Dying for Rice?


Arsenic.  It’s in your rice.  And if you’ve been following the recent hooplah over the high (and potentially cancerous) levels that have been detected, you might be tempted to never eat rice again.  What food IS safe these days??

My response – just don’t eat it (or any food for that matter) at high levels. Ditto for red meat, saturated fat, soy, milk, wheat, and chocolate!  We are so conditioned (or is it human nature?)  to go to extremes when we learn something is either good or bad for us. Flax seeds are good so they’re now cropping up in our cookies. Chia seeds (also high in omega 3) are floating around in our iced teas and sprouted nuts have just been given ocean front property in the bulk section of my Whole Foods.

I can’t imagine living without rice. For starters, I LOVE  –scratch that– cant’ live without, salmon/brown rice/avocado sushi rolls.  But the passion goes back long before I found sushi. I have fond memories of Sunday evenings when my Mom would go on strike in the kitchen, open up the fridge, line up the leftovers on the counter and say, “Dinner’s ready!”  One of the favorite things we would make with the leftovers was Fried Rice – since rice was always one of the offerings on the counter. It was the healthy version – meaning it was always loaded up with whatever veggie leftovers were around and a couple eggs were tossed in. The other two essential ingredients were soy sauce (lots of it) and ginger. Actually, I’m not sure we added ginger when I was little – I think that was a later addition, but I recommend it. Highly.

So since we’re not going to stop eating the stuff, here are a few tips I’ve come across that might help lessen the arsenic levels…..

  1. Rinse it thoroughly. It won’t eliminate all the arsenic but it could reduce the levels by 25 % or so.
  2. Cook and drain it (like pasta). This seems to be even more effective than the rinsing.  But do both.
  3. Choose aromatic rices. Basmati or Thai jasmine rices have the lowest levels of arsenic and the imported ones seem to have even less arsenic than that grown in the US.

Get the recipe for Healthy Fried Rice

Has the arsenic news affected your rice habits?  Fave ways to eat rice?

Related Posts
Savory Millet/Rice “Cakes”
January Lentil Stew (Excellent atop a bed of rice)


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  • http://sunshineanddesign.com/ Sunshine+Design

    Hi there,
    Do you know if arsenic is also found in organic brown rice…?

    • http://www.thesweetbeet.com Michelle Madden

      It’s unfort that the rice we think of as healthier (brown rice) has higher levels, but to be honest, I’m still going to eat brown rice over white. In terms of the balance of danger to health, I still feel like the nutrient benefits of brown win over the potentially higher hazard. (which if you eat it in moderation should not be a concern.)

  • Anonymous

    Yes, arsenic is found in organic rice, and the levels in brown rice are even higher than in white rice. White rice has the bran and other layers polished off. You need to look at where the rice is grown. Avoid US southern rice, especially.

  • AndreiaV

    I didn´t know that! I was thinking about buying some black rise at a chinese store..do you think its safe? Food and water from India has lots of arsenic..

    • http://www.thesweetbeet.com Michelle Madden

      My person feeling (and from what I’ve read) is that ALL rice (due to the way its grown in water) has some arsenic but if you’re not eating it in very large quantities then there is very low risk of it being a major health hazard.

      • AndreiaV

        Actually, i don´t eat too much rice…I prefer portuguese white rice and i think it´s safe :3
        Do you think that black rice from china/thailand has arsenic in large quantities?

  • AndreiaV


  • Emily Elizabeth

    Yikes, I had no idea! Of course I recently got a delicious brown rice sourdough starter going and have been making sourdough bread galore with it (and waffles, pancakes, muffins, and bagels too!). Ah well. I will still keep eating it, but in moderation. Too bad you can’t wash flour!

  • Stefanie

    I’m also crazy for brown rice sushi! Couldn’t live without it. I also really enjoy a recipe I have for stuffed tomatoes ( brown rice and veggie filling). Plus, for Thanksgiving dessert I am planning on making a pumpkin brown rice pudding. Thank you for this post, Michelle. It’s nice to have your thoughts on how to keep living and enjoying ourselves, without going to extremes.

  • gillian

    Shocking! And I just had a delicious bowl of short grain brown rice and curried red lentils…
    Although I shouldn’t be so surprised after reading this Dr Mercola article on genetically engineered foods. SCARY new findings…