- Rice, especially brown rice, is known to absorb arsenic, a chemical that might lead to health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes with long-term exposure.
- The arsenic levels in rice can vary depending on the variety and the location where it’s grown. To minimize exposure, it’s advised to choose white and brown basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan, as well as sushi rice grown in the United States.
- Including a variety of whole grains in your diet such as whole wheat, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, polenta, and grits can also help to minimize arsenic exposure.
- It’s crucial to check the labels of food products thoroughly. Ingredients like rice, rice flour, or brown rice syrup could contribute to arsenic exposure.
- High arsenic content in foods based on rice for infants and children has led to health advisories against serving them rice-based drinks and limiting their rice cereal intake.
Rice, a staple food for many, unfortunately carries a hidden risk that isn’t easily detected on its labels – the presence of the chemical arsenic.
This risk factor does not result from immediate poisoning; rather, chronic exposure to trace amounts of arsenic heightens the risk for health conditions such as bladder, lung and skin cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Arsenic naturally resides in our soil and water due to its presence in the Earth’s crust. It can also accumulate from the use of certain pesticides and fertilizers.
Among many plants, rice is particularly prone to arsenic absorption. Brown rice, although generally beneficial for health, unfortunately contains the highest amounts of arsenic. This chemical tends to gather in the outer layers, which are usually removed during the production of white rice.
However, it’s important to note that complete elimination of rice from your diet is unnecessary. Instead, cautious selection is advised.
Limiting Arsenic Exposure through Rice Consumption
Consumer tests have revealed that arsenic levels can vary significantly depending upon the rice variety and its cultivation area. Here are a few tips to mitigate arsenic exposure through rice consumption:
- Choose white and brown basmati rice grown in California, India, and Pakistan, as well as sushi rice grown in the United States.
- Introduce a variety of whole grains to your diet to minimize arsenic exposure. Try whole wheat, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, polenta, and grits.
- Check the labels of all food products thoroughly. Ingredients like rice, rice flour, or brown rice syrup may be present in an array of foods, right from gluten-free products to teething biscuits.
Children and Arsenic Exposure
High arsenic profiles in foods based on rice given to infants and children has led health experts to advise against serving them rice-based drinks and limiting their rice cereal intake.
Reports have suggested that even one serving of rice cakes could be close to a child’s weekly arsenic limit. Similarly, one serving of rice cereal and rice pasta could potentially exceed the maximum arsenic allowance.
FDA Guidelines on Arsenic in Rice
For further insight on this issue, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a comprehensive position statement on arsenic in rice, including guidelines on limiting infants’ exposure.