Rice and arsenic content - VeggieBoards

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#1 Old 09-02-2017, 05:58 PM
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Rice and arsenic content

A couple of weeks ago, prominent vegan physician Dr. Michael Greger did several videos on this topic.

I cross-checked this topic on the websites of the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, and the United Nations (see links below), and they confirm that this is a real thing, though not as dangerous as certain websites may claim.

Arsenic is present in all foods, to some degree. Long-term exposure to higher levels of arsenic is associated with higher rates of skin, bladder and lung cancers, as well as heart disease.

Also, although rice is getting most of the publicity relative to this topic, elevated arsenic levels are also present in seafood, poultry, and mushrooms. The reason why so much attention is focused on rice is because it's a staple food for a huge percentage of the world's population, and because rice foods are fed to infants and young children.

The American Cancer Society and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration confirm that that (1) arsenic is a naturally-occurring element in the soil, (2) arsenic pollution also results from industrial activities, (3) rice tends to absorb higher levels of arsenic than do other crops, (4) arsenic levels are the same between organic and non-organic rice.

To reduce the arsenic in rice, the U.S. Food & Drug Adminstration recommends cooking rice with more water than is normally used, cooking the rice until it's ready, and then draining the excess water (the same way that pasta is cooked). See U.S. FDA's webpage below. Also, they advise that you can reduce your exposure by varying your grains more. This is especially important for infants being fed on rice foods and formula.

The American Cancer Society's webpage on arsenic in foods: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer...s/arsenic.html

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has published a webpage on this topic: https://www.fda.gov/food/foodborneil.../ucm319948.htm

The United Nations' webpage on arsenic in rice: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57193
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“Under the twinkling trees was a table covered with Guatemalan fabric, roses in juice jars, wax rose candles from Tijuana and plates of food — Weetzie's Vegetable Love-Rice, My Secret Agent Lover Man's guacamole, Dirk's homemade pizza, Duck's fig and berry salad and Surfer Surprise Protein Punch, Brandy-Lynn's pink macaroni, Coyote's cornmeal cakes, Ping's mushu plum crepes and Valentine's Jamaican plantain pie."

from Witch Baby, Francesca Lia Block, 1991

Last edited by David3; 09-03-2017 at 07:00 AM.
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#2 Old 09-15-2017, 10:36 AM
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Also, the level of arsenic in rice depends to a significant degree on the level of arsenic in the soil where it's grown. So California grown rice generally has lower amounts of arsenic than rice grown in the southern U.S., where the soil has been more contaminated for various reasons. So ... good news for California rice growers I guess. I also have read the tip about using lots of water in cooking rice, then draining, then rinsing again. This apparently cuts down significantly on the arsenic, so worth doing, probably.


Even with all the talk (and evidence) about arsenic in rice, Southeast Asian countries, and the Chinese, and the Japanese, all showed very good health for quite a long time eating rice as the most basic staple of their diets, so personally, I'm not ready to ditch it. Maybe just exercise a bit more caution with it.
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#3 Old 09-16-2017, 11:12 AM
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I watched the whole series too, David, and other than doing more rigorous rinsing I don't think we will change our habits too much.

I will be careful about where the rice is grown and as we usually only have it once or twice a week I am not too concerned. We live a few kilometres from a steel plant and so it is likely there is more pollution that is toxic to us, in the air, than in our rice. I do always appreciate Dr Greger's videos.

Emma JC
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