Do the Pros of Brown Rice Outweigh the Cons of Arsenic?

Do the Pros of Brown Rice Outweigh the Cons of Arsenic?
4.71 (94.12%) 68 votes

Are there unique benefits to brown rice that would justify keeping it in our diet despite the arsenic content?

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.

For all these years, warnings about the arsenic levels in U.S. rice potentially increasing cancer risk, but it had never been put to the test, until this study, out of Harvard. And, “[l]ong-term consumption of total rice, white rice or brown rice, was not associated with risk of developing cancer in US men and women.” This was heralded as good news: no increased cancer risk found even among those eating five or more servings of rice a week. But, wait a second. Brown rice is a whole grain, a whole plant food. Shouldn’t brown rice be protective, and not just neutral?

If you look at whole grains in general, there is “a significant inverse [or protective] association between…whole grain intake” in general and the risk of dying from cancer. Following my Daily Dozen recommendation of three servings of whole grains a day was associated with a 10% lower risk of dying from cancer, “a 25% lower risk” of dying from heart attacks or strokes, and “a 17% lower risk” of dying prematurely across the board. Whereas, rice consumption in general was “not…associated with mortality”—not found to be protective against heart disease or stroke. And so, maybe this lack of protection means that the arsenic in rice is increasing disease risk—so much so that it’s cancelling out some of the benefits of whole grain brown rice.

Consumer Reports suggested moderating one’s intake of even brown rice, but given the arsenic problem, is there any reason we should go out of our way to retain rice in our diet? With all the other whole grain options out there, should we move all rice to here? Or, are there some unique sort of benefits you can get from rice that would justify continuing to eat it, even though it has ten times more arsenic than other grains? Well, there was this study that showed that a brown rice-based vegan diet beat out the conventional Diabetes Association diet, “even after adjusting for” the extra belly fat they lost. But, that may have been due to the plant-based nature of their diet, rather than just how brown rice-based it was.

This study found a profound improvement in insulin levels after just five days eating brown rice, compared to white. But was that just because the white made people worse? No. The brown rice improved things on its own—but this was in a South Indian population eating a lot of white rice in the first place. So, this may have indeed been at least, in part, a substitution effect. This study showed that instructing people to eat about a cup of brown rice a day “could significantly reduce weight,” and waist, and blood pressure, and inflammation—and not just because it was compared to white. But, a larger, longer study failed to see much more than a blood pressure benefit, which was almost as impressive in the white rice group. So, overall, not too much to write home about. But then, this study rolled around.

This is probably the single most important study on the pro-rice side, showing a significant improvement in artery function after eight weeks of eating about a cup of brown rice every day, but not white. And, sometimes, even acutely. If you give someone a meal with saturated fat, you can get a drop in artery function within an hour of consumption, if you have some obesity-related metabolic derangements. This was along with white rice. But if you give brown, artery function appears protected against the adverse effects of the meal. Okay, so, brown rice does show benefits in interventional studies. But the question was, does it show unique benefits? What about oatmeal instead, or whole wheat?

Well, first, they needed to design an artery-crippling meal, high in saturated fat. They went with a Haagen Daaz, coconut cream, and egg milkshake—with or without a bowl of oatmeal, or, instead of rolled oats, “whole rolled wheat.” What do you think happened? Do you think those other whole grains blocked the artery-damaging effects, like the brown rice did? The whole oats worked, but the whole wheat did not. So, one could argue that brown rice may have an edge over whole wheat. Do oats also have that beneficial long-term effect that brown rice did? The benefit was of a similar magnitude, but did not reach statistical significance.

So, bottom line, until we know more, my current thinking on the matter is: if you really like rice, you can moderate your risk by cutting down, choosing lower-arsenic varieties, and cooking it in a way to lower exposure even further. But, if you like other whole grains just as much—like if you simply don’t care either way if you have rice vs. quinoa, or whatever, I’d choose the lower-arsenic option.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Arthur Shlain, Artem Kovyazin, H Alberto Gongora, and Cédric Villain from The Noun Project.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons. 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.

For all these years, warnings about the arsenic levels in U.S. rice potentially increasing cancer risk, but it had never been put to the test, until this study, out of Harvard. And, “[l]ong-term consumption of total rice, white rice or brown rice, was not associated with risk of developing cancer in US men and women.” This was heralded as good news: no increased cancer risk found even among those eating five or more servings of rice a week. But, wait a second. Brown rice is a whole grain, a whole plant food. Shouldn’t brown rice be protective, and not just neutral?

If you look at whole grains in general, there is “a significant inverse [or protective] association between…whole grain intake” in general and the risk of dying from cancer. Following my Daily Dozen recommendation of three servings of whole grains a day was associated with a 10% lower risk of dying from cancer, “a 25% lower risk” of dying from heart attacks or strokes, and “a 17% lower risk” of dying prematurely across the board. Whereas, rice consumption in general was “not…associated with mortality”—not found to be protective against heart disease or stroke. And so, maybe this lack of protection means that the arsenic in rice is increasing disease risk—so much so that it’s cancelling out some of the benefits of whole grain brown rice.

Consumer Reports suggested moderating one’s intake of even brown rice, but given the arsenic problem, is there any reason we should go out of our way to retain rice in our diet? With all the other whole grain options out there, should we move all rice to here? Or, are there some unique sort of benefits you can get from rice that would justify continuing to eat it, even though it has ten times more arsenic than other grains? Well, there was this study that showed that a brown rice-based vegan diet beat out the conventional Diabetes Association diet, “even after adjusting for” the extra belly fat they lost. But, that may have been due to the plant-based nature of their diet, rather than just how brown rice-based it was.

This study found a profound improvement in insulin levels after just five days eating brown rice, compared to white. But was that just because the white made people worse? No. The brown rice improved things on its own—but this was in a South Indian population eating a lot of white rice in the first place. So, this may have indeed been at least, in part, a substitution effect. This study showed that instructing people to eat about a cup of brown rice a day “could significantly reduce weight,” and waist, and blood pressure, and inflammation—and not just because it was compared to white. But, a larger, longer study failed to see much more than a blood pressure benefit, which was almost as impressive in the white rice group. So, overall, not too much to write home about. But then, this study rolled around.

This is probably the single most important study on the pro-rice side, showing a significant improvement in artery function after eight weeks of eating about a cup of brown rice every day, but not white. And, sometimes, even acutely. If you give someone a meal with saturated fat, you can get a drop in artery function within an hour of consumption, if you have some obesity-related metabolic derangements. This was along with white rice. But if you give brown, artery function appears protected against the adverse effects of the meal. Okay, so, brown rice does show benefits in interventional studies. But the question was, does it show unique benefits? What about oatmeal instead, or whole wheat?

Well, first, they needed to design an artery-crippling meal, high in saturated fat. They went with a Haagen Daaz, coconut cream, and egg milkshake—with or without a bowl of oatmeal, or, instead of rolled oats, “whole rolled wheat.” What do you think happened? Do you think those other whole grains blocked the artery-damaging effects, like the brown rice did? The whole oats worked, but the whole wheat did not. So, one could argue that brown rice may have an edge over whole wheat. Do oats also have that beneficial long-term effect that brown rice did? The benefit was of a similar magnitude, but did not reach statistical significance.

