The way you are cooking your rice could be killing you. Most people are not aware that there are traces of arsenic in almost all forms of rice. If you did know that, you probably were under the assumption that a simple rinse of your rice was enough to wash it away. Wrong. It’s important to be aware of this because arsenic can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and developmental delays.
The traditional method of cooking white rice, one part rice and two parts water in a pot on the stove that cooks until all the water steams out, was found to hardly reduce the amount of arsenic found at all. What actually works? Soaking your rice overnight. If you soak your rice overnight in water, and then rinse until the water is clear, then cook with five parts water to one part rice, almost 80% of the arsenic is reduced. While it may sound like a bother, getting in the habit of soaking your grains before you eat them is a good habit to get into. Traditionally known as sprouting, this method has many health benefits and has been used for centuries. Sprouting is a way to reduce the phytic acid in grains. Phytic Acid has been linked to an increase in cavities and dental decay.
If you don’t have time to soak your rice there are other methods that will reduce the arsenic. Just by cooking your rice with the five to one water ratio you can half the amount of arsenic. Make sure to rinse off the water you cooked it in though. Rinsing your rice well will reduce the arsenic at least by a little, so it never hurts to make that a habit in your rice making routine also.
Is it possible to buy rice without arsenic? And how did it get in there anyway? Arsenic is actually a natural element. It is found many places in our environment. Because of the way that rice is farmed it allows the arsenic in the soil to be released, thus making rice one of the highest arsenic laden foods we consume. Farming practices can help reduce the amount of arsenic but it is not something that has been heavily regulated. However, in our fast becoming gluten free world, it is concerning that so little attention is being paid to this issue. The highest concern is the amount of rice we give to our young children. Rice Cereal is often the first food fed to babies, and often in large quantities. If you like to eat brown rice, usually considered to be a healthier option, you will actually be getting even more arsenic. This is because the bran is not removed from brown rice, which contains higher concentrations of arsenic.
So next time you reach for the rice, or rice milk, or rice filled gluten free alternative, use a little more caution. It might not be as safe as you think.