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Article: Arsenic on the Side? How to reduce natural arsenic levels in this staple food.

Updated: Aug 27, 2023


Rice is a versatile and widely consumed grain in many cultures around the world. However, recent studies have highlighted concerns about the natural presence of arsenic in rice (even organic rice!), which can be harmful to human health when consumed in large amounts over extended periods. Fortunately, there are several methods available to decrease arsenic levels when cooking rice, ensuring a safer and healthier meal for you and your loved ones. If you're a rice lover like I am, here are a few tips for reducing arsenic in this popular grain.


1. Choose the Right Rice. Not all rice varieties have the same level of arsenic content. Basmati rice from India, Pakistan, and California, as well as sushi rice from Japan, tend to have lower levels of arsenic compared to other varieties. It is advisable to opt for these types of rice when possible to reduce your exposure.


2. Rinse Thoroughly. Rinsing rice before cooking helps remove some of the surface starch and excess contaminants, including arsenic. Take a cup of rice and place it in a sieve or fine-mesh colander. Rinse it under running water while stirring for about 2-3 minutes until the water runs clear. This simple step does help somewhat to reduce the arsenic content.


3. Cook With Extra Water. By far, the best method for lowering arsenic levels in cooked rice is by cooking with a higher water-to-rice ratio and draining the excess water afterward. This technique has been proven effective in reducing arsenic levels. Instead of using the usual 1:2 ratio (1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water), employ a 1:6 ratio when cooking rice. Once cooked, drain the excess water using a colander and gently rinse the rice with hot water. This can eliminate about 30% of arsenic content.

4. Soak Rice Overnight. Another method that can further reduce the arsenic content is to soak the rice overnight. Place the desired amount of rice in a bowl or pot, fill it with enough warm water to fully submerge the rice, and let it sit for at least 8 hours. Before cooking, rinse the soaked rice thoroughly and cook it with extra water as mentioned in Tip #3.

5. Consider Parboiled or Precooked Rice. Parboiled or precooked rice undergoes a special process that partially boils the rice in the husk, which allows it to retain more nutrients and reduce arsenic levels. If available, this type of rice is a good option to minimize your arsenic exposure without compromising taste or texture.


6. Variety is the spice of life! Reducing your reliance on rice as the primary carbohydrate source can help to limit your overall arsenic intake. Incorporate other grains like quinoa, bulgur, millet, or couscous into your diet to create a well-rounded meal plan, as well as to make your gut microbiome happy with a wider variety of whole grains.


With increasing concerns about arsenic content in rice, it is important to take necessary precautions while cooking this beloved staple. By adopting the mentioned techniques such as rinsing thoroughly, using extra water, soaking overnight, and choosing certain rice varieties, it is possible to reduce the arsenic levels significantly. Additionally, incorporating a variety of grains in your diet will undoubtedly contribute to a healthier lifestyle. By following these steps, you can continue to enjoy your favorite rice dishes while ensuring the safety and well-being of yourself and your loved ones.


Now, if you'll excuse me... I've got some rice on the stove!


Peace, wellness and bon appétit!

- Cindy


P.S. Check out our recipe for the photo above - Tex-Mex Beans & Rice - It makes a delicious stuffing for crunchy tacos!

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