How to Cook Rice to Lower Arsenic Levels

How to Cook Rice to Lower Arsenic Levels
4.58 (91.61%) 62 votes

Boiling rice like pasta reduces arsenic levels, but how much nutrition is lost?

Discuss
Republish

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Cooking rice in a high water to rice ratio reduces [toxic] arsenic content”—meaning if you boil rice like pasta, and then drain off the water at the end, you can drop arsenic levels in half. 50 to 60 percent of the arsenic gets poured down the drain, whereas the typical way we make rice, boiling the water off like in a rice cooker or pot, doesn’t help. Or, may even make things worse, if the water you’re using to cook the rice has arsenic in it too—a problem that exists for about three million Americans, as about 8% of public water supplies exceed the current legal arsenic limits.

But “[c]ooking rice in excess water [and then discarding] efficiently reduces the amount of [toxic arsenic] in the cooked rice.” Yeah, but how much nutrition are you pouring down the drain when you do that? We didn’t know, until now.

“Unpolished brown rice naturally contains [nutrients] that are lost when the bran layer and germ are removed to make white rice. To compensate, since the 1940s,” white rice has had vitamins and minerals sprayed on it to quote-unquote “enrich it.” That’s why cooking instructions for white rice specifically say don’t rinse it, and cook it “in a minimal amount of water.” In other words, “the opposite” of what you’d do to get rid of some of the arsenic. But brown rice has the nutrients inside, not just sprayed on.

For example, “[r]insing [white] rice [—like putting it in a colander under running water—] removes much of the enriched vitamins sprayed onto the [white] rice…surface during manufacture,” removing most of the B vitamins, but has “almost no effect on vitamins in whole-grain brown rice,” because it’s got the nutrition inside. Same thing with iron: rinsing white rice reduces iron levels by like three-fourths, but the iron in brown rice is actually in it; and so, rinsing only reduces the iron concentration in brown rice by like 10%. But rinsing didn’t seem to affect the arsenic levels; so, why bother?

Now, if you really wash the rice, like agitate the uncooked rice in water for three minutes, and then rinse and repeat, you may be able to remove about 10% of the arsenic. And so, this research team recommends washing, as well as boiling in excess water. But I don’t know if the 10% is worth the extra wash time. But, boiling like pasta and then draining the excess water does really cut way down on the arsenic, and while that also takes a whack on the nutrition in white rice, the nutrient loss in brown rice is “significantly less,” as it is not so much enriched as it is rich in nutrition in the first place.

“Cooking brown rice in large amounts of excess water reduces the [toxic arsenic] by almost 60% and only reduces the [iron] content by 5%,” but does reduce “the vitamin content of brown rice by about half.” Here it is graphically. A quick rinse of brown rice before you cook it doesn’t lower arsenic levels, but boiling it instead of cooking to dry, and draining off the excess water drops arsenic levels 40%. That was using like six parts water to one part rice. What if you use even more water, boiling at 10:1 water to rice? A 60% drop in arsenic levels.

With white rice, you can rinse off a little arsenic, but after cooking, you end up with similar final drops in arsenic content. But the iron gets wiped out in white rice by rinsing and cooking, whereas the iron in brown rice stays strong. Similar decrements in the B vitamins with cooking for brown and unrinsed white, but once you rinse white rice, they’re mostly gone before they make it into the pot.

What about percolating rice? We know regular rice cooking doesn’t help, but boiling like pasta and draining does. Steaming doesn’t do much. What about percolating rice as a radical rethink to “optimize [arsenic] removal”? So, they tried like some mad scientist lab set-up, but also just a regular “off-the-shelf coffee percolator.” But instead of putting coffee, they put rice, percolating 20 minutes for white, 30 for brown, and got about a 60% drop in arsenic levels using a 12-to-1 water-to-rice ratio. Here’s where the arsenic levels started and ended up. The squares are the brown rice; circles are the white.

So, raw brown may start out double that of raw white, but after cooking with enough excess water and draining, they end up much closer. Though, 60%, percolating at a 12-to-1 ratio, was about what we got boiling at just 10-to-1; So, I see no reason to buy a percolator.

But, even with that 60%, what does that mean? By boiling and draining a daily serving of rice, we could cut excess cancer risk more than half, from like 165 times the acceptable cancer risk, to only like 66 times the acceptable risk.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Juraj Sedlák from The Noun Project

Image credit: gosheshe via Flickr. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

 

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Cooking rice in a high water to rice ratio reduces [toxic] arsenic content”—meaning if you boil rice like pasta, and then drain off the water at the end, you can drop arsenic levels in half. 50 to 60 percent of the arsenic gets poured down the drain, whereas the typical way we make rice, boiling the water off like in a rice cooker or pot, doesn’t help. Or, may even make things worse, if the water you’re using to cook the rice has arsenic in it too—a problem that exists for about three million Americans, as about 8% of public water supplies exceed the current legal arsenic limits.

