Brown Rice Arsenic Warnings, Nutrition Benefits

I can't imagine a week going by without at least 2 dinners including rice as a side dish or part of a recipe, it is such a versatile grain.  Rice, especially brown rice, contains a number of healthy nutrients.  Though many have been using rice cookers for a long time, I recently purchased my first!  Read on to learn more about this delicious grain.


Arsenic Alert: Some years ago, the news was full of information about the fact that there is arsenic in rice at levels that were dangerous to our health.  Unfortunately, this news is true. At this 2018 update, I'm not sure of the current status, but would imagine caution is still needed. Others have taken the time to write in detail about this, and links to their articles follow.  In the meantime, this is what I am doing to help reduce the possibility of ingesting too much arsenic.  Once again it appears pesticides play into this, in particular the pesticides that were used in the past in growing rice in the US grown in areas that used to grow cotton seem to have higher levels. Again, read the links I will provide for you shortly.
  • I am not eating brown rice until more information about it's safety is available, as brown rice seems to have more arsenic in it than white
  • I am eating other grains in place of rice, including Barley, Quinoa, and even Rye Grain or Bulgar Wheat depending upon the recipe
  • I will continue to use the  Rice imported from India, that I have been using as what I am reading says there is significantly less arsenic in some imported brands.
  • When cooking rice, it is suggested that you rinse it well, then cook it in more water than it will absorb, and when it is finished cooking, drain and discard the excess water.  This will mean giving up our rice cookers for some types of rice until we know more.
  • Don't drink rice milk
  • Find alternatives to rice baby food
Those are just a few suggestions.  Here are a couple of links that will lead to more helpful links:

Milling is the process that turns brown rice into white rice by removing the outer layer known as the bran layer - this alters the nutritional value of the rice. The complete milling process that creates white rice from brown rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. In short, brown rice is a fiber-rich whole grain whereas white rice is simply a refined and nutritionally depleted processed food.

In March of 2006, research reported in the journal Agricultural Research, Nancy Keim and a team at the USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Center studied 10 women age 20-45 who ate a whole grain diet for three days, then ate the same foods but with refined grains in place of whole grains. Blood samples at the end of each 3-day period showed that the refined grains diet caused a significant increase in triglycerides and a worrisome protein called "apolipoprotein CIII" (apoCIII), both of which have been associated with increased risk of heart disease.

At the University of Utah, in a study of over 2000 people, a team led by Dr. Martha Slattery found that high intakes of whole grains, such as brown rice, reduced the risk of rectal cancer 31%. They also found that a high-fiber diet, 34 grams or more of fiber per day, reduced rectal cancer by an impressive 66%. The findings were published in the February 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In a Study presented at American Heart Association Conference, March 2006, overweight children, age 9-15, spent two weeks on an all-you-can-eat diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein, while exercising 2.5 hours each day.  University of California researchers led by Dr. James Barnard reported that in just two weeks, the children's cholesterol levels dropped an average of 21%, while insulin levels fell 30%.

As we approach each New Year, we encourage parents everywhere to consider guiding themselves and their children down a healthier path by replacing processed and refined grains with healthy, natural whole grains such as brown rice.  The healthy habits that your children learn from you while young will stay with them and be passed on for generations to come. 
This is one small change that can make a BIG difference.


Updated 11/21/18

Image Credit: pasrasaa on Pixabay

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