Apparently so. Did you know that rice often contains ten times more inorganic arsenic than other foods? This bad news was revealed in a compelling Consumer Reports study in 2012. (View the full report HERE.)
According to the European Food Standards Authority, people who consume a lot of rice are exposed to concentrations of inorganic arsenic that are worrisome. A myriad of health issues are caused by this chronic exposure including heart disease, diabetes, nervous system damage, developmental issues (especially in children under 5), lung cancer and bladder cancer.
One of the most troubling truths about this health threat is its impact on children. Many children start off eating rice porridge as it is low in allergens. Unfortunately, this intake can adversely affect the development of babies as they are known to be more susceptible than adults. Babies and children have a three times greater risk of exposure to toxic ingredients found in food items as compared to adults. Although the UK Food Standards Agency declared that children under the age of four-and-a-half should not drink rice milk because of its high inorganic arsenic levels, more needs to be done. Both Europe and the US must take bolder steps to educate the public and regulate the inorganic arsenic levels in these products as the risk to public health is severe.
Here are some additional facts and bits of invaluable information about the inorganic arsenic in rice:
- Brown rice has more arsenic than white rice.
Brown rice has 80 percent more inorganic arsenic on average than white rice. This is due to the higher concentrations of inorganic arsenic in the grain’s outer layers, which are removed to make white rice.
- The level of arsenic in rice varies greatly depending on where the rice is grown.
White basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan as well as sushi rice from the United States have much lower arsenic levels than other types. Brown basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan has about one third less arsenic than brown rice from other areas of the world.
- 3. Rice has higher arsenic levels than other grains because of the way the rice plant grows.
Rice absorbs more water than other plants during its growing cycle, allowing the arsenic that is released into the environment through fertilizers and pesticides to infiltrate the plant. Since rice absorbs more water than other plants, it also absorbs more arsenic as well.
- 4. Inorganic arsenic isn’t exclusive to the grain, it appears in rice-based products as well.
All forms of rice, including rice milk, puffed rice snacks, and gluten-free flours and products contain rice. The recent report found that rice cereal and rice pasta can have much more of the carcinogenic inorganic arsenic than the 2012 data originally showed.
If you’d like more information, check out these articles concerning inorganic arsenic in rice and the dangers it poses to health and wellness.
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