Could I Actually Be Eating Too Much Arsenic?? Here’s Why Taking A Look At Rice Intake Is A Must!

     With all of the never-ending (and sometimes conflicting) diet-related news in the media these days, it can be difficult to know which stories really matter—and that should be (or not be!) taken seriously. 

     Well, this is one I’m taking very seriously… especially now that it has become necessary for me to be ‘gluten-free’ for the sake of my health & well-being…. A story that circulated through the news several months ago, stemming from the Consumer Reports’ article on arsenic in rice [“How much arsenic is in your rice” ], but as the months roll on and other diet news takes stage, it can be easy to forget about this important issue over time. 

     And, lately, I couldn’t help but notice how my own rice intake seemed to be creeping up on me [rather than down!], particularly by way of ‘hidden’ sources… So I thought it could be time for a little review, for us all, right now.  Therefore, if rice products are a regular part of your life, too, I would like to encourage you to take the time to view this simple video—which explains it all very nicely, titled “Why your child should eat less rice’, though the information is very pertinent to us adults as well!  Then, below video here, I have also included some modified excerpts from Consumer Reports [CR] article to highlight several Questions/Answers [key points] for us.

      Ever more reason today why eating ‘a wide VARIETY of foods’ is WISE to do!!  

Basic Questions/Answers for review, incorporating modified excerpts from the Consumer Reports’ article (noted above), are as follows:

Where does arsenic come from?  Arsenic is naturally part of the minerals in the earth’s crust; however, arsenic has also been released into the environment [into soil & water] through the use of pesticides and poultry fertilizer [yes, chickens can be fed arsenic!]. 

Why so much focus on rice?  Rice tends to absorb arsenic more readily than many other plants.  And there is no federal limit for arsenic in rice & rice product [thus far]!

Why the big concern… Why might low ‘doses’ of this type of arsenic on an ongoing basis matter?  Regular exposure to small amounts of arsenic can increase the risk of certain cancers (such as bladder, lung, and skin cancer, plus possibly kidney, liver, prostate), as well as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It might also be tied to reproductive problems and a compromised immune system.  Recent studies suggest that arsenic exposure in utero may have effects on the baby’s immune system.

Why is this information especially important for ‘gluten avoiders’?  Because rice is a commonly-eaten gluten-free grain that is also used by manufacturers within a wide variety of gluten-free products, including certain pastas, crackers, cereals, cake/brownie & muffin mixes.

[For example, the gluten-free pretzels (by ‘Glutino’) that are in my pantry right now, as well as the gluten-free multi-grain crackers (by Crunchmaster), plus my gluten-free pasta (by Barilla) there, all contain rice!]

Are there any ways, or ‘nicer’ rices, to help cut exposure? Yes, there are. CR found great variations in arsenic content depending on type of rice and where grown: “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.”

On the other hand, according to CR: “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… White rices from California have 38 percent less inorganic arsenic than white rices from other parts of the country.”  And brown rice generally has much more arsenic than white because the arsenic accumulates in outer layers of the grain; however, totally switching to white only is not what’s being said though… Consider brown basmati from California, India, or Pakistan as best brown choice then.

Thoroughly rinsing any type of raw rice prior to cooking may be of some help.

Note: Do not count on ‘organically grown’ rice to have less arsenic.

Rice_CRM_Arsenic_Test_tubes_Page-41

[Source: Consumer Reports]

For further details, refer to Consumer Reports’ article, including ‘new rice rules’ for keeping track of weekly exposure [a point-system for children and for adults—with a recommended limit of 7 points per week, as indicated by chart below].  Dose (portion size) and the frequency of exposure (number of times per week) matter.Rice_CRM_Arsenic_Chart_Page-42_01-15

     It can all add up over time… the rice side-dishes, rice soups, rice cereals, rice cakes, rice crackers, rice drinks, rice syrup, rice flour, rice-based gluten-free products…!  So how about finally giving those other wholesome grains more of a try now?? …several of which are gluten-free, too—such as: amaranth, buckwheat, millet, cornmeal, and quinoa.  Gluten-containing options can include: bulgur, barley, and faro. 

     Lots for us to enjoy & be nourished by!  Take care.

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One thought on “Could I Actually Be Eating Too Much Arsenic?? Here’s Why Taking A Look At Rice Intake Is A Must!

  1. Pingback: In The News: “Arsenic Found in Many U.S. Red Wines, but health risks depend on total diet” | The Way to Nourish for Life!

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