Arsenic in Rice: What You Should Know

First it was juice, now it’s the rice! Recent reports revealing the amount of arsenic in our food is alarming to say the least. Consumer Reports and the US Food and Drug Administration both released reports last Wednesday revealing how much arsenic is present in rice as well as rice products. Both analyzed 200 samples from popular rice brand products for both brown and white rice. The results showed that many brands contained more arsenic than the Environmental Protection Agency allows in drinking water. Even more surprising is brown rice had higher levels of the toxin than white rice. 

Arsenic, when present in high levels, is poisonous to humans and has been linked to cancer and heart disease in adults. For children, too much arsenic can lead to lower IQ’s and other cognitive and health issues. The problem is, researchers don’t know the long-term effects of arsenic in food but are advising people to not cut rice out of their diets completely. “Our advice right now is that consumers should continue to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of grains -- not only for good nutrition but also to minimize any potential consequences from consuming any one particular food,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg said in a statement.

So with all the negative media surrounding rice, what’s a girl to eat? Since rice is a staple for many Latin dishes, these 5 simple steps can help you lessen the amount of arsenic in your rice so you can still cook those delicious authentic dishes. 

Step One

Before cooking your rice, place the un-cooked rice that you are planning the eat in a large, (preferably glass) bowl.

Step Two

Add three times the amount of water to the rice that you placed in the bowl.

Step Three

Place your hand in the bowl and move the rice around until the water begins to look murky.

Step Four 

Pour out the dirty water and repeat each step until the water runs clear.

Step Five

Cook your rice in six cups of water to one cup of rice. The excess water helps absorb the water, which helps reduce the amount of arsenic in the rice.

And if you must eat rice everyday, consider using Thai Jasmine rice from Thailand or Basmati rice from India for your dishes, as studies show those contained the least amount of arsenic.