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How to Protect Your Family From Arsenic in Rice
January 8, 2015
How to Protect Your Family from Arsenic in Rice
By Dr Corinne Harpster, ND, Naturopathic Physician at SageMED in the Factoria area of Bellevue, WA
There have been ongoing concerns about the amount of arsenic found in such foods as rice and rice products as well as juices such as apple juice. Rice products and apple juice are often fed to children on a large scale and as children are still developing they are at greater risk from arsenic, a known carcinogen.
Currently there is no federal limit for arsenic levels in foods, so it is hard to say how much is too much, but the FDA does reiterate over and over again that people should have a varied diet with several different forms of grains and that pregnant women and children should be especially careful of overconsumption of rice products.
The FDA had this to say regarding infant rice cereal: “Infant rice cereal has been used for many years because it is gluten-free and rarely causes allergic reactions. Parents should follow the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and feed their infants and toddlers a variety of grains as part of a well-balanced diet.”
White rice has been found lower in arsenic than brown rice.
Rice from California has been found to be lower in arsenic than rice from other areas.
Cook rice the way you cook pasta: using 5 to 6 times the amount of water as you would rice and boiling it until soft and draining off the excess water will help reduce the arsenic up to 50%. This will probably lower the nutritional value of the rice through removal of the water-soluble B vitamins.
The more processed the rice the higher the arsenic content: rice milks, rice crackers, rice cakes and rice syrups are all higher in arsenic content than plain rice.
As a person who avoids gluten for health reasons this is especially concerning for me. One of my favorite snacks is rice crackers and cheese. While I still have rice crackers on a now and then basis I have also started just eating a small handful of nuts or slices of fruit with my cheese. Other ideas are homemade crackers, check out some recipes here.
Make sure to take a look at your diet and the diet of your child: how much rice are you really getting and where is that rice coming from? In the end it comes down to what I often say to my patients: don’t try to replace your processed food with OTHER processed food, try to replace it with natural foods such as vegetables, fruits, proteins and whole grains.
Dr Corinne Harpster is a Naturopathic Physician at SageMED in the Factoria area of Bellevue, WA. She has extensive training in nutrition and is currently taking new patients.