But “[c]ooking rice in excess water [and then discarding] efficiently reduces the amount of [toxic arsenic] in the cooked rice.” Yeah, but how much nutrition are you pouring down the drain when you do that? We didn’t know, until now.

“Unpolished brown rice naturally contains [nutrients] that are lost when the bran layer and germ are removed to make white rice. To compensate, since the 1940s,” white rice has had vitamins and minerals sprayed on it to quote-unquote “enrich it.” That’s why cooking instructions for white rice specifically say don’t rinse it, and cook it “in a minimal amount of water.” In other words, “the opposite” of what you’d do to get rid of some of the arsenic. But brown rice has the nutrients inside, not just sprayed on.

For example, “[r]insing [white] rice [—like putting it in a colander under running water—] removes much of the enriched vitamins sprayed onto the [white] rice…surface during manufacture,” removing most of the B vitamins, but has “almost no effect on vitamins in whole-grain brown rice,” because it’s got the nutrition inside. Same thing with iron: rinsing white rice reduces iron levels by like three-fourths, but the iron in brown rice is actually in it; and so, rinsing only reduces the iron concentration in brown rice by like 10%. But rinsing didn’t seem to affect the arsenic levels; so, why bother?

Now, if you really wash the rice, like agitate the uncooked rice in water for three minutes, and then rinse and repeat, you may be able to remove about 10% of the arsenic. And so, this research team recommends washing, as well as boiling in excess water. But I don’t know if the 10% is worth the extra wash time. But, boiling like pasta and then draining the excess water does really cut way down on the arsenic, and while that also takes a whack on the nutrition in white rice, the nutrient loss in brown rice is “significantly less,” as it is not so much enriched as it is rich in nutrition in the first place.

“Cooking brown rice in large amounts of excess water reduces the [toxic arsenic] by almost 60% and only reduces the [iron] content by 5%,” but does reduce “the vitamin content of brown rice by about half.” Here it is graphically. A quick rinse of brown rice before you cook it doesn’t lower arsenic levels, but boiling it instead of cooking to dry, and draining off the excess water drops arsenic levels 40%. That was using like six parts water to one part rice. What if you use even more water, boiling at 10:1 water to rice? A 60% drop in arsenic levels.

With white rice, you can rinse off a little arsenic, but after cooking, you end up with similar final drops in arsenic content. But the iron gets wiped out in white rice by rinsing and cooking, whereas the iron in brown rice stays strong. Similar decrements in the B vitamins with cooking for brown and unrinsed white, but once you rinse white rice, they’re mostly gone before they make it into the pot.

What about percolating rice? We know regular rice cooking doesn’t help, but boiling like pasta and draining does. Steaming doesn’t do much. What about percolating rice as a radical rethink to “optimize [arsenic] removal”? So, they tried like some mad scientist lab set-up, but also just a regular “off-the-shelf coffee percolator.” But instead of putting coffee, they put rice, percolating 20 minutes for white, 30 for brown, and got about a 60% drop in arsenic levels using a 12-to-1 water-to-rice ratio. Here’s where the arsenic levels started and ended up. The squares are the brown rice; circles are the white.

So, raw brown may start out double that of raw white, but after cooking with enough excess water and draining, they end up much closer. Though, 60%, percolating at a 12-to-1 ratio, was about what we got boiling at just 10-to-1; So, I see no reason to buy a percolator.

But, even with that 60%, what does that mean? By boiling and draining a daily serving of rice, we could cut excess cancer risk more than half, from like 165 times the acceptable cancer risk, to only like 66 times the acceptable risk.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Juraj Sedlák from The Noun Project

Image credit: gosheshe via Flickr. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

 

118 responses to “How to Cook Rice to Lower Arsenic Levels

Commenting Etiquette

The intention of the comment section under each video and blog post is to allow all members to share their stories, questions, and feedback with others in a welcoming, engaging, and respectful environment. Off-topic comments are permitted, in hopes more experienced users may be able to point them to more relevant videos that may answer their questions. Vigorous debate of science is welcome so long as participants can disagree respectfully. Advertising products or services is not permitted.

To make NutritionFacts.org a place where people feel comfortable posting without feeling attacked, we have no tolerance for ad hominem attacks or comments that are racist, misogynist, homophobic, vulgar, or otherwise inappropriate. Please help us to foster a community of mutual respect. Enforcement of these rules is done to the best of our ability on a case-by-case basis.

  1. To moderators and forum:
    Does anyone know if Dr. Greger has ever discussed digestive issues such as small bowel intestinal overgrowth (SIBO). I am wondering how he has treated his patients for it in his practice or what his opinion is on the FODMAP diet used to treat it. I have tried searching on the site but cannot find any information on it. Surely he must have discussed digestive issues such as this and the best method of treating them.

    Lee




    2
    1. Lee, my memory says that Dr. Greger has discussed this topic – but I believe that the key words were small chain fatty acids or microbiome. I’ll ask the other moderators, too.




