WARNING! You May Be Eating Dangerous Levels of Arsenic!

You may have heard the reports this week about potentially dangerous levels of arsenic found in rice       products.  Consumer Reports and the FDA are both revealing results from independent test they ran on 60 different rice products.  The results are shocking to say the least.

Every single test that was performed found some level of arsenic.   Tests were run on such products as rice milk, rice cereal, rice cakes, and brown and white rice.  Arsenic has been linked to serious health problems such as cancer and heart disease.   The reports indicate that eating even one serving at the highest levels of arsenic found is more than what is allowed in drinking water by the EPA.   While further testing is ongoing, it’s probably a good idea to limit the amount of rice and rice products you or your family members intake.  Especially if you have an infant or small child that is starting out on rice cereal.

It’s hard to avoid arsenic completely.  It’s found naturally in the soil, air, and water.  Which means that it can be found in most naturally grown products such as fruits and vegetables.  The problem with rice is that rice is grown in flooded fields so the arsenic is soaked up in the rice plants and stored in its grains.

What can you do about it?

Check your water system.  If you aren’t on a public water system get your water tested for arsenic and lead.  If you are on a public system, you should be o.k. since public systems are required to test for these things regularly.

If you do eat rice cook it with more water than what is called for.  Usually about 6 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice is a good idea.  This will help eliminate some of the inorganic arsenic that exists.  Make sure to rinse and drain in thoroughly.

Mix up your diet.  Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and always make sure you rinse them thoroughly before eating or cooking.

Try eating other grains such as wheat and oats.  These products typically have less arsenic than rice.  If you are allergic to gluten you can substitute it with quinoa, millet, and amaranth.

The bottom line on all of these is we have to be proactive in what we eat and how we eat it.  We do live in a well-developed country that has checks and balances in place for a lot of what we eat.   However, don’t assume that having the ability to buy something from the shelf, that it is always healthy or risk free.
Here’s to your health!

Dr. K Bennett