For many of us, rice is a staple food that we eat every other day. But did you know that rice is one of the most common sources of inorganic arsenic?
Rice is known to take up much more arsenic from the soil or water compared to other crops as it is cultivated in water-flooded conditions, enabling arsenic to be absorbed more easily. According to Consumer Reports, substantial amounts of arsenic was detected in nearly all 223 samples of rice products (included brown, white, parboiled, jasmine, basmati, and other types of rice).
So what’s the big deal about arsenic? Arsenic naturally occurs in the earth’s crust and is present in the air, water and land. Its inorganic form is very poisonous and is recognised as a carcinogen. Exposure to large amounts of inorganic arsenic in the long term can cause skin lesions, pigmentation changes and hyperkeratosis, which may be a precursor to skin cancer. Other negative health effects such as cardiovascular disease, developmental effects, diabetes and pulmonary disease have also been observed.
So What Should You Do?
Experts have recommended the public to:
Step 1: Soak the rice overnight
Step 2: Drain and rinse the rice really well with fresh water
Step 3: Cook one part rice with five parts water
Soaking rice will enable arsenic to pass into the water since it is water-soluble. They found that this strategy can lower the levels of arsenic found in the rice by up to 82%!