      1
    2. Hi Lee
      Have you watched all the videos on microbiota? When I was having an issue and my MD said try this diet I kinda laughed after looking at the list. Being WFPB there wasn’t much left for me to eat. So I never did it. Everything cleared up eventually whether I ate things on that list or not.

      Another idea is to do a search for any good research. I believe I did at the time and their wasn’t any.




      5
      1. I’m gonna chime in here and agree that eating WFPB, and adding in fermented food fixed my gut issues that the fodmap diet did not, and they were horrible for so long. I think a healthy microbiome can defeat many of the common issues we have, and not just related to our guts. A leaky, dysfunctional gut allows all kinds of undesirable complications to gain foothold, including many autoimmune issues. It may take some time to rectify and some trial and error is involved until you heal, but now I can eat about anything (healthy) without issue.




        8
        1. I agree vegetater.
          fodmap seems to just avoid things. John Douillard wrote a book called “Eat Wheat” in which he describes activities to strengthen digestion, which is highly valued in Ayurvedic medicine. Things like fasting, eating a highly diverse diet of prebiotics like celery, jicama, sunchoke and turnips. Also sprouting grains and beans can increase digestibility as well as the fermented foods that you mention. After strengthening digestion, nutritious foods like beans and some grains can be a part of a healthy diet, especially if eaten carefully and in season.
          John S




          2
      1. Thanks for the link WFPBRunner, interesting. The fodmap diet was suggested to me about two months prior to going WFPB. My doctor said to start at the top of the list, and eliminate foods until symptoms abate. I had already given up meat, eggs and cheese months prior. The list started with milk, then wheat, and that was all I had to give up. Eliminating milk products was the best thing I ever did for myself.




        9
        1. Right. I had eliminated dairy years prior. I really think the WFPB diet eventually did the trick. Autoimmune diseases respond well as we know to WFPB.




          2
      2. Thanks WFPBRunner for your help.  Unfortunately this abstract was written in 2007 and does not offer any clear  and unequivocal answers to the diagnosis or treatment of SIBO.  This is what I have discovered in reading more updated links as well.  That is why I was hoping that Dr. Greger who is so well known for rooting out useful information would have discussed this condition.I am happy that Susan has found a solution so quickly.  I have also eliminated dairy but have not found it to be the magic answer yet.  The fodmap diet does seem to rely on meat and eggs as protein sources and would have you eliminate beans and wheat products.  I am trying to stay focused on WFPB diet but worried about where enough  protein sources can be found if so many of the foods that Dr. Greger says we should eat every day are removed from  the low fodmap choices.




        2
        1. Oh I just reread your post. Yes all those foods you mention were eliminated from my diet years before. Only thing left was decrease fruit and eliminate beans. I am a glutenfree, no sugar vegan.




          1
        1. Right. At the time I was WFPB sugar and glutenfree. (Still am) it really wasn’t an option. There wouldn’t have been much for me to eat. That being said I did not find a connection with what I ate and my symptoms.




          1
          1. WFPBRunner, I am a bit confused. So you do not attribute the resolution of your digestive symptoms to the WFBP diet? You are saying that your problems just spontaneously resolved despite what you ate?




            0
            1. Yes. It came up spontaneously. I was diagnosed with IBD via tissue biopsy. I had symptoms for about a year. And it just spontaneously went away. I was unable to affect my symptoms regardless of what I ate or didn’t eat.




              0
                  1. Honestly never expected IBD to clear up spontaneously Can’t believe you continued to eat foods that might have caused issues but that you disregarded them Maybe your diagnosis was not really accurate?
                    I am more used to hearing stories like Susan’s which attribute improvements to dietary changes such as WFPB But I am certainly very glad for you!




                    0
                    1. hi Lee, thought I should just mention a couple of things. I suffered IBS due to 9 yrs of proton pump inhibitor for GERD use. I did have 2 scopes, years apart. I did not do the fodmap diet as was suggested to me. I did eliminate the last bit of dairy in my diet and wheat. The wfpb way of eating really changed things for me.. all the food works together it seems in a way I could not have anticipated. I decided at the time to eat food that would lessen inflammation, and feed the ‘good bugs’. My own doctors thought it brilliant.. If I need to eat simpler food for a time, then I use this as a guide. http://doctorklaper.com/answers/answers07
                      I encourage you to give it a go Lee for a month or two and reacess




                      0
                    2. Hi Susan, thanks so much for your concern.  I am definitely working my way towards that goal and increasingly eliminating inflammatory causing foods.  I have had many health crises over the past few years and I am hoping to avoid any more.  Just wish I had the benefit of a mentor or health adviser here where I live.  So far have only found practitioners who are very traditionalist in their thinking and treatments.  But I shall persist as best I can.  I really appreciate the information that you and others have so kindly provided.
                      Moving in the right direction,Lee




                      0
                    3. When you eat only plants and the doctor gives you a list of foods (fruit beans legumes) to stop eating I had to kinda chuckle. Was I supposed to eat air? You may have misunderstood me. I tried eliminating the most obvious foods but nothing make a difference. For example going on white rice banana diet. Eliminating coffee. Etc. Nothing food wise made a difference and I wasn’t going to go on medication. All I eat is nutrient dense foods so I guess I kinda had faith it would clear up. There isn’t a lot of good data on FODMAP as a cure. It was more “give this a try.” But as I said I wasn’t willing to eliminate perfectly healthy foods.

