Arsenic is naturally found in our soil and arsenic has been released into the environment through the use of pesticides and fertilizer. Arsenic is a known carcinogen. According to Consumer Reports, regular exposure to small amounts of arsenic can increase the risk of bladder, lung, and skin cancer. Rice, unfortunately, tends to absorb arsenic much more readily than other plants. Additionally, the FDA is unaware of any data that show a difference in the amount of arsenic found in organic versus conventionally grown rice. Brown rice has 80% more arsenic on average than white rice of the same type. This is because arsenic accumulates in the gran’s outer layers which are removed to make white rice. But, brown rice also has more nutrients and fiber than white rice.
You may be able to cut your exposure to arsenic in any type of rice by rinsing raw rice thoroughly before cooking using a ratio of 6 cups of water to 1 cup of rice and draining the excess water afterwards. So, again, the question becomes how much rice or how many rice cakes can I safely eat?
Consumer Reports used an analysis to assign a point value to types of rice foods and recommends eating no more than 7 points per week. Children, infants, and pregnant women should eat less!
White Basmati Rice – 1 1/4 uncooked cups/wk
All other rice – 1/2 cup uncooked per week
Rice cakes – 5 or 6 per week
Rice crackers – 5 or 6 svgs. per week of 17 crackers
Snack bars with brown rice syrup – 5 or 6 per week
I suggest that you pick your favorite rice products and eliminate the others. For example, I will skip the brown rice, and rice cakes, and go with 5 svgs. of rice crackers per week. Remember that brown rice syrup is often found in cookies, pizza mix, cake mix and muffin mixes. Please be diligent in checking products for rice and brown rice syrup and try some other grains like farro, couscous, millet, and bulgur. Quinoa is a seed not a grain, and can often be used in place of rice. Keep an eye on my Facebook page for more recipes using different grains!