Monday, 19 January 2015

Misconceptions About Rice

With all foods in our diet, we always hear the potential 'risks', 'dangers' and 'avoids'. Well it's up to you how you feel with facts and statements however, it's always worth a read. How safe is our rice?

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As a consumer of white and brown rice in my family, I wanted to know exactly what all this talk was about. Recent studies have shown concerning results of arsenic containing rice products. These include rice cakes, white and brown rice, baby rice cereal and rice cereals. When you prepare rice, do you do it the correct way? If at all? Do you remember to wash your fruit, vegetables and other items that have not been sourced from your home? As we are on the subject of rice, we need to understand the importance of washing/preparing food properly and consuming the right amounts.

What is Arsenic and what are the dangers?

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in water and soil. As rice is grown in paddies surrounded by lots of water, it is easily targeted than plants grown in drier soil. Farmer's use arsenic-based pesticides to control bugs. Arsenic is mistakenly absorbed by plants because of it's structure so this means it is replaced by necessary nutrients. Other heavy metals such as lead or mercury can stay in soil for years once applied on crops.
The most concerning thing I found whilst researching arsenic is that it is a potent carcinogen which can affect and harm a child's developing brain.

Important Facts

Rice cakes and other rice products are marketed as 'health foods', a natural reason why I purchase rice cakes for the family. I understand that we are told many health risks however, arsenic being a highly dangerous element for the human body I will most probably avoid. This said, you don't have to change your rice consumption as long as you vary it in your diet.
High levels of arsenic exposure can lead to serious health risks such a cancer and lung disease.

Confused, do I give up rice?

Simple answer, no. This post is to understand the dangers of arsenic and the potential risks. As long as you realise that preparing rice (washing), cooking then pour boiled water over it, you have decreased the risks of arsenic in your body. The levels are relatively low (adults) however if you have children like myself, I would recommend to avoid rice based products that contain high levels of arsenic, or none at all. Another important factor is that introduce varied grains especially if you eat rice often. Note that oats and wheat have lower levels of arsenic in them.
If you are pregnant I would also recommend lowering the amount of rice products in your diet.


In my family we are always trying new foods, mainly vegetables, meat and potatoes. In regards to grains, we will continue to use them however prepare properly and little and often just like with anything else. My son will no longer be eating rice cakes as I can simply replace these with a yoghurt or a piece of fruit.
I hope you can take some of this information with you and understand the dangers around us that can be avoided using proper instructions.

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