Lately there has been a lot of publicity about unsafe arsenic levels in rice and poultry due to a report from Consumer Reports. This is very disconcerting to hear, especially if you have only heard of arsenic as a poison. It actually is a metal, frequently found in our food and our water in both inorganic and organic forms. But arsenic, especially inorganic arsenic, is a carcinogen that increases the risk of bladder, lung and skin cancer. It also has been linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In utero exposure may damage the baby’s immune system.
Arsenic is found in dirt and water, but of course mankind has added to the problem through arsenic-based insecticides and factory farming methods. Factory farms have been feeding arsenic based food additives to poultry through the FDA recently revoked three of these. They warn, however, that the supplies on hand for many of these operations will last a year, giving us another reason to eat organic chicken.
High arsenic levels in rice are attributed to the irrigation water and the dirt in which it is grown. Consumer Reports’ 2012 investigation, combined with the FDA study in 2013, and the latest 2014 investigation by Consumer Reports covers the level of arsenic in 697 rice samples and 114 samples of other grains.
Consumer Reports states, “White basmati rice from California, India, and Pakistan, and sushi rice from the U.S. on average has half of the inorganic-arsenic amount of most other types of rice.”
But other states in the U.S. did not fare as well. “All types of rice (except sushi and quick cooking) with a label indicating that it’s from Arkansas, Louisiana, or Texas or just from the U.S. had the highest levels of inorganic arsenic in our tests.”
Arsenic levels are higher in brown rice (80% on average) because the arsenic accumulates in the outer layers (the bran and the germ), which are removed when rice is milled to make white rice.
Consumer Reports recommends the following: “Brown basmati from California, India, or Pakistan is the best choice; it has about a third less inorganic arsenic than other brown rices.”
Due to these findings, Consumer Reports and the FDA recommend eating a wide variety of grains rather than designing a diet with rice as a main staple. High levels of arsenic were found in processed rice products such as rice cakes, cracker, pasta, and dairy alternative products. They suggest small children should not be fed rice milk. Consumer reports recommends limiting rice intake using a point system. See the link below for details.
You can reduce the amount of arsenic in your rice by thoroughly rinsing it before cooking it and by cooking it in large amounts of water (6 cups of water to one cup of rice) – the traditional Asian way of cooking rice. This method does however decrease the nutritional value as it loses vitamins and other nutrients in the water. These two practices are said to reduce the arsenic content by 30%
While arsenic in food is a concern, it gives us one more reason to focus on the best possible diet, which is 80% raw produce, eaten with naturally chelating foods such as garlic and cilantro. Eating this way helps us remove heavy metals from our bodies on a daily basis through the foods we eat.
To learn more about a healthy diet read What Really Is a Healthy Diet. If you are a big rice eater or you have been eating conventional poultry, you regularly drink beer or wine, you eat dark meat fish, or regularly eat Brussels sprouts, this is a good time to flush out that arsenic with the Cheap and Easy Detox Diet Plan. To remove heavy metals from your body, check out the recommended supplements, and the articles, How To Detoxify From Vaccinations & Heavy Metals & Top 5 foods that detox heavy metals and toxins.
- How To Detoxify From Vaccinations & Heavy Metals
- Top 5 foods that detox heavy metals and toxins
- Total Nutrition – Make Your Own Homemade Multivitamin and Mineral Formula
- How much arsenic is in your rice? – ConsumerReports.org
- 5 Foods You Should Maybe Not Eat All the Time – Rodale News