So, bottom line, until we know more, my current thinking on the matter is: if you really like rice, you can moderate your risk by cutting down, choosing lower-arsenic varieties, and cooking it in a way to lower exposure even further. But, if you like other whole grains just as much—like if you simply don’t care either way if you have rice vs. quinoa, or whatever, I’d choose the lower-arsenic option.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Arthur Shlain, Artem Kovyazin, H Alberto Gongora, and Cédric Villain from The Noun Project.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

Ta-da! Done with arsenic—for now. Should the situation change, I’ll cover it again. Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss any updates.

Here are the 13 videos in the series, in case you missed any or want to go back and review:

Next, we completely shift gears back to our regularly scheduled non-arsenic program with Saffron for Erectile Dysfunction

Update: A few months after this series was released, I did another video on arsenic: Benefits of Turmeric for Arsenic Exposure.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

144 responses to “Do the Pros of Brown Rice Outweigh the Cons of Arsenic?

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. Why even eat grains in the first place? Is there such a thing as a healthy vegan diet that excludes all grains,
    and pseudo-grains such as quinoa, and simply gets protein and other nutrients from leafy greens, other veggies,
    sweet potatoes, some nuts, seeds, fruits?




    8
    1. Great question! This might interest you: the Tsimane tribe from Bolivia. http://www.unm.edu/~tsimane/. In a nutshell, their diet is much less processed than ours as they live on the edge of the Amazon rainforest and cultivate their own food. (Tubers, etc). That being said, protective phytonutrients exist within whole grains and many are readily available within my geographic location. As both a nutrition student and instructor, I keep asking myself , “Why would I avoid whole grains when they obviously promote better GI health? Whole grains provide fiber which can lead to short chain fatty acid production.” Oh, and this tribe being studied in the amazon eats corn, by the way.

      This is just a humble opinion, but I will keep eating grains. But I will aim for variety and trust my instincts. As Dr. G has also stated, too much of anything is never a good thing.




      14
    2. Interesting question H since I have experimented with that very idea. In a desperate attempt to lower cholesterol levels (still high on a wfpb no-oil diet)I reduced grains to a serving of oats daily or less. I have noted improved blood test results, not great but improved with that regimen. Eating yams, potaoes etc for starch kicks up butyrate production in lieu of grains. (a good thing) https://nutritionfacts.org/video/resistant-starch-colon-cancer/

      Some of the studies mentioned results different for men than women https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27577106 ie men reap a benefit and women did not.




      5
        1. hi John, to answer your question, yes, exercising a lot. I am slim and fit but experiencing the unfortunate post menopause rise in cholesterol that some women experience. Other women on this forum have shared similar experiences. It’s very frustrating!




          3
          1. Susan, try cutting all added sweeteners, even natural like honey/ & maple syrup, restricting only to dates, date sugar, & blackstrap molasses, as Joel Fuhrman, MD recommends. As sugar affects our triglycerides that can affect our cholesterol. Don’t skimp on the nuts/seeds either–they help!!! Hope this is beneficial.




            0
            1. thanks Gardenmim for your thoughtful reply. Indeed its true that sugars, flour products and fats can raise triglycerides, but this is not my problem. Declining estrogen can cause elevation of LDL, and my levels are too high for someone who has had a bypass operation. 1 tbsp flax and 1/2 walnut daily are the only nuts and seeds I can eat … oh well.




              1
              1. Susan~ I feel your pain. It is annoying to eat so healthfully and have lipid levels that don’t reflect that effort. Part of it is certainly genetic since my husband eats SAD and has lipid levels that are often better than mine. Our kids fall into 2 camps….his or mine. One child eats terribly and has a TC of 140. Another has a TC over 300. I’m sure mine would be over 300 if I didn’t watch my diet.

                Having said that, I have been able to tweak my diet to drop my lipid levels. I had to take into account the glycemic index of foods. I had to not eat short grain brown rice, but switch to long grain or basmati rice. I had to cut down on my fruit intake. Those measures helped me a lot! You can read my journey in more detail on my blog if you want. Just scroll down until you find the Lipid Level part. http://www.youseasonwithlove.com/2017/03/30/lab-update-including-lipids-and-b12/

                I wish us both continued success with our lipids!!!

                All the best,




                0
    3. Why even eat grains in the first place? Because the health benefit associated with whole grains is stronger than even that of vegetables and fruit.

      Schwingshackl et al, 2017. Food groups and risk of all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Am J Clin Nut, 105(6), pp.1462-1473.

      The risk of mortality decreased by 25% with increasing intake of whole grains up to ∼100 g/d…. decreased by ∼17% with increasing intake of nuts up to ∼15–20 g/d… decreased by ∼16% with increasing intake of legumes up to ∼150 g/d… decreased by 11% with increasing intake of vegetables up to ∼300 g/d… decreased by ∼10% with increasing intake of fruit up to ∼250–300 g/d

      Is there such a thing as a healthy vegan diet that excludes all grains? Possibly, though I would expect it to be less healthy than one that includes whole grains. The arabinoxylans in wheat, rye, and barley brans appear to be rather valuable prebiotics.

      But there are lots of ways to get there. The traditional diet of Papua New Guinea highlanders was an extreme monodiet of essentially 2 kg of sweet potatoes and 200 g sweet potato greens, and they had pristine arteries, and effectively no hypertension or diabetes. Pity they smoked tobacco like chimneys and took a while to improve sanitation, or else we’d have another plant-centric long-lived Blue Zone.




      4
      1. @Darryl–
        Just out of curiosity, did the New Guinea tribes adopt tobacco from Western contact, and if so, how many decades ago? It might be useful to design a study which isolates the factor of tobacco use, especially if smoking is not native to the tribe, and some still do not smoke. For example, tribal tradition often reserves for one group certain privileges denied another, which might mean some consistent differentiation of tobacco use might be found.

        The arc of “injustice” is long, too. Just imagine what might have happened to Western mortality figures, had the “Indians” not introduced the English settlers to tobacco. And that, quite aside from the exponential growth of an American tobacco industry and marketing pressures.




        0
        1. Tobacco came to New Guinea four centuries ago, from Mollucan traders who had in turn traded with Portuguese. Its documented on the western coast by 1616, and percolated eastward overland over the next two centuries. Marketing was by native tribes. When Europeans first ventured into the highland around the turn of the 19th/20th century, heavy tobacco use, both pipe and in smoking huts, was well established, and prior to 1960, most tobacco was of a harsh backyard grown variety. Today, 60% of men and 27% of women smoke, 5th highest rate in the world. There’s undoubtedly some cultural shifts going on: 55% of boys and 40% of girls smoke.




          0
      2. Why whole grains (and pseudograins)? Their ferulic acid acts as an anti-oxidant; their soluble fiber helps bind harmful compounds and is fermented into fatty acids that fight inflammation; their insoluble fiber helps bulk stool.

