Celiac Support Association

How to cook rice and reduce arsenic content? 

  1. Rinse uncooked rice under running water until water runs clear before cooking in usual way or methods below. Do not soak rice.
  2. Percolating raw rice rinses out the soluble arsenic while the the water percolates through the rice. Allow approximated 12 minutes for percolating 1/2 cup dry white rice. Fill a percolator with water to the 12 cup level with 1/2 to 1 cup rice in the brew basket. Plug in the percolator and wait, remove rice after brewing process and discard the arsenic laden water.  To directions page
  3. Steam rice. Rinse raw rice well, to limit reabsorbing arsenic released into the water.  
  4. Cook rice in a water ratio similar to pasta, 6-10 parts water to 1 part rice. Remove cooked rice from the pan, rinse the cooked rice, reheat by steaming or in microwave if necessary.  

    Basmati, jasmine or California-grown white rice are less affected than other rice varieties or brown rice. 

    Best practices.

    Vary the grains eaten daily. Try corn, soy, sorghum, quinoa, millet, buckwheat in place of rice (always verify gluten-free status because of cross-contamination). Use more gluten-free replacement foods that do not contain rice flour, or at least contain rice flour as one of the last ingredients not the first ingredient on the label.

Why is arsenic in food?

Arsenic is absorbed from soil and water in plant-based foods. Soil and water contain arsenic from erosion of arsenic-containing rocks, contamination from mining, and past use of arsenic-containing pesticides. Arsenic based pesticides are now banned, however arsenic contamination of the soil persists. Rice takes arsenic from water and soil as the plant absorbs phosphate necessary for growth. Arsenic and phosphate are similar in chemical structure. In part because rice is grown underwater it absorbs 10 times more arsenic than other cereal grains. Researchers from the University of Delaware have found that a simple soil microbe can prevent arsenic uptake in rice plants. Their work through a 1.9 million dollar grant will help reduce the amount of arsenic in rice in the future

The Threat of Arsenic

Ansenic levels in water are regulated, but not in food. How the toxicity in water and food compare is not fully known.  Assess your personal risk based upon your location and eating habits.  Are you  eating a variety of foods? Are you actively reading labels?  The risk of arsenic in rice varies by the region it is grown, the variety and other growing practices.  Rice grown in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas tend to have higher levels of arsenic.  These are likely the results of mineral deposits from the soils and rivers, coupled with the practices of flooding rice fields and using arsenic in the past to control the boll weevil in cotton fields.

Help CSA find grant money to independently fund tests for arsenic levels in a representative number of children and older adults with celiac disease.  It could be extended to include some people with non-celiac gluten related disorders. And test food products for presence of arsenic.  Please help us in this effort.

1 Food and Drug Administration, Arsenic   http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Metals/ucm319948.htm

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