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Is rice safe to eat? (Which foods contain arsenic?)

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Arsenic is found in high concentrations in fruit juices, seafood, rice and contaminated drinking water. Arsenic is also found in high concentrations in rice grown in Southeastern United States, which were formerly cotton fields. Farmers used insecticides to kill boll weevils on cotton. Arsenic is now banned, yet it continues to sicken us worldwide (3).

rice contains arsenic due to insecticides used on previous crops

Arsenic is a poison and is in practically everything we eat. Arsenic is associated with cancer and death (1, 2).  Most people have heard that rice contains a substantial amount of arsenic, especially rice grown in Southern United States (3). Look for rice grown in California, India or Pakistan, and boil rice like pasta, rinsing out the rice with fresh water after it’s cooked.

Luckily, there are additional steps you can take to reduce your uptake of arsenic.

Buy filtered water and filter it further by using a home filtration system (2). Bottle water can, and in some cases, has exceed the FDA’s maximum threshold for arsenic (1). Double-filtering water reduces contaminants, not just arsenic.

Fruit juices contain high concentrations of arsenic. Chose organically grown fruit.
Blend the fruit or eat it whole instead of juicing.
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Avoid drinking juice. Blend organic fruits with almond milk or filtered water instead of juice.

Get high doses of omega 3’s from chia seeds instead of fish. Fish contain toxic chemicals such as arsenic.
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Avoid all seafood. You don’t need to be concerned about getting sufficient omega 3’s as long as you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, which contain omega 3 fatty acids. You can also add a tablespoon or two of ground flax and chia seeds to get a super-dose of omega 3’s. Lastly, avoid oils which have high concentrations of omega 6 fatty acids, which make the conversion of omega 3s to DHA and EPA more difficult.

Sources:

  1. “Is Bottled Water Safe? CR study reveals it sometimes contains arsenic.” Consumer Reports: On Health. July 2019. Page 2. Print.
  2. “Arsenic in Food: FAQ. How arsenic gets into foods and what it means for you.” WebMD. December 2011. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/arsenic-food-faq#1
  3. McDougall, John. “Arsenic in Rice.” Arsenic in Rice. Putting Pollution in Perspective, Dr. McDougall Health and Medical Center, Dec. 2014, https://www.drmcdougall.com/newsletters/arsenic-in-rice/. Accessed 27 July 2022.

Why does rice have arsenic?

Arsenic is also found in high concentrations in rice grown in Southeastern United States, which used to be cotton fields, where farmers used insecticides to kill boll weevils. Arsenic is now banned, yet it continues to sicken us worldwide.

Which countries have rice with the least amount of arsenic?

Choose rice grown in California, India or Pakistan, which contain less arsenic. Boil rice like pasta, rinsing out the rice with fresh water after it’s cooked, which will remove additional arsenic.

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