Rice of the Arsenic


by Rin Yeo

In most Asian countries, rice is a staple in our diet. However, did you know that it could contain high level of arsenic as well? The way we wash our rice may attribute to how the arsenic is getting into our system, but have no fear because there is a way to cut down on the effects of the harmful amounts of arsenic!

If you think that simply by washing and draining the rice is sufficient to have it boiling in a pot, think again. Researchers have found that by doing so, any arsenic that is washed away by the water is simply reabsorbed by into the rice. And if you are eating rice frequently, the amount that piles up in your system will definitely be a cause for worry!

The reason behind the high levels of arsenic in rice is due to the flood plains that they are grown in – arsenic from the soil is absorbed into the crop itself. As such, there is up to 10 times more arsenic that is present in rice than in any other food, even if it’s of ‘acceptable limits’.

So how do you prevent this problem? The answer: Cook rice in a percolator! However, not all percolators would work – only drip-brewer types with a filter section do. By doing so, up to 85% of the arsenic will be removed from the rice. The downside? It will take up to 20 minutes just to prepare white rice this way, and 40 minutes for brown rice.

That said, researchers are currently trying to produce a percolator solely for cooking rice, although it would not be ready in too near a future. In the meantime though, if you are still worried, you can cut down on the amount of rice that you eat – who knows it might help you lose some weight too in the process!