        Barley and oats are good sources of betaglucans, a type of soluble, fermentable fiber that helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol, boosts the immune system and fights inflammation and chronic inflammatory disease. Rye is also filled with fermentable fiber, contains lignans, which help control sex steroid hormones, and spermidine, often called the “longevity elixir” because it helps induce autophagy, the cellular housekeeping process that sweeps up bad cells.

        Buckwheat is my current personal favorite. It’s“been consistently reported as one of the greatest sources of antioxidant activity.”  It’s rich in fermentable fiber and in phytonutrients, very low in methionine and high in glycine, and contains some gamma tocopherols, a type of Vitamin E that is particularly good at preventing cancer, including those sensitive to sex steroid hormones (my personal nemesis). Plus, it’s easy to cook.




        0
  2. In case you missed it.

    “So, bottom line, until we know more, my current thinking on the matter is: if you really like rice, you can moderate your risk by cutting down, choosing lower-arsenic varieties, and cooking it in a way to lower exposure even further. But, if you like other whole grains just as much—like if you simply don’t care either way if you have rice vs. quinoa, or whatever, I’d choose the lower-arsenic option.”




    19
      1. Great question! As a volunteer with the site, an avid ultra runner (not necessarily talented, just something I love to do:) and a nutrition student/instructor, here’s my two cents worth: physical activity changes the biochemistry. Now, that being said, do I understand how low levels of arsenic affect my chemistry? No, I do not. Good habits offer the body protection, but I could never claim how much protection exercise offers. Avoiding risky behaviors seems logical to me.

        Again, just my humble opinion… I support Dr. G’s advice and I refuse to live in fear. Variety. Awareness. Oh– and as a mother of two– certainly I would have been conservative with my food choices. Not medical advice, just a humble opinion. If you are interested in the science, any personal training textbook or kinesiology textbook should go into those details. Cheers!




        6
      2. Exactly. You eat grains because you have to get enough calories to function. There’s an alternative though. You can eat animal products and get all your daily calories, and more, met by saturated fat.




        1
    1. WFPBR’nr said “I’d choose the lower-arsenic option.”

      Agreed.. I switch up grains anyway and my NOLA red beans and rice would suffer without the “proper” grain.. Went galavanting all over looking for Indian or Thai brown basmati or jasmine rice.. The problem is finding a small quantity. The oriental stores that carry it have 10 and 15# bags of the stuff ant that’s a bit much… Found a 5# bag at one place from Thailand that was organic and also found TJ’s carrys smaller quantity of Indian brown..
      So I’m set…
      mitch




      7
      1. For the Canadians out there, I found a huge bag of “India’s Own” brown whole-grain basmati rice, for a very reasonable price ($10.99 CAD) at No Frills. Grown in India, I’ll give it a try. I’m not giving up brown rice totally. Next time I have a urine test, I’ll get tested for arsenic.




        4
      2. Mitch – Don’t know what part of the country you are in, but I found 5# of Thai brown jasmine rice at Walmart for about $3.50. Your local Walmart may be able to order it in for you if need be. Best –




        0
    2. Well lets be fair here , quinoa wasn’t tested like wheat and oats . There are a couple problems with quinoa , like a lot of people get severe stomach pain from the toxins in quinoa . It costs on average 7 times as much , nor has it ever been available in any restaurant I have been in . It tastes ok but rice is more versatile .
      Finding one study that shows oats is more beneficial than rice and then making an assumption that all grains are superior to rice is not science .
      Excuse me while I have my bowl of corn meal which to me tastes like cream of wheat……i need something to jazz it up ?




      9
      1. Ignatius, if you’re looking for something to jazz up your corn grits, I add 1 tsp of erythritol (non-GMO), a heaping 1/2 tsp of turmeric, a heaping 1/4 tsp of cardamom, a 1/4 tsp of Ceylon cinnamon, & a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Add a little nut or veggie milk. I usually add 2-3 tbsp of ground flax seeds, too.

        If the turmeric is too strong for you, add a little more sweetener.

        I like to eat it cold for the resistant starch effect.




        3
        1. @WFPBNancy
          Noticed you use freshly ground black pepper. My family is approaching a decision between black pepper and piperine extract. The rationale is the safrole fraction of black pepper is a suspected / weak human carcinogen, whereas piperine is not. Have you considered safrole a risk?




          0
    1. There are populations around the world who do (or did not, prior to globalization) not eat grains. Some groups got their calories mainly from starchy tubers such as taro, cassava and sweet potatoes. Others got their calories primarily from animal fat (e.g., the Inuit).




      4
      1. I agree. Grains as a staple food were not commonplace until the advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago–the so-called Neolithic revolution. Since the human race is much older than agriculture, I think it’s fair to say that human beings have mostly eaten little or no grains, from the perspective of their entire history as a species. Other primates don’t eat grains, for the simple reason that they’re not really there in their habitat to be eaten. Wild grains take a lot of labor to gather and make edible. Optimal foraging theory says that species will always prefer foods that provide more energy than what it takes to get them.

        Agriculture began with the domestication of grains, resulting in species easier to harvest, with larger kernels providing better energy payloads. Just how this happened is still something of a mystery. Presumably humans ate some grains prior to agriculture. Why would they take up the cultivation of something they previously didn’t eat at all? But they couldn’t have been a major part of the human diet until agriculture made it possible to produce relatively large quantities of energy from them.

        Prior to agriculture, the most concentrated sources of energy were meats, fruits, nuts, tubers, and root vegetables, so that’s what people mainly ate prior to grains. Those who choose not to eat meats or grains can easily be nourished with the other stuff.




        8
            1. Then you’ll be happy to know that Neanderthals, who long preceded H.sapiens, and were at one time thought to be strict meat eaters [why, I’ve no idea, that’s racist thinking for you], have been shown to eat grains, by analyzing their dental plaque.
              Those near kin of ours with whom we interbred, lived a solid half million years ago, preceded by a Heidelberg type of human.




              5
              1. cooking it in a lot of water, 8:1 water to rice ratio, does reduce it. soaking not so much. sprouting I doubt does much. The inorganic arsenic is not incorporated by the rice into a carbon-based organic molecule as far as I know.




                1
          1. And they lived to a ripe old age of about 20-25 YO.

            100,000 years later, I avoid most grains (no rice for a couple of years) and have mostly given up my Rye Crispbreads, although I occasionally eat a cracker or two with a sugar free jelly or applesauce + moringa, spread on them.

            But I get that I approach food differently than most. That is, I see it as fuel and as long as I’m getting full nourishment including via supplements, I’m satisfied.

            When it comes to food, palatability is my main concern rather than fine dining.




            2
        1. Interesting.

          Would they primates been eating raw fresh corn on the cob, fresh beans, or would these as well be
          discarded by primates? I assume in the raw state that they contain lots of anti-nutrients, although i
          know vegans who eat raw corn off the cob, and lots of it. I’ve always questioned the safety in that.




          0
        2. I wouldn’t tie the consumption of grains to the advent of agriculture. Man has been making “beer” for 30,000 years at least. And that involved grains.




