’s made from rice, which means it contains arsenic. What’s really disturbing is that even organically grown rice can be contaminated, and the brown rice syrup made from it is often used to sweeten toddler formulas. So, be on the lookout for it!
Rice has its place in your nutrition, but you have to make sure you're serving it to your family safely!
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