Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Is That Arsenic In My Rice- New studies find high levels in rice products

I love rice- it's easily digested, one of the least allergenic foods that exist, and just plain yummy. I love the chewy, nutty flavor of brown rice, the aromatic taste of basmati, and there's nothing like a good, creamy rice pudding. And since some think that too much soy is not good for you, I have taken to using rice milk with my cereal. Now all that might change since we are now being told that rice has arsenic levels that, in some cases, exceeds what the FDA claims is okay for a quart of water. That's not good, since arsenic is a poison that in large quantities can kill (think that old dandy play "Arsenic and Old Lace"). It can also cause cancer, skin and nervous system problems, along with stomach troubles (including nausea, vomiting, pain, diarrhea), diabetes, anemia, high blood pressure, blood vessel damage among other things.

Oddly enough it occurs naturally in our soil, and although the FDA has standards for the amount of arsenic allowed in water, it does not set limits for food.

We are privy to this information after studies were conducted by Consumer Reports, the FDA and the state attorney for Illinois, Lisa Madigan.  All the studies found high levels in all the foods that were tested from children's rice cereal products to brown rice syrup to, yes, my rice milk.

Although some are saying we shouldn't worry yet about the amounts we eat (that's mostly the rice industry and the FDA) others are saying we need to limit the amounts we eat.  Lisa Madigan said:

“First and foremost, I want to warn parents that every rice cereal product we tested contained arsenic. These results are shocking because rice cereal is often a baby’s first solid food. “Parents and caregivers should moderate the amount of rice products they feed their children.”

And if you think buying organic will make a difference, think again.  Arsenic was found in both organic and non-organic products.

Consumer Reports has this advice about eating rice:

Test your water. If your home is not on a public water system, have your water tested for arsenic and lead.
Change the way you cook rice. Boiling rice with more water than you need and draining it afterward removes about 30% of the inorganic arsenic. Try using a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 6 cups of water.
Eat a varied diet. Some vegetables accumulate arsenic when grown in contaminated soil. To help, clean vegetables thoroughly, especially potato skins.Eat other grains. Wheat and oats have lower levels of arsenic than rice. For those who need to eat gluten-free, quinoa, millet, and amaranth may be better options.

For more information on the subject, and to find out which are the worst offenders read this Consumer Reports article. Some of the worst:

“Among all tested rice, the highest levels of inorganic arsenic per serving were found in some samples of Martin Long Grain Brown rice, followed by Della Basmati Brown, Carolina Whole Grain Brown, Jazzmen Louisiana Aromatic Brown, and Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Long Grain Brown"

I actually eat cereal every other day, so I think I will also buy some soy milk and alternate using that with the rice milk.

I'm not a happy camper.

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