          1
        3. @Todd–
          Fascinating and concise review of development of agriculture. Food technology is one of our first successful attempts to control our natural surroundings (for better or worse). Is there a text you would recommend?




          0
    2. I love veggies, but how boring eating would be without the grains. I crave variety in my life and in my food. Hmmmm…wonder what Dr. McDougall would have to say?




      2
  3. In the Int J Cancer paper (the first-quoted one in the video), the group with the highest consumption of brown rice also seems to have the highest consumption of fruits and veggies. How do we know that the cancer-protective effects aren’t coming from the fruits and veggies, and not the brown rice?




    7
    1. Great question Sam! I suppose if one studies phytonutrients in utter detail then one might be able to answer that question. There is another line of thought out there (via the nutrition professionals) and that is the synergy of food works together to protect and heal us. It’s quite possible that both the brown rice (whole grain) and the fruit (whole fruit) are necessary to deliver protective results. Variety. I am certain that Dr. G would agree.




      4
  4. Thank you NutritionFats.org for the very informative video on rice. I’m reducing my brown rice consumption from one serving daily to 3 serving per week until more information is available.




    8
  5. My post several days ago indicated that I would try a number of whole grain rice alternatives that were unfamiliar to me. The objective was to determine whether there were other whole grains that could be substituted for brown rice. As soon as my package of a dozen different whole grains arrived from Bob’s Red Mill, I cooked some of them, including farro, millet, kamut, spelt, and cracked freekeh to see what they were like. Farro is similar in taste and texture to short grain brown rice (slightly sticky). It would make an excellent substitute for brown rice. Millet, which is gluten free, has a neutral taste with a slightly grainy texture. When cooked, it is pale yellow. Kamut has a slightly nutty taste and a moderately chewy texture. It could be substituted for brown rice. Spelt tastes like brown rice and has a quite chewy texture. It could substitute for brown rice. Cracked freekeh has a slightly smoky taste and the texture of cracked wheat. It was not my favorite, but perhaps it complements local Middle Eastern cuisines with which I am not familiar. I particularly liked the farro, kamut, and spelt. Other people might have different preferences, according to taste. I would also recommend trying bulgur, the traditional nutty-tasting grain used to make tabbouleh. There are many other whole grains to choose from, such as quinoa, which I had already tried prior to Dr. Greger’s very informative series of videos on arsenic in rice.

    So, once you have identified some new grains that you like, how might you incorporate them into meals? I used to make what I called “rice bowls.” These have now metamorphosed into “grain bowls.” Grain bowls are easy to make, especially if you use Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen app. Using the list, begin with a grain of choice, add some beans, greens, other vegetables (raw or cooked), and nuts or seeds, perhaps some fruit as well. Add a splash of dressing, if desired. I make my own salad dressings to lightly dress most of the grain bowls, tahini-based dressings being among my favorites. So, for what it’s worth, this is my take on trying new whole grains – bon appetit!




    40
    1. Josephine, Thanks for passing along the information from experimenting with other grains. This was very helpful, and very well written, I might add!




      10
    2. Great post, thanks. I love the his site. I’m not a vegan and at one time might have been a meat-aholic. I’ve learned that’s not a sustainable diet, but have been changing slowly. I so appreciate how Dr G brings the science to us in such a well thought out manner.




      12
    3. Thanks Josephine for your grain ‘review’ – it’s really helpful. I agree with you re the farro and spelt. I have cooked spelt (soaked an hour or two, then boiled approx 28 min, drain thoroughly) and combined with cooked lentils, chopped onion, peppers, carrots, celery, greens like kale, sunflower seeds, for a satisfying meal. Spelt drains ‘dry’ from the cooking water and the grains remain separate, unsticky, in my experience.




      7
    4. Agree. We eat “grain” salad twice a week. Kamut, onions, garlic, chickpeas or soybeans, and cooked a vegetable of whatever happens to be out in the garden. Marinated in 2 parts vinegar, 1 part lemon juice, and 1 part soy sauce. Served over fresh greens. Fabulous and plenty of calories. You can substitute whole wheat pasta for the kamut.

      Farro is a good rice substitute and it doesn’t have to be soaked and cooks pretty quickly. Unfortunately, much more expensive than rice.




      6
    5. Hope this isn’t a double post since my first attempt disappeared.
      Josephine – Did you buy a sampler package of grains from Bob’s Red Mill or just 12 different packages of grains. I like the idea of doing a taste test of different grains. Thanks




      0
    6. Another nice option is bulgur or cracked wheat. Bulgur is steamed, dried and toasted, locking in flavor and nutrients and doesn’t even require cooking, just a soak in boiled water if you are patient, otherwise, a a quick boil and drain. If you’ve ever had tabbouleh, that is what is used. Cracked wheat is just milled grain reduced to a finer state like coarse breadcrumbs and can be cooked like rice. I use both a lot, very versatile, a good ingredient for making veggie burgers, nice color, texture and a mild taste. If you live near a city with a diverse ethnic mix, some supermarkets carry smaller quantities but I usually buy big bags at steep discount at ethnic groceries…middle eastern, Indian, Mexican, etc…my favorite places to shop always, but especially since going WFPB. I love trying new foods and now with the internet anyone can be an international cook!




      3
    7. My kids will not yet eat other grains by themselves, but I can mix in another grain to almost a 50/50 blend of brown rice with another grain without them noticing. They notice the barley and wheat berries the least. They can spot the quinoa because of its unique shape and sometimes turn up their noses, sometimes not. But it’s nice to get the variety and reduce the arsenic content as much as I can.




      4
  6. Dr G,

    Thank you for being open and honest when it might be unpopular with many to hear a message that they don’t want to hear. It would have been easy to sugar coat it but you didn’t take the easy way out.

    This was very interesting and a great series.

    I will moderate my rice consumption and strive to reduce As in my diet.




    9
    1. No Joe, today it’s cyanide, we all need variety, LOL, and In fact, I just prepped some to cook! I grow chaya, cassava, pigeon peas and a few other beans and greens that always require cooking to off-gas the cyanide before you eat it. Not many conventional veggies grow here in the summer, (S FL) because of the heat, monsoons, and sugar sand instead of soil, but I am loving the super easy perennial tropicals, many of which are shrubs and trees that are like grocery stores, producing edible leaves, pods, seeds and even flowers and require no work at all after planting, besides harvesting. Coming from New England and thinking gardening here would be a breeze was a big delusion, and it took a lot of re-education, but the rewards are great!




      4
  7. The subject is not complicated and does not depend on what you like best. Avoid other than low-arsenic rice like CA or some from Thailand and consume more intact whole grains. The traditional Okinawans are the longest living group on the planet and consume very large quantities of what we call sweet potatoes.
    Whole grain barley has a lot going for it less the arsenic as well as many other grains.




    3
  8. Will someone from Nutrition Facts please respond to my question!?? Here it is again:

    I’m having a love affair with an organic tortilla chip. I eat these chips at least twice a day. They contain brown rice. I contact the company who makes these chips and this was their reply: “. Our supplier’s organic brown rice is grown in California, Uruguay and Argentina. For the varieties of our chips that contain organic brown rice, the content is about 4-5% of the overall Multigrain Chips…” Should I end my affair? Is this a small enough amount of rice that it would be ineffective re cancer?

