Here’s another one of those situations where I thought I was eating something halfway healthy years ago, only to find out later that may not have been the case. I used to be big on rice cakes….loved to top them with peanut butter or tuna fish salad. Great on-the-go snack, right? Then I learned about aflatoxin, a mold that’s often present in peanuts. Next bubble burster was the high levels of mercury in tuna. Now, even rice cakes have come into question. But it’s not just because they are overly processed or that we’re being urged to eat less grains in general. Rice, even the organic brown basmati rice that I thought was definitely a healthy choice for so many years, is now making the news for containing worrisome levels of arsenic. And a new Consumer Report had the headline that just one weekly serving of rice pasta could put a baby at risk for arsenic poisoning. What the____?!
Julie Wilson, a staff writer for Natural News, talks about the situation in a recent article……
A new analysis by Consumer Reports explains how easy it is for infants to consume dangerous amounts of arsenic in common foods like hot rice cereal and rice pasta. Just one serving of rice pasta can put your child over the recommended weekly limit, according to the new report, which also details safer alternatives for grains including quinoa, buckwheat and basmati rice grown in California.
A 2012 investigation by Consumer Reports discovered “significant levels” of inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen, in a range of rice products including organic, conventional and gluten-free rice.
Inorganic arsenic found in most rice products
More than 200 rice products were tested, with inorganic arsenic showing up in nearly every “…product category along with organic arsenic, which is less toxic but still of concern.” Organic arsenic is considered to be less or nontoxic to humans and is naturally occurring within the earth’s crust.
Despite warnings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that there are no “safe” levels of exposure to inorganic arsenic, federal limits regarding arsenic levels only apply to drinking water and not food products.
However, in July 2013 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed to limit arsenic in apple juice following widespread consumer concern after Dr. Oz and Consumer Reports found that 10 percent of juice samples from five brands tested positive for arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking water standards.
New research suggests eating a variety of grains to avoid exposure to arsenic
The most recent testing performed by Consumer Reports provides new information on the risk of exposure through rice cereal and other rice products. After reviewing data released by the FDA in 2013 on the inorganic arsenic content of more than 650 processed rice-containing products, the monthly magazine found that rice cereal and rice pasta had more inorganic arsenic compared with their data from 2012.
The new results concluded that just “one serving of either could put kids over the maximum amount of rice we recommend they should have in a week. Rice cakes supply close to a child’s weekly limit in one serving.”
The report also found rice drinks to be high in arsenic, recommending that children under five avoid them at all costs, drinking milk instead. Consumer Report’s 2012 recommendation that babies eat no more than one serving of infant rice cereal per day, instead adding a variety of grains to their diet, remained unchanged with the new results.
Regular arsenic exposure can increase your risk for bladder, lung and skin cancer
Aside from increasing your risk for developing numerous cancers, regular exposure to small amounts of arsenic can cause heart disease, type 2 diabetes and affect the immune system of unborn babies.
Consuming grains like millet, buckwheat, basmati rice and quinoa lower your exposure to arsenic, according to recent data, but white rice grown in Texas, Arkansas or Louisiana had the highest levels of arsenic. Brown rice also had high levels as arsenic accumulates in the grain’s outer layers, which are removed during the white rice process.
“White basmati rice from California, India, and Pakistan, and sushi rice from the U.S. on average has half of the inorganic-arsenic amount of most other types of rice, “states the report.
Gluten-free grains amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and polenta or grits had negligible levels of inorganic arsenic. Quinoa (gluten-free), bulgur, barley and faro all had low levels as well. Researchers note that some samples of quinoa had “quite a bit more” arsenic, but levels were still low compared to rice.
It may be possible to reduce your exposure to arsenic by thoroughly rinsing any type of raw rice before cooking, and using a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup of rice, making sure to drain any excess water before eating. Previous research suggests rinsing raw rice removes about 30 percent of the rice’s inorganic arsenic content.
And here’s a very helpful table put together by Consumer Reports to see how the rice products you’re eating measure up. Note that the date on this chart is 2012 and in the article above it mentions that in 2013 they found more arsenic than in their 2012 testing, so dangerous amounts could have increased for a number of products…..
Personal Note: Hmmm, I used to drink a lot of Rice Dream, thinking it was a good alternative to regular milk, but judging from the list, I guess that wasn’t necessarily true either. Boy, this trying to be healthy can be complicated, eh?
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Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.