Q & A - How Can I Avoid Arsenic In Rice?

Small amounts of arsenic can be found in almost everything you eat. Rice, which is grown in water, contains higher amounts because it takes up arsenic from soil and water more readily than other grains. White rice has less arsenic than brown rice because the extra processing removes some.

To completely avoid the arsenic in rice you have to stop eating rice and anything made from rice. Foods like rice milk, rice cereals, and brown rice syrup are also sources of arsenic exposure.

Instead of rice try low arsenic grains. Farro, is a favorite of mine because it has the same density and chewy texture as rice.

Easy Crockpot Veggie Farro

For every cup of Farro add 2 cups of water to your crockpot. Add chopped organic mushrooms, onions and peppers and cook on high for 2 hours.
During the last half hour add fresh spinach. For a complete meal add garbonzo beans or cooked chicken.
For a  risotta-like farro use 2 1/2 cups of water per cup of farro. Cook 2 hours on high and an hour on low (or until all liquid is absorbed).

Other healthy options to replace rice include: Barley, couscous and bulgur wheat. To avoid gluten, consider amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, oats, cornmeal, grits and polenta.

If you don't want to give up eating rice you can reduce the arsenic in rice 2 ways.

  1. The amount of arsenic in rice varies widely. Choose lower arsenic varieties. This means white rice instead of brown. Short grain instead of long grain. And because arsenic pesticides were used to grow cotton, avoid any rice grown in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

  2. Cook your rice like pasta. With lots of water. The larger the water-rice cooking ratio, the more arsenic will be removed. Cooking 1 cup of rice in 12 cups of water will reduce arsenic by 57%. Be sure to rinse the rice first until the water is clear.

A more complex rice cooking procedure involves using a coffee pot. You fill the filter with rice and run water through the pot twice or two 10 minute cycles. This method removes 50% to 85% of arsenic from brown and white rice. I wouldn’t recommend this method because cooking in plastic is a bad idea. You could use a large stainless steel coffee urn.