However, apparently, arsenic is included in various foods we consume daily, and in high amounts. One of the richest foods in arsenic is rice.
This is all you need to know about it, its negative effects, and ways to reduce its levels:
Arsenic is a mineral that occurs naturally, and can be of two forms: organic and inorganic. The organic arsenic is naturally found in the crust of the earth and is less toxic.
It is released in the environment in numerous ways, including the use of poultry fertilizers and pesticides. To clarify this, arsenic is present in both, water and soil, so it directly enters foods which absorb nutrients, such as rice.
Research has confirmed that inorganic arsenic content in rice varies, depending on the growing methods of rice, as follows:
- White basmati rice from California, India, and Pakistan, includes approximately half of the inorganic arsenic amount of other types of rice.
- Inorganic arsenic is in highest levels found in all types of rice from Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana, except quick cooking and sushi.
- Brown rice contains approximately 80 percent more inorganic arsenic than the same type of white rice, as arsenic is absorbed in the fibrous outer layer, which is discarded to make white rice.
- Organically-grown rice absorbs arsenic in the same way and amount, so “organic rice” is not a safer variant.
Arsenic is a popular carcinogen and exposure causes raised risks of various cancer types, including skin, lun
g, and bladder cancer. Furthermore, continuous and increased exposure has also been linked to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Recent research has also warned that arsenic exposure poses severely damages the health of pregnant women and fetuses, as it causes weakened immune systems and hostile utero environment.
Health regulators and the health community have discussed this issue a lot. According to the USA Rice Federation, “white or brown rice in the diet provides measurable health benefits that outweigh the potential risks associated with exposure to trace levels of arsenic.”
This was not confirmed by the FDA, which stated that the negative effects and risks of the exposure of arsenic far outweigh the benefits.
Yet, there is still no official federal limit of arsenic and its presence in rice and rice products, but the FDA suggested an “action level” proposal for arsenic discovered in juice.
FDA Consumer Reports have made great efforts in order to regulate the levels of this carcinogen in our food. A year ago, the FDA announced that they believe that the biggest set or test findings show that rice products contain high levels of arsenic.
They even plan to release an official draft assessment which will estimate the potential threats imposed by the exposure of arsenic found in conventional food. On the other hand, you can choose to consume other grains which include reduced levels or no arsenic at all.
The following list will help you avoid or reduce the arsenic consumption, and follow a far healthier diet. These are the healthiest grains which contain no or negligible arsenic levels:
- Polenta or grits
If you cannot completely eliminate rice from your diet, here is an easy trick which can help you reduce arsenic levels: Before cooking, you should rinse raw rice with 6 cups water on a cup of rice. Drain the water afterward.
In this way, you may lose some of its nutritional value, but what’s more important, you will eliminate around 30 percent of the inorganic arsenic.