                      I think you might want to read up a bit more on IBS. It can spontaneously clear up just as quickly as it came.




                      3
                    4. This doesnt surprise me as there is so much more to consider than food in IBS. I’ve spent years doing diets with no great benefits. Stress can play a massive part as well as quality sleep exercise and lifestyle. Stressing about food can sometimes make you worse! That said eating a clean plant based diet is the best you can do for yourself diet wise.




                      0
      1. Thank you GaryGio for a most helpful article.  The only caveat I see is that he had his patients rely heavily on rice….uh ohSeriously though, it does seem as if there is mounting evidence for a WFPB approach to eating.  I am definitely heading down that path.
        Thanks, Lee




        1
      1. Thanks so much, LoveMarie…..I will definitely check it out.I assume your “severe IBS” has disappeared following your vegan diet?
        Cheers, Lee




        0
    3. Lee, If you check on Youtube I think you’ll find something on this by either Dr Klaper or Dr McDougall. I remember one of them talking about it, and both go by the research as well as what has helped their patients.




      0
  2. Great vid! Thanks!
    But what’s the final recommendation? Wash the rice and then boil it like pasta in 6:1 ratio? Did I understand that correctly?
    Thanks again!




    1
    1. … and what if I left the rice to soak overnight and discarded the water – and THEN wash it and cook it (like pasta)? I’m not from the US, and I use Pakistani or Indian basmati mostly, so they’re usually not sprayed with nutrients (neither white nor brown :-)).




      3
    2. I think he is saying that you can reduce the risk, but it’s up to you if you want to take it. Based on what he reports, I will be greatly reducing my brown rice consumption, sadly. We need to clean up this planet!




      0
    3. If you can find it give Cavena Nuda (“Rice of the Praries”) oats a try. It is very similar to brown rice, or a cross between brown rice and wheat berries, and was developed in Canada. Makes a good sub for brown rice, but I’m not sure of the arsenic content, if any.




      1
  3. I read that soaking the rice overnight also reduced the arsenic content, and that when combined with boiling in excess water could remove 80% of the arsenic in brown rice.

    Did you see anything that confirmed this in your review?




    6
  4. This website has said the best water is tap water , is this still recommended since a reverse osmosis would remove arsenic?




    2
  5. 66 times the acceptable risk is still TOO high!

    What about not just rinsing brown rice, but using a 10% salt solution wash? Then boiling ?




    1
  6. Has parboiled or instant rice been tested? I’m a fan of instant brown rice as I understand it still has good levels of the fiber and nutrition.




    1
  7. I’ve fallen in love with my instant pot and cook rice in there. How does that affect the arsenic levels? One article from a google search said it killed the carcinogens, but didn’t mention how much arsenic was left so I regarded that loosely. On the other hand, you use LESS water when pressure cooking so it may be the worst method. Any thoughts?




    0
  8. Simple solution for getting rid of half the problem. =]

    I paused the video and studied Table 3 a little more closely. If I’m reading the legends correctly, the map shows arsenic concentration in about 19k wells and springs across the U.S., and Table 3 shows percentages of selected county water supplies estimated to exceed targeted concentrations (I’m not sure what that means). What I find interesting is the map. We learned in previous videos that much of the rice grown in the South soaks up arsenic from chemicals and animal waste deposited on the ground. But Table 3 shows that county water supplies (wells and springs) in much of the Midwest and South have some of the lowest arsenic levels. Do crops help keep arsenic out of water supplies, or are the two mutually exclusive? I invite comments from informed participants.

    I also noticed that much of the agricultural belt in central California, west of the Sierras and National Forests is in the red for arsenic. Schade.




    2
  9. How about take the rice to boiling point in 1 to 6 parts of water and then throw the water and then cook to dryness? I mean how time is required to eliminate the arsenic? 1 minute, 5, 10, 20..




    2
  10. I’ve always purchased Lundberg organic brown rices and enjoy them very much. After reading several of these very interesting videos transcripts, I purchased Lundberg organic white Jasmine to try it. Nowhere does it say it is enriched (sprayed on nutrients ) and nowhere does it say to wash or rinse this white Jasmine . When I rinsed, the water is very milky, and continues to be milky through several rinses. Iron is listed at 2% in dry 1/4 cup, 1gm fiber, 3 gm protein. Seems like a lot goes down the drain including carbs. It is a delicious aromatic rice that I will use occasionally. I’m going back to the browns, rinse multiple times, then let sit for 30 minutes in water then drain that too. Cook as usual, eat, enjoy. I’m in my mid eighties, still drive, have 20/20 vision and have my own teeth (minus2). I don’t cook my rice in sink water. I’m going to continue as is. Thank you for listening and know that this NF site is the BEST one out and that you youngsters are so lucky to have the opportunity to change your eating while at a such a young age. Be well, peace!




