Consumer Reports Reveals More Arsenic in Rice Products

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Consumer Reports Reveals More Arsenic in Rice Products
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Consumer Reports Reveals More Arsenic in Rice Products

An updated report from Consumer Reports reveals higher levels of arsenic in rice products than originally thought. Find out how you can lower your risk.

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The type of rice and where it was grown makes a huge difference. According to Consumer Reports, white basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan, and sushi rice from the United States contain half the amount of inorganic arsenic of most other types of rice on average.

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Rice labeled from Arkansas, Louisiana or Texas or marked from the U.S. tend to have the highest inorganic arsenic levels, reports Consumer Reports.

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Surprisingly, brown rice has more inorganic arsenic than white rice of the same type—by a whopping 80 percent! This is because the outer layers of white rice, where arsenic accumulates, are removed.

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Still, brown rice is more nutritious than white rice. Consumer Reports recommends choosing brown basmati rice from California, India or Pakistan, which have less inorganic arsenic than other brown rices by a third.

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For gluten-free alternatives, grains like amaranth, buckwheat, millet and polenta or grits were among the best, while popular quinoa rated about average.

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Low levels of inorganic arsenic were found in bulgur, barley and farro, which contain gluten. Overall, alternative grains had significantly less arsenic than rice.

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Another important finding is that washing your rice with water, using a ratio of 6 cups of water to one cup of rice, can remove about 30 percent of the inorganic arsenic!

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Following up on their November 2012 report about the "worrisome" levels of arsenic in rice products, Consumer Reports released an update this month that reveals rice products commonly eaten by children and infants, like rice cereal and rice pasta, contain even more inorganic arsenic, which is a carcinogen, than originally thought, putting young individuals at greater risk of exposure. Long-term exposure to arsenic can lead to bladder, lung, and skin cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Based on the new findings, Consumer Reports found one serving of rice cereal or rice pasta exceeds the recommended weekly limit of rice for kids, and one serving of rice cakes is close to this limit.

The report also found that the amount of arsenic in rice can vary depending on the type of rice and where it is grown, and alternative grains like amaranth, buckwheat and barley contain negligible or less inorganic arsenic than rice. Time reports that rice absorbs higher amounts of arsenic than other grains, and the arsenic enters the water and soil from pesticides and poultry fertilizer.

There are currently no federal limits of arsenic in most foods, reports Time.

Check out the slideshow above to learn how you can lower your exposure to arsenic in rice.

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