Over the past several years, reports have come out showing that there are concerning levels of inorganic arsenic in rice that we buy, cook and eat.
Consumer Reports in 2012 found varying levels of inorganic arsenic in about 200 rice products. Brown rice was found to have the highest concentration of inorganic arsenic.
Arsenic is released into the soil from fertilizers and pesticides. Rice plants tend to absorb more arsenic as it grows than most other crops. So there is usually more inorganic arsenic found in rice.
The FDA is proposing a limit about 100 parts per billion for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal.
Not much is known about how regular consumption of inorganic arsenic affects people. There have been some studies that link arsenic exposure to increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
So how do you clean out the arsenic in rice?
It’s not that hard, and the way most people cook rice should already clean out some of the arsenic.
First, you can select rice that are already know to have lower levels of inorganic arsenic. Rice like Thai jasmine or Indian basmati are known to have lower levels than many U.S.-grown rice. Also, rice grown in the southern U.S. may have less inorganic arsenic than those grown in California. Organic rice are considered to have lower levels of inorganic arsenic.
Washing Your Rice
Washing is important to clean out the arsenic.
You should first wash the rice in water until the water runs clear. It’s even better to soak the rice overnight first, and then wash the rice before cooking.
When cooking, use about 5 or 6 parts of water to 1 part rice. Just pour out the excess water after the rice is cooked.
For those thorough folks, you can step it a couple steps further. Rinse the cooked rice in a strainer with hot water. Then put the rice back in the pot, place a kitchen towel between the lid and pot, and let the rice dry for 10 to 15 minutes.
These steps should wash clean away about 80 percent of the inorganic arsenic in the rice.
Finally, just enjoy your delicious rice!
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