    Thank you.




    0
    1. I know your question is about the arsenic level in your favorite chips. But I have a question for you: If you are familiar with Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen food plan why are you eating chips twice a day? They are a highly processed food and contain oil and salt. None of those components are recommended for optimum nutrition and health.




      12
    2. Are your chips salted? If so, how much salt in serving? Are your chips fried in fat? There are other factors to be considered in addition to concerns about arsenic when eating processed foods.
      Also, the high levels of arsenic are found rice from the Southeastern United States, according to the info in the series. You did watch the series of videos, yes? Did you miss that?




      4
      1. Now now Roger and Anne, if you’ve read Greger’s book “How Not to Die,” he is clear that if the only way to get the healthy stuff in (like a salad) is to add a small amount of unhealthy stuff (like bacon bits), then by all means indulge a little to get the nutritious benefits. And remember that changing your diet is a process and it can take time especially for those of us with ingrained habits or unhealthy food relationships.

        Anna, my advice is this: the rice is a very small amount of the chip, so I wouldn’t worry about that. And kudos to you for going for the multigrain chips instead of the regular old tortilla chips, because you are getting some extra fiber that way. But as Roger and Anne pointed out, they do have some fat and salt that you want to minimize as much as possible.

        Here’s what I do when I want to “have my chips and eat them too”: I make a big bowl of Mexican-style salad or salsa with whatever appropriate ingredients I have at home at the time – tomatoes, onions, peppers, corn, avocado, some lime juice, you get the picture. And then I crumble a serving of chips on top of the big bowl to add a little crunch. More “advanced” followers of Greger may balk at this, and say I should just skip the chips. But compare that to what I was eating five years ago – a heaping plate of tortilla chips smothered in queso with *maybe* a spoon of canned salsa on top. I’ve come a long way, baby. And I’m sure you have too, Anna. Keep up the good work.




        4
    3. I buy a bag of blue corn chips now and then and like them with salsa. The blue corn is non GMO…but they have salt and are fried in oil.

      Probably a little better food than say french fries?

      Rarely I buy a half gallon of ice cream. And now and then mac & cheese.

      I also overindulge in nuts on occasion.

      Oh…I thought this was the confession booth….

      I mostly eat fruits/veggies/grains/nuts and some ocean fish. Some MCT and EVO oils.




      2
    1. Some rice grown in India and Bangladesh apparently has been found to have very high arsenic content. Cf. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/the-trouble-with-rice/
      where it is claimed that:
      “The highest concentrations of arsenic in rice-growing regions are mostly found in parts of Asia — including Bangladesh and India — where the underlying arsenic-rich bedrock contaminates groundwater used for both drinking and irrigation of rice fields.”

      I’m surprised more people are not concerned about contaminants other than arsenic in rice, e.g. cadmium and mercury. This makes me reluctant to buy rice and other food products from China, India, Thailand. Who knows where it was grown in that country and what contaminants it might contain?

      I’ll take my chances with US food produce.




      2
  9. I apologize if this question has already been introduced:

    Has anyone tried any of these products: http://www.earthlychoice.com/products.html

    I found Organic Italian Farro in my Farmers’ Market recently and gave it a try. I like the texture of Farro better than rice. It takes only 25 minutes to cook and has a similar taste to rice. If you scroll down the page you can see a mess of rice alternatives, whole grains, seeds, and “other” products.




    2
    1. Yes, farro is good and can be cooked in rice cooker with minimum water. For rice you need much more water, and therefore electricity and time, to cook to dilute the arsenic.




      1
    1. Hi Peter! Good question… it’s being worked on now, but I’m not sure of the exact release date. It shouldn’t be much longer, though!




      0
    1. Organic vs not is irrelevant when it comes to arsenic.

      If the rice is from Can., I wouldn’t sweat it. In any event, just spread out your consumption.




      1
    1. James O., I would guess that this series is much longer to explain thoroughly the risk factors to people who are already restricting their diets about a potential carcinogen in one of their staples. Even the result is -limit intake, and cook a special way, and buy grown from here, if you really must keep rice in your diet-so personally, I appreciate the long series…its very convincing, as opposed to mildly convincing or an afterthought that a two minute video might be. “Arsenic? How bad can can a little bit of arsenic be if its in all the drinking water anyway?”-me, 1 month ago.




      0
      1. Jessica, my thinking is the series has overemphasized the risk factor. Let me explain, the lifetime cancer incidence factor from arsenic in rice is stated as 130 per million people. No problem so far, but how do you weigh that 130 per million. One way to give a sense of proportion is to compare the rice arsenic risk to other risks, for example there is a lifetime risk of 100 per million to be struck be lightning. Now does that tell you something, I would think so, it screamed at me when a heard in another video on the risk of rice arsenic. Another comparison, cancer kills 21.5%, or at the lifetime death rate of 215,000 per million. To my way a thinking I will be far better off if I focus on building, preserving my body’s defense against the 215,000 rather than chasing after the onesie’s.

        Good luck with your health.




        5
  10. One quick question? If you boil rice like pasta or peel veggies that may have Arsenic in the peel , what do we do with it. If we dump it down the drain are potentially poisoning future water supply? Or do we dump it in the yard and upset the soil ?




    3
    1. David Armstrong
      I would not sweat it , while north america no longer have a factory to make arsenic , china does and they export thousands of tons into north america every year , arsenic is still used in usa. China may still be using arsenic on their fruits and vegetables .at least some in the agriculture field believe this to be true. China used arsenic legally as late as 2000. Be careful around treated wood , that’s arsenic .




      2
    2. David,

      you should dump it down the drain, the small amounts of arsenic surely won’t poison water supply. I think it’s better to leave it to the wastewater treatment plant than put it in the enviroment.




      0
  11. Our go to grain is actually a combination of two grains, quinoa and millet. My wife came up with the blend as a whole grain substitute for couscous but we also use it in place of brown rice especially when we are in a hurry since it cooks in only 20 minutes. We make 2 cups at a time so we have leftovers that we can add to various meals over the course of a few days. We have tried different ratios and now stick with 3/4 cups of millet to 1 1/4 cups of quinoa cooked in 3 cups of water. The millet adds a nutty flavor and body while the quinoa keeps the mixture fluffy, preventing it from becoming a sticky mass especially when reheating. And millet is considerably less expensive than quinoa.




    7
    1. Thanks for this helpful suggestion! I plan to continue once a week low arsenic brown/black rice rinsed and cooked in lots of water plus this mixture for other times I need whole grains. I like quinoa but it lacks body for some dishes so adding the millet is a great idea!




      1
    2. I may give this mix a go. I’ve tried millet before, it seemed dry and tasteless. This mix is similar to Earthly Choice Super grain Blend, a mix of quinoa, millet and buckwheat.
      Thanks for sharing!




      0
  12. Thank You, Dr Greger.
    It appears that the presence of arsenic depends on its presence in the soil and water associated with the plants that grow in that soil. What does it depend on whether there will be more or less accumulated arsenic in some plant?