    15
  11. Yahoo!!!
    I just started boiling my rice with the 6:1 ratio months ago and not for the arsenic prevention. It turns out, like pasta you can whip up a perfect pot of rice using this method. The trick is you can sample the rice as it cooks and when you get it to just al dente pull it and drain it. Then put it back into the warm pot, cover and let it sit for 10 min.. Absolutely the easiest, no brainer perfect brown rice method ever. and AND the way to remove the most inorganic arsenic!! A “tooFer”…
    Also instead of just running cold water over the rice to wash it, I learned to actually rub the grains between your hands to scrub off any starch. This method of rubbing the rice creates more separate grains. I do it three times and by the third “rubbing” the water is mostly clear, then into the pot. If I want to really live dangerously I rub my hands with sesame oil on the last rub and get the oil onto every grain and then into the pot.. Gives it a nice nutty flavor and the rubbing makes the grains separate well just like a rice cooker or “cooking till dry” method.
    YMMV and it works for me!!
    mitch




    7
    1. The non clear water may be your nutrients.

      It’s just like if you keep washing your boiled spinach until the water is clear. Or washing your boiled beet until the water is no longer red.




      2
  12. I am not convinced.

    Just like boiling vegetables, once you drain out the boiling water then you drain out also the nutrients. in particular I am more concerned about all the micronutrients being washed away than the regular nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

    In general, we should not worry too much about arsenic as most of them comes from nature anyway. When they tested in the lab, they feed the poor rats with pure arsenic and see then see the rats developing cancer. But we don’t get arsenic the same way but we get through a plant that sucks up arsenic from the ground.

    More than half of the world’s population eat rice on a regular basis and live very long and healthy. They eat a lot of other foods too that we call poison over here that I don’t want to get into at the moment. Our problems are elsewhere, eating processed foods and not eating a diverse foods and then worry too much.




    7
    1. “we should not worry too much about arsenic as most of them comes from nature anyway.”
      Most arsenic that comes into our body is derived through consumption. And when we look at what we consume that contributes to arsenic levels in our system, rice is at or near the top of the list. Blinkered vision won’t save you.
      Joseph in Missoula




      5
    2. Its a valid question. There are many examples of foods that “should” have a specific effect, yet do not.
      The caffeine from tea is diuretic. Tea itself is not diuretic.
      The hydrazines from mushrooms cause cancer. Mushrooms themselves prevent cancer.
      The arsenic from brown rice causes cancer. Brown rice itself …..?

      Broad population-wide correlation between arsenic exposure and cancer would be based almost exclusively upon exposure from poultry, seafood, and white rice. Is there evidence for brown rice itself?




      3
      1. Good point, brown rice toxicity would be lost in the noise, 100-200 per million against a background of 90000 as per the FDA study.
        The whole food effect in which negative effects of one component are removed by others could still be in play. However, such a simple thing as arsenic has less angles for adaptation perhaps. It is a group V chemical like the phosphorus critical for life, but it’s a bigger atom, maybe it messes up transcription in some way.




        0
  13. I soak brown rich for at least an hour before cooking according to recommendations from a vegan chef. Could that have a similar arsenic lowering affect?




    2
  14. This pasta boiling method isn’t worth it to me–I’m not interested in draining off half of the vitamins in my brown rice. “Cooking brown rice in large amounts of excess water reduces the [toxic arsenic] by almost 60% and only reduces the [iron] content by 5%,” but does reduce “the vitamin content of brown rice by about half.” I’ll stick with only once-in-awhile rice consumption.




    2
  15. Sounds like a lousy choice. Either kill off half the nutrients and lower the cancer risk or keep the nutrients and the keep the higher cancer risk. The whole point of using brown rice, is to keep the food nutrient dense. If I am going to turn the rice into white rice equivalent, what is the point?




    5
    1. Yep, and there is nothing for sure that arsenic in the rice causes cancer in the first place. Otherwise more than half of the world population who eat rice regularly already have cancer.




      2
  16. When looking at the effects of arsenic in the video, The Effects of too much Arsenic in the Diet (above), Dr. Greger says, “Look, we know it’s a carcinogen; we know it causes cancer. What more do we need to take steps to decrease our exposure?”.

    So I have to stop being in denial and accept that 66 x the risk is just a tad on the high side. OMG! And I will grieve the loss of rice in my diet.

    Good news is that there other great sources of whole food carbohydrates to accompany all my meals so I will just start to think differently about my meal planning and explore new ways to make my WFPBD even more miraculous at keeping me strong and vital.

    A grateful monthly supporter of Nutritionfacts.org




    7
    1. Hi Bobbi! . I’m Crystal, a Nutrition Facts Moderator.

      Thank you for being a loyal supporter of NutritionFacts.org. I’m so glad the video helped you make the right changes. I hope you have fun experimenting with new sources of carbohydrates and try outing new recipes.