    1
  13. I follow a plant based and gluten free diet (due to intolerance). This is distressing news to gluten free folks because of the amount of rice flour in gluten free baked goods and breads. On that note, I make my own bread and baked goods, and eat it about 4 times a week a most, and brown rice once a week or less. I assume there is the same risk for brown rice flour?




    1
  14. The issue that faces me is my friends and I live in rural California. We do not have a lot of grocery stores near us and many of us are on a very limited income. Brown rice until now has seemed to be available, healthful, and inexpensive. Other choices, like quinoa, are not as available and definitely not inexpensive. Since potatoes are sprayed with arsenic before harvest are they also high in arsenic?




    0
  15. I’m Japanese American and I’m going to continue eating brown rice. Insisting that Asian people switch to something else is like telling people just to grab any kid from the playground instead of just looking for their own– little kids are pretty much interchangeable.




    2
  16. I still don’t quite understand. Arsenic in rice is so high, and so bad for you, why don’t we hear about or see widespread Arsenic poisoning, or directly correlated cancers resulting from it when it comes to all the people in different countries who eat a TON of it?
    It seems that somehow it might not be nearly as detrimental as all these videos make it to be.
    But that is just an assumption I have, and all the data in these videos do not support this assumption.

    Just wondering, as so many Asian and Indian and other cultures use it as such a main staple. You’d think whole societies would be dying out or having crazy cancer rates, yet countries like America seem to tend to have more cancer and more deaths than all these other countries.




    5
    1. mm, did you watch the video? I’m asking because your comment sounds like you didn’t. And if you did, maybe you need to watch it again. I watch them sometimes 2 or 3 times.




      1
      1. Hi Nancy, Yes I have watched every single video up until now. It is a ton of mixed information, but it lands on the side of basically consider rice a Red Light food, or only consume VERY occasionally, a couple times a week at the most. Use other grains instead and vary them for the most part.
        I take it all in.
        Still, my question is the same.
        I’ve read THE CHINA STUDY, I’ve seen FORKS OVER KNIVES, I’ve Read WHOLE, and a million other things.
        Why don’t we hear about Arsenic poisonings in Asian or other countries that consume 1,000 times more rice than Americans do, as a MAJOR concern?
        Is it the same as all food stuff here? That it is just confusion in the public eye, that it is kept in the dark or blatantly lied about?
        Are there 1,000 times more cancer in these countries than in other places, and those also are kept hidden, or they aren’t admittedly pointed toward the rice and the Arsenic in it?

        It just keeps seeming possible that the rice doesn’t actually give our bodies this much arsenic or that it isn’t as dangerous as all this is pointing too.
        But then again, I trust Dr. Greger and all the data, and don’t want to just make some assumption and harm my body with a ton of arsenic either.




        2
        1. Sorry, mm. I’m not hearing the same thing you’re hearing. This quote from Dr. G pretty much summed everything up for me:

          “So, bottom line, until we know more, my current thinking on the matter is: if you really like rice, you can moderate your risk by cutting down, choosing lower-arsenic varieties, and cooking it in a way to lower exposure even further. But, if you like other whole grains just as much—like if you simply don’t care either way if you have rice vs. quinoa, or whatever, I’d choose the lower-arsenic option.”

          I heard these 2 recommendations above “until we know more”, and I also heard to steer clear of rice grown in south central USA.
          If we did hear about arsenic poisoning in countries with high rice consumption, he would probably recommend something else entirely.




          0
    2. my grandmas, one is 94, the other just passed 105, have been eating rice for their whole life. my parents and in laws and uncles and aunts, 70-90s yo, the same, healthy, and happy, living in china. Dr. G has too much limitation. too much stress and worries, which is much worse than any food he does not allow to eat. period.




      0
  17. Hi Dr. Greger. Although you have spoken on the benefits of Black rice, you seem to dwell especially on brown. In your current video on rice, you neglect to mention black rice altogether. From you past video on rice, I gather Black and Red rice has half the Arsenic of brown and 5 times the nutritional benefits. So, half the arsenic is a good start. On one of your previous rice videos, you mentioned Asian contains 95% less arsenic. Since countries such as India and Thailand are Buddhist, and use no arsenic on their soils, it appears purchasing rice from these areas would be a good safe bet. Therefore, your recommendation needs to be re-evaluated to include pigmented rice which are proven very healthy. I intend to purchase black and red rice from Thailand. Anyone can purchase black and red rice from common websites which sell the brand Dragonfly.




    1
  18. Hi Dr. Greger. Although you have spoken on the benefits of Black rice, you seem to dwell especially on brown. In your current video on rice, you neglect to mention black rice altogether. From you past video on rice, I gather Black and Red rice has half the Arsenic of brown and 5 times the nutritional benefits. So, half the arsenic is a good start. On one of your previous rice videos, you mentioned Asian contains 95% less arsenic. Since countries such as India and Thailand are Buddhist, and use no arsenic on their soils, it appears purchasing rice from these areas would be a good safe bet. Therefore, your recommendation needs to be re-evaluated to include pigmented rice which are proven very healthy. I intend to purchase black and red rice from Thailand. Anyone can purchase black and red rice from common websites which sell the brand Dragonfly. I look forward to your comment.




    0
  19. Hi,
    Thank you to the whole team for your videos, all very appreciated.
    Please remind in every single video when an issue is U.S.-specific, limiting rice intake is not a recommendation that’s relevant to everyone on the planet.
    You have many followers from all over the world, and I have to admit many of us feel patronised by the unspoken U.S.-centric angle of some videos, or the northern-hemisphere-centric approach taken in the supplement recommendations elsewhere on the website (it’s all about sun exposure in the northern hemisphere).
    Giving worldwide advice to people based on a single country’s case/data can also be ill-advising in some cases. That’s the case for soil contamination, as well as supplement recommendations that do not acknowledge the diversity of local soil nutrient variations. We would greatly appreciate if you could take into account those aspects for the sake of the very large follower base outside of the U.S.

    Thank you and keep up the good work.




    4
  20. I recently got an Instant Pot so have been doing a lot of experimental cooking, and steel cut oats have become a new favorite grain! Everyone seems to think of oats as a sweetened breakfast cereal instead of a comforting, savory grain, but I cook it with veggies and broth to make a wonderful, “creamy” easy, risotto-like dish with none of the fuss of actual risotto. Every plant based person owes themselves an Instant Pot, a bit of a learning curve, but makes cooking so much nicer!




    4
  21. Before commenting, it’s worth pointing out the mis/disinformation in this video.

    “Consumer Reports suggested moderating one’s intake of even brown rice.”
    -Actually, Consumer Reports recommended limiting brown rice in particular, not “even brown rice.” In fact, it specifically warns against consuming brown rice. A folow-up 2014 Consumer Reports article noted “Brown rice has 80 percent more inorganic arsenic on average than white rice of the same type.”

    “This was heralded as good news: no increased cancer risk found even among those eating five or more servings of rice a week. But… shouldn’t brown rice be protective, and not just neutral?”
    So at the end of a 13-part video series raising false alarm about cancer risk in rice, Dr. Greger finally gets to the only study that actually looked at the evidence… and found no statistically significant risk of cancer, even with the highest level of rice consumption. But that’s not the whole story, since the 2016 International Journal of Cancer article looked at total as well as white and brown rice consumption. A significant finding of the study that Dr. Greger fails to mention is that those who consumed white rice 5+ times per week actually had a lower relative risk (RR 0.87) of developing cancer. Those who consumed brown rice 5+ times per week actually had a higher relative risk (RR 1.17) of developing cancer.

    If Dr. Greger’s real concern was the arsenic in rice potentially increasing cancer risk, then, based on the science available, he would advise less brown rice consumption and substitution with white rice instead.

    But in his last video, Dr. Greger quickly dismissed white rice as a ‘red light – AVOID’ food because it causes diabetes. A disingenuous claim, since he knows that not to be true. He has numerous videos on this very site discussing how Dr. Walter Kempner reversed diabetes on his aptly named ‘Rice Diet’, which was mostly white rice with some fruit and sugar added. Heck, even in the recent movie “What the Health” Dr. Greger can be seen saying Kempner “was reversing diabates” with his white rice diet.

    The problem never has been white rice causing diabetes, at least any more or less so than brown, but rather what is consumed with the rice. In particular, meat. The funny thing is that while the referenced 2016 IJC article specifically focused on looking to see if there was a link between rice consumption and cancer, it inadvertently also addressed the diabetes question.

    Table 1 of the 2016 IJC article shows some characteristics of rice consumers by type and quantity of rice consumed. Those characteristics include ‘Type 2 diabetes, %’ and ‘Red meat, servings/d’. The data that was analysed in the study came from three sources, two female nurses’ studies (NHS I and NHS II) and the mens’ health professional follow-up study (HPFS).

    While those in the NHS I and HPFS who consumed 5+ servings of white rice had higher incidence of diabetes than those consuming 5+ servings of brown rice, in both those studies the white rice eaters were consuming 2 times as many servings of red meat per day. By contrast, in the NHS II study there was a much smaller difference in red meat consumption between the white and brown rice eaters – and the white rice eaters actually had a slightly lower incidence of diabetes.

    This entire series has been an exercise in disinformation. Rice does not cause cancer. Rice does not cause diabetes – Dr. Greger himself has stated as much numerous times in the past. Given that rice is the staple of plant-based diets the world over, not least for being the most readily available and affordable food on the planet, this series trying to scare people away from consuming rice is a disservice to those trying to promote a plant-based diet.




    7
    1. I never understood that the problem in this series was with rice, but that it was with the arsenic in the rice. Knowing that there is arsenic in rice would be foolish to ignore the risks it poses. Based on the scientific information presented everyone can draw their own conclusions, also taking in account the recommendations given.




      5
    2. Poop Patrol
      Thanks for your valuable insights ! I too almost fell out of my easy chair when Dr Greger said white rice causes diabetes , when his blog the day before he told about Kempners rice diet . Seems pretty strong contradiction .
      Most likely Kempner didn’t just get lucky with rice , it was well thought out course of action , he needed something low in protein, easily digestible and good tasting for his very sick patients . rice fits the bill better than anything else .




      3
        1. No one missed it, Dr. Greger. As noted in the comment above, we know that you know that white rice does not cause diabetes.

          The question was why did you try to insinuate otherwise in the preceding video by saying, “white rice intake is associated with an increased risk of diabetes”?

          Since you refuse to answer the question, here’s what most of us think: You came up against some research (certainly not the only research out there) that didn’t jive with your “Why eat white rice when brown rice is better?” mantra. When it comes to arsenic in rice, brown is significantly worse. So you tried to pivot by suddenly throwing in that ‘white rice causes diabetes’ bit, despite knowing that it’s not true.

          There are a lot of other reasons why brown rice isn’t necessarily better and why 95% of the rice consumed in the US (even more internationally) is white rice. Without refrigeration, brown rice goes rancid in 6 months; white rice can last for 6 years. It’s easier to produce more white rice, since it takes less time to process it. The bran not only absorbs more arsenic, but more of all heavy metals that may be found in a given soil or water supply. Rice bran also contains those dreaded ‘anti-nutrients’ that make brown rice less digestible and its nutrients less bioavailable. Last, but certainly not least, most people simply can’t stand the taste and/or texture of brown rice. That’s why one of the oldest methods of processing rice, and still the most common method, is parboiling, which removes the bran but retains half or more of most of the nutrients found in it – not that great a loss, since one fifth or more of the nutrients in brown rice are not bioavailable. There’s a reason almost everyone on the planet consumes white rice instead of brown, and it has nothing to do with ignorance of ‘Nutrition Facts’.

          As noted in the original comment, the only relevant research – cited at the end of this needlessly alarmist 13-part ‘Arsenic in rice’ series – did not support “Why eat white rice when brown rice is better?” but actually directly contradicted it. Those who consumed 5+ servings/week of brown rice had a higher relative risk of developing cancer (RR 1.17) and those consuming 5+ servings/week of white rice had a lower relative risk (RR 0.87). The study inadvertently also addressed the diabetes question by showing that in the NHS II study where meat consumption was around the same among both groups consuming rice 5+ times/week, those consuming white rice actually had lower incidence of diabetes.

          The science not only fails to support your advice, but directly contradicts it. The question you refuse to answer is why. The only sensible conclusion is that you’ve let your bias cloud your judgement.




          4
  22. I watched all the rice videos but still not sure is this including all rice species or only those made in USA. I live in Serbia, maybe we don’t get USA rice, maybe we get Paki, or Indian…
    So, is this “10 times more arsenic compared to other grains” just for USA made rice or for all rice production worldwide?
    Maybe I missed something.




    1
    1. Depends upon where it is grown in the US. I’d avoid anything from Texas and Eastward, IF one can determine the location where grown. Big Ag likes to mix everything together for industrial processing gains (profits) despite the negatives relating to human health (spreading problems quickly).




      0
  23. pp, I’m not hearing Dr. G say that he believes rice causes diabetes. He’s merely pointing out the findings of several studies. If you take a look at the video he posted below, you’ll see that he’s suggesting that the cause isn’t rice, but an uptick in animal protein consumption that could be exacerbating the insulin spike from high glycemic foods.

    I think one of the reasons why this series has been so confusing for so many people is because of the lack of scientific studies. Many people have a need for answers to be black or white, so to speak. And unfortunately the science is leaving us with more grey areas than some of us would like.




    1
      1. Marilyn, CA rice, particularly Lundberg brand, and Asian rice were shown to have less arsenic. You can cook it like pasta to reduce it further – 10 cups of water to 1 cup of rice – then drain the water. But if I were you, I’d watch the videos for more detail.




        0
  24. Dr G. Has any comparison been done with the arsenic levels in rice compared to pressure treated wood that had to be ripped out of play structures years ago? https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/270_0.pdf It would be interesting to see as a comparison of the toxicity between rice to treated wood; not that we eat the wood but there was enough concern simply based on contact to warrant massive change.

    Thanks!