      Remember not to miss Dr Greger’s daily videos.




      0
  17. This whole series of videos doesn’t explain why people whose diets are centered around (brown) rice are much healthier, and have much lower rates of cardio, cancer and other diseases. See “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell. What’s going on here?




    4
    1. May be that they aren’t eating rice that’s grown in arsenic contaminated fields in Texas and Arkansas, and perhaps, if they did, there still would be a benefit over those eating a meat centered diet…




      9
    2. Yours is not the first comment about this and it’s a valid question, Others have commented on the location where rice was grown which may be part of the explanation. Please stay tuned as there are further videos coming on this issue and this question may well be answered soon.




      3
    3. I have been living in Asia (from the Bosporus to the Pacific Ocean) for 26 years, and I have yet to encounter a culture that consumes ‘brown’ rice. The only people that consume the stuff are ‘Hippy-dippy Californian-inspired New Age wanna-be’s’ (and yes I am one).




      4
  18. I was reluctant to do so, but I’ve finally gave the “pasta” method for cooking brown rice, and it came out okay. It’s going to take some getting used to get a similar final result, and I don’t know how I’m going to make pilaf using this method. I will just have to cook a separate casserole mix it with the rice as a post process.

    Even if I never find a way to get the same texture to the rice, it beats the heck out of arsenic poisoning…




    3
  19. The answer to the question, ““Wait, so should we avoid rice or not?”, better be no. Frankly, I’m uncertain as to whether this series was more helpful or harmful. Much of the series has focused on the potential harm of arsenic, with a focus on arsenic in rice. Someone searching this site for videos related to arsenic and rice will end up with many more results suggesting rice is dangerous to consume.

    One simple video highlighting the higher arsenic content of cheap US rice grown in the states of Arkansas and Texas would have sufficed, taking care to contrast the rice grown in those two states with most rice grown elsewhere in the world, including right next door in California.

    How much of the world supply of rice originates in Arkansas and Texas? According to the latest (2014) FAO data, US rice production accounted for just 1.4% of total world production. Context matters.

    While correlation isn’t causation, it’s worth pointing out that if one contrasts the countries with the highest per capita rice consumption with countries with the highest incidence of cancer per 100K persons (don’t ask me why that’s the standard measure), there’s a really strong negative correlation – highest rice consumption correlates with lowest cancer incidence rate. Korean Republic (South Korea) and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) are the only Asian countries in cancer incidence top 50, and they’re highly industrialised countries with high per capita meat consumption.

    By contrast, if one were to contrast the countries with the highest per capita meat consumption with countries with the highest incidence of cancer, there’s a really strong positive correlation – highest meat consumption correlates with highest cancer incidence rate.

    High arsenic intake may contribute to increased cancer risk, but there’s little to suggest eating a lot of rice, prepared the standard way (without lots of water, since most of the high rice consumption countries can’t afford to waste fresh water), leads to higher cancer incidence – at least when looking at rice consumption and cancer incidence between different countries.




    13
      1. Yes, I am sure. I would post a chart if it was possible to do so. The meat and rice consumption stats are available from FAOSTAT (Food Balance > Domestic supply quantity), population stats from the UN and the cancer incidence rates from the WHO.

        Not sure what the recipe page links prove.




        4
    1. If anything the population statistics by country don’t seem to exonerate rice, it looks possibly guilty. I still eat rice though. Its a thorny issue.

      The Republic of Korea had the highest rate of stomach cancer, followed by Mongolia and Japan.
      About 71 per cent of stomach cancer cases occurred in less developed countries.
      The highest incidence of stomach cancer was in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean; and the lowest incidence in Africa and Northern America.
      http://www.wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/data-specific-cancers/stomach-cancer-statistics




      0
      1. If you read my comment, I specifically addressed Korea and Taiwan. As mentioned, they’re the only Asian countries in the top 50 in terms of cancer incidence. They also happen to consume more meat than most other Asian countries. You don’t even need stats to figure that out – just look up Korean restaurants in your area, all of them are ‘Korean BBQ (Bulgogi)’.




        2
      2. Also, that very page you linked on stomach cancer clearly indicates the main causes, h. pylori and smoking, as well as a possible causes, alcohol, salt-preserved foods and processed meat. H. pylori, smoking and salt-preservation are more common in poorer, less developed countries, which helps explain the presence of a number of Latin American and African countries on the stomach cancer list. The consumption of processed meat (which would include BBQ and heavily salted meat) is found in some Asian countries (like Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Mongolia), which helps explain their presence on the list.

        Notably, high consumption of rice is neither listed as a main nor probable cause of stomach cancer.

        As already mentioned, a quick look at the top 50 countries in terms of all cancer incidence from the same page you linked clearly shows all the countries on the list, except for Korea, Taiwan and Japan (highest meat consumption among Asian countries), are in North America and Europe – countries with the least rice consumption.

        http://www.wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/data-cancer-frequency-country




        4
    1. You asked about soaking rice overnight before cooking, and while this is not mentioned in the video as a method of releasing Arsenic, one commenter stated s/he read that soaking the rice overnight also reduced the arsenic content, I could find no references to this and believe if this were an effective method it would have been mentioned in the video. Please keep viewing as there are further videos coming that will help us all determine a proactive method to deal with our future rice intake. Were that just soaking overnight would do the trick! .