    0
  25. I have no problem substituting rice for other grains, but my wife is Chinese, and I doubt she would ever give up the food she’s been eating 3 times a day for decades. Heck even the Chinese word for ‘food’ literally means ‘rice’. It would be like me trying to give up drinking water. So my question is, are there any grains that taste similar enough to rice that it would be hard to tell the difference, or maybe even a grain that I can mix in with the rice in a 1:1 ratio that would complement the flavor and thereby decrease the total amount of arsenic consumed? What about cooking the rice with some sort of absorbent material that could soak up some of the arsenic? (no idea if such a material exists, activated carbon perhaps?) Thanks.




    0
    1. My friend – just go to the Asian market and buy Thai Rice (i use Umbrella brand) or indian rice. Imported rice does not have this problem.




      0
      1. I looked at the original consumer reports study: https://www.consumerreports.org/content/dam/cro/magazine-articles/2012/November/Consumer%20Reports%20Arsenic%20in%20Food%20November%202012_1.pdf The Thai rice was not much lower in arsenic than any other variety. The Indian rice was significantly lower but it still contained a fair amount. So you’re right that Indian rice is a better option but it still seems like something you wouldn’t want to eat in excess.




        1
  26. I do eat rice in moderation, white and brown and just got tested for heavy metals, my arsenic was low so I will keep eating a variety of rice and re-test in one year.
    Could Dr. Greger please review/debate/debunk the science on natural anti-nutrients in plant foods? (ie lectins, oxalates, phytates) Especially related to the research of Dr. Gundry and whether eating high lectin foods should be yellow or red???




    0
    1. Hi Vanessa,

      Dr. Greger has a series of lectin videos coming out in a few weeks, as this is much-requested topic! Are you subscribed to the videos via email, so you are sure to get them as soon as they are released?

      Kate




      0
  27. This whole series has caused me to undergo an interesting amount of self reflection, because its one of the cases where a food inherent to my cultural diet is being implicated as a health risk

    I’m asian american. Rice is basically life for an asian, especially one who is of partial Japanese descent (3/4 of my racial heritage is Japanese). Rice was ESPECIALLY central to Japanese culture, to the point that historically, rice was used as money and taxes were paid for in rice at one point.

    A lot of times we blame culture for why we eat a certain way, regardless if news reports start clamoring that it is harmful. Its why people laugh at and dismiss claims that meat is cancer causing.

    For once I suppose I understand how that feels, although I will admit I feel like this case is a little different since rice as a crop doesn’t inherently contain arsenic, and brown rice consumption DOES actually show health benefits in some ways.

    That said, it has also made me reflect how Japanese attachment to rice, especially white rice, has historically damned them in the past – White rice was especially prized because of its pristine color and flavor and texture, and being able to eat white rice regularly was a sign of wealth. But white rice is lacking in nutrients, and its popularity led to portions of the population developing beriberi (a case to note: the second-to-last-shogun of Japan was only 20 years old when he died, and beriberi was implicated in causing his death, how tragic is that).

    As stated before, Japanese people paid their taxes in rice, so peasant populations tended to mix portions of other grains such as millet and barley and job’s tears into their rice for eating to help stretch it along and make it last. But because people only did this when they financially were required to, a stigma of poverty became attached to eating grains other than rice.

    Today in japan, other grains aside from rice (and buckwheat or wheat in the form of noodles and bread) are rarely consumed. Barley-and-rice in Japan is definitely regarded as cheap and nutritious, but because of that it is also fed to soldiers, prison inmates, and schoolchildren, which also causes another kind of stigma to be attached to it.

    Basically what I’m trying to say is other grains like barley are just as japanese (and asian in general) as eating rice. And maybe Japanese people should start rethinking of rice as a status symbol and start eating these other grains again as part of their regular diet again.

    on that note, I’ve reduced my rice intake because of these videos (but its really hard to totally break from the rice habit, I’m working on it…) I’ve started cooking rice in portions of 1:1 barley and rice, with also a small handful of lentis thrown into the rice cooker pot. So far its working out well.




    2
    1. Hey Nalani,

      This is a really important point you make about the cultural implications of all of these studies, and I hope that many others see it. Thank you for sharing your story and interpretation of this research.

      Although I’m not Asian American, I studied in East Asia for a few years and also have many friends of Asian ancestry. I definitely came to respect and gleefully look forward to rice as the basis of my meals. What is the point of chopsticks if there is no rice to eat with them? It is quite unfortunate that industrial farming, pesticide use, and pollution have most impacted such a staple, nutritious crop. Like you said, the issue isn’t inherent to rice, but these rice studies are making rice sound more like a perpetrator of bad health than a victim of industrial (and animal) agriculture. For Americans who aren’t of Asian descent or who aren’t Asian-American, eliminating or switching out rice would seem easy. But I can’t imagine how hard it would be if eating rice were part of my upbringing and culture. For this reason, I say that in addition to informing people of these risks, we must also be activists and outspoken advocates for cleaner water, less industrial pollutants, and less use of arsenic-laden pesticides. I think more research should be done on the implications of these studies, including how many millions of individuals globally rely on rice as their staple food source, and how many of these other regions are impacted by arsenic.

      On an unrelated note, I wonder how much of the “nocebo” effect may also play into this (Do the Pros of Brown Rice Outweigh the Cons of Arsenic?). If every time we eat a food that is inherently good for us (brown rice), and we overplay the bad parts of it (arsenic in the ppb) rather than focusing on the good (phytonutrients, fiber), is it possible that our own negative perception of what we eat could impact our health?




      0
      1. This is a good point. The state of the neuroscience research seems to be telling us that what we THINK translates physiologically. So, if you become convinced that a food will harm you (cause an allergic reaction, or stomach pain, or skin eruption, whatever) there certainly is a greater risk of this becoming true. I’m not sure if the reverse is true, though; I can’t imagine someone eating a burger and fries and telling her/himself “This is GOOD for me!” and having that translate into better health…




        0
  28. I believe we need a variety of foods. Whole grains add vitamins and fiber to our dit. It may sound cliche but moderation is the key!




    0
  29. Since boiling brown rice as you would pasta reduces the arsenic levels, what about Success rice products? They come previously par-boiled and are cooked by immersing the rice packaged in a perforated bag for 10 minutes to complete the cooking process. The Consumer Reports data only listed uncooked rices and Success is not included. I checked their website and was referred to the industry PR site which explains that arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in many foods. Could Success brown rice move up to a Yellow or Green food?




    0
    1. Mike, I don’t know the answer to your question….but I also will eat packaged rice from time to time. Rice is the only grain my body will tolerate so I eat quite a bit of it. (Hence I’m relieved to see no association with cancer.) I often buy the whole grain brown rice that is pretty much cooked in a package….you open it up and heat it in the microwave. I use this when I travel and have to cook something for myself in a hotel microwave. What I do is rinse it thoroughly before cooking. If I have the time, i will even it soak it some before heating.

      I wonder if you could do that with the Success rice? Soak it for an hour and toss the water before cooking?

      I try to soak all the rice I eat prior to cooking….even my rice cereal….

      Best,




      0

Leave a Reply

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

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This