      1
      1. The main reasons for soaking rice, bean, grain is to reduce the anti-nutrients such as lectin, gluten, phytate, and to sprout them lightly and make it easier to digest. But other than that, if we soak and keep the liquid then any arsenic that leaches out will stay in the water.

        So one thing I read, which may be applicable to arsenic, is that if you soak rice, bean or grain and then keep the liquid for cooking then the anti nutrients are still gone. You don’t need to drain out the water.




        0
  20. Okay, call me crazy but since I’m old so I have an excuse! I enjoy a variety of rice occasionally in combination with other healthy food, and hate soggy rice or babysitting the pot, so I doubt I will change anything. Sadly we live in a inexcusably polluted world that presents so many challenges and and threatens not just our health but our very existence, trying to keep up with them all is exhausting, frustrating, and depressing. It drags me down so much I am beginning to think that trying to keep track and act on it all has a more negative impact on my quality of life than anything! The problems in our world are many and we need be involved in getting them rectified instead of just working around them, or soon there will be nothing healthy left to eat. I shudder thinking about what my grandkids future will be.




    8
    1. I’m with you Tater! At my age (59), I’ll accept a mildly increased risk of cancer to obtain the other nutritional benefits of brown rice. We’re exposed to environmental risks in many forms. I can’t sweat a 1 in 10,000 (or less) increased cancer risk at this point in life.




      0
  21. Time to ditch the rice… the water footprint to accomplish all this arsenic acrobatics is a little much and easily fixed by eating some quinoa.




    3
      1. I went through this brief phase about ten years ago where I was obsessed with having every type of exotic grain at least once a week. I did quinoa, millet, sorghum, you name it. Concur with Jean, quinoa definitely not a winner. Way overpriced for what it is, and I definitely noticed it left more or less the same as it entered. I later looked it up and there are naturally occurring saponins and other substances in quinoa that make it hard to digest unless one takes a great deal of time and care to prepare it in advance. Not worth it, plus I didn’t really care for the taste of texture.

        I’m sticking to rice, potatoes, barley and oats. I stopped buying the US-grown crap years ago after I saw the Consumer Reports piece. Now only buy jasmine (white and red) from Thailand and basmati (white and brown) from India. If you want to try an alternative that’s just as nutritious as quinoa, is more easily digestible and costs a third or less the price, give millet a go.




        5
  22. Just thinking a little outside the box here but what if you let the rice soak overnight with some cilantro in the water? Would it pull out some of the heavy metals and arsenic out of the rice? I heard it can purify water.

    Any studies done on that?




    2
  23. I ferment my brown basmati rice for 24 hours, using 1 Tablespoon Raw Apple Cider Vinegar to each cup of water per cup of rice. In the morning I add the rest of the water to the cooker and set it to cook for lunch or dinner. I wonder if fermentation kills any of the arsenic? Or would it be more effective to toss the fermented soaking water and add fresh water before cooking?




    0
  24. As I’ve said for 20+ years “Enriched” on the label means you’re looking at “food-like substances” NOT good food.

    Good food doesn’t need enrichment and “enrichment” rarely fixes the issues with the deconstructed “food” in the first place.




    9
    1. Agree with Wade. What’s worse is they’re increasingly making it more and more difficult to avoid ‘eniriched’ foods. And when you do try to avoid them, you often end up paying more, for less. 90% or so of the pasta sold in your average grocery store is ‘enriched’ white pasta. If you want unenriched white pasta, you have to pay double. Unenriched whole grain pasta, you have to pay quaduple. Corn flakes, same thing – you’d be lucky to even find unenriched corn flakes in most grocery stores.

      As a high-carb vegan, it’s actually dangerous to eat enriched foods like pasta and corn flakes. The quantities one would consume to say get 600 cals from cornflakes and the same from pastawould result in a toxic level of iron intake, given how much is added to ‘enrich’ those foods.




      1
  25. I would love to see someone try adding a little activated charcoal to soak water and then rinse and cook normally and see if that would reduce the toxic A? It would need to be someone who can test the results in a lab or something.




    1
  26. Not sure if this has already been asked–I’ve been following this arsenic in rice video series, and I’m looking forward to the rest of these videos. My question is, what about rice products, like rice noodles, rice paper, rice flour that goes in gluten-free baked goods, etc.? Or brown rice syrup? I’ve read in the past somewhere that there’s a lot of arsenic in brown rice syrup…




    1
  27. If I understand correctly, increased cancer risk is proportional to arsenic content. I typically eat two servings of brown rice per week, rather than the one per day cited in the study. And I eat Lundberg organic short grain, which has about half the arsenic of conventional brown rice. That seems it would cut my risk by 80% plus already. So, instead of 1 in 10,000, it’s 1 in 50,000 or better. I’ll take those odds. If I take the added step of cooking in excess water, does that reduce the arsenic and risk in half again? To 1 in 100,000? Clearly seems worth it to me for the nutritional benefits you gain.




    3
  28. I have one question and one paradox I hope you can help me with, since I have no medical background.

    First, living a vegan lifestyle means taking extra supplements of vitamin B12. From dr. Greger’s book and in other articles I read that vitamin supplements don’t work or have no significant influence on health. Why would a B12 supplement work and the rest not?

    Second, in what way is information selected for your website and book? Since talking about it with people that don’t want to give up their animal-based diet, they often use the ‘selection bias’ argument. Is there next to the positive results in science also research suggesting otherwise? If so, what would the ratio be in comparance?




    2
  29. What about alternatives to rice such as quinoa or millet or other grains that could be eaten in a bowl alongside beans and veggies? Are they also grown in arsenic rich soil? Do they absorb arsenic like rice does?




    0
  30. Wow! That last graph is very revealing. Is 120 cancer deaths per million for unwashed brown rice really an unacceptable risk? I have a much higher chance of dying in a car crash or maybe getting hit by lightening.




    0
    1. Paul,

      Correct me if I am wrong, but I think the risk factor is “cancer cases” and not deaths. And to my way of thinking, if I am on Doc’s daily dozen diet, what happens to my cancer chances?




      1
      1. Hi James –

        Don’t even know what types of cancer As leads to and what the outcomes are.

        I’ve pretty much switched over to quinoa. Rice occasionally at home or when eating out.

        I was just struck with the panic over cutting odds of 1:10,000 in half – seems like there are so many other risk factors out there compared to this. If I only eat rice a few times per month, that cuts it by almost 10.




        0
        1. Paul,

          My recollection is the risk factor was stated as “whole life”, that is 50 years of eating a serving of rice every day.

          My focus is on the Top 10 biggies, in “How Not to Die”. A good read, BTW.




          0
  31. Dr Greger,
    Love Your site. After seeing and reading this article, I am wondering if you would recommend not eating brown rice. It seems the best cooking, rinsing would still result in a 65 times the risk of cancer. Is that acceptable to you?




    0
  32. If water doesn’t decrease the nutritional content of brown rice, since the nutrients are inside and not just sprayed on, why does it remove the arsenic? Isn’t the arsenic also inside?




    0
  33. This is way off topic, but I just thought Dr. G might light to know that Herr’s (yes, the potato chip people), are actually feeding discarded Herr’s snack products to its own beef cattle herd on their Herr Angus Farm. “Throw-away potato chips, popcorn, and pretzels”, aka “steer party mix”. An article refers to it as “savory sustainability”. I am not making this up. This is actually happening.

    Here is an article about it in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
    http://www.philly.com/philly/food/local-cows-love-their-herrs-potato-chips-but-does-it-make-the-beef-taste-better-20170726.html

    OMG!




    0
  34. In Persian (Iranian) culinary, rice is a big player, usually mixed with steepened saffron. There are two ways to make rice in Persian kitchen:
    1. Dam-Pokht: adding some water to rice (like 1 more cup water to the amount of rice) and then boiling till evaporation. then they wrap the lid with a cloth to absorb the reminder of steam using a low heat.

    2. Ab-kesh : pretty similar to making pasta. boiling some water with a bit of oil and salt at the beginning. then adding the washed rice to it till get tender. then pouring the rice in a colander. then pouring some oil at the bottom of pot and putting some sliced layers of vegetables like potato or lettuce, or flat bread till they get a bit crispy. finally adding the rinsed rice back to the pot on low heat for 10-15 min.

    but they think method 2 makes rice lose most of its nutrients. any idea? :)




    0
  35. Professor Andy Meharg of the Queens University, Belfast appeared on a BBC TV program called “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor” where he highlighted his research in to Rice and Arsenic. He found that soaking then rice overnight followed by cooking using a 5:1 water ratio reduced the Arsenic content to 18% of that originally present ‘out of the bag’.

    I know this doesn’t count as research but I am hoping it’s backed up with scientific evidence, somewhere!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2F1MDzyW55pg97Tdpp7gqLN/should-i-be-concerned-about-arsenic-in-my-rice




    1
  36. I’m confused by all of this ruminating on arsenic and rice. Should we eat it or not and if so what type and preparation method is best.




    0
    1. Hi Neal: How to cook rice to lower arsenic levels is discussed in the video at the top of this page. I would recommend watching the video in its entirety. Dr. G’s video entitled “Do the Pros of Brown Rice Outweigh the Cons of Arsenic?” will be released on August 14th. Stay tuned!




      0
  37. There is no evidence that I’ve seen that Asians eating rice are not suffering a negative health impact. Keep in mind that just because you don’t “hear” of a problem, doesn’t mean that there really isn’t a problem. All available evidence strongly suggests that Asians are suffering a negative health impact, but the evidence is indirect at this point.




    0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This