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Rice and arsenic: cooking methods to reduce As levels

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by sarah darwins, Jul 23, 2015.

  1. sarah darwins

    sarah darwins I told you I was ill

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    Recent item from Nature based on paper from Queen's University, Belfast:

    article: http://www.nature.com/news/simple-cooking-methods-flush-arsenic-out-of-rice-1.18034

    The Belfast team have patented a "rice percolator", soon to be available for anyone short of kitchen gadgets. Otherwise you can just cook rice the way it's traditionally been cooked in the far east — several rinses of water then cook in an excess of water before draining thoroughly, which isn't far behind in effectiveness (though not the greenest solution). I don't know how rice steamers compare.
     
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  2. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    :lol: :lol:

    Thanks for posting this. I wasn't really aware of the arsenic concerns regarding rice, especially since I didn't eat much of it at all, but since I'm eating more rice now this is good information. Thank you!
     
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  3. minkeygirl

    minkeygirl But I Look So Good.

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    The problem I have with using extra water is that my rice cooker boils over. A real mess to clean up.
     
  4. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    You are not supposed to do this in a rice cooker, its designed to only use just enough water. This is old school technology, in a pot or saucepan.
     
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  5. Richard7

    Richard7 Senior Member

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    sarah,

    as I understand it the several rinces of water are to remove any traces ot the talc (or other abrasive) that has been used to polish the rice.

    It is also worth noting that this technique brings the level of arsenic in brown rice down to about the level that it is found in uncooked polished (white) rice. So if the levels in the brown rice cooked in the method are safe, the levels in steamed white rice are also safe.

    Which I guess means that rice pudding made with polished rice is probably safe.

    which is good.
     
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  6. sarah darwins

    sarah darwins I told you I was ill

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    @Richard7 - so maybe the arsenic reducing tendency of that cooking method is inadvertant?

    Who knew rice was so complicated? And we haven't even mentioned glyphosate ...
     
  7. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem All Good Things Must Come to an End

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    I wonder how much of the nutrients you lose when you throw out the cooking water?

    Since I have increase the (brown) rice in my diet, I have had a little arsenic show up in my hair mineral tests, so maybe I need to do something.
     
  8. sarah darwins

    sarah darwins I told you I was ill

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    It's a really good question. Years ago I always cooked rice in an excess of water, then rinsed with boiling water. But somewhere along the line I picked up the idea that you were "losing the goodness" if you did this and I started using "just enough" water and not rinsing.

    Sorry if I've given you something new to worry about! If it's any consolation, I've worried myself, too.
     
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  9. Richard7

    Richard7 Senior Member

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    glyphosate and, tigers and bears ...

    The rinsing used in traditional asian methods of cooking rice is just to get rid of the talc. You just put the rice in a saucepan with a lot of water stir it round a bit, drain the rice and repeat until the water is clear.

    This new technique with the percolator is obviously new and for the purpose of reducing arsenic.

    you may want to look at
    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/01/how-much-arsenic-is-in-your-rice/index.htm
    they concluded that Californian, Indian and Pakistani basmati were the best choices.

    here is some data from a 2012 study
    http://www.consumerreports.org/cont...r Reports Arsenic in Food November 2012_1.pdf

    looking in the reports it seems that choosing rice from a low arsenic source is pretty important and that then rincing the rice and cooking it in 6 or more cups of water for every cup of rice will reduce the arsenic by 30%, and that the percolator method will reduce it by 80%.

    obviously minimising one's exposure to arsenic is a good idea, but it is not just high in rice
    http://archive.foodstandards.gov.au...nutrientFoods&category=Minerals&nutrientID=AS

    In the above table tuna has about 20x much arsenic as white rice.
     
  10. sarah darwins

    sarah darwins I told you I was ill

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    @Richard7 - we may have been slightly at crossed purposes. The actual study paper — http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0131608 — makes clear the researchers found that, regardless of the intention of the traditional excess water technique it was very effective in reducing As content (around 45%). Their work seems to have been about improving further on that figure.

    Thanks for all the links, which I will read. Obviously the easiest solution is to source rice with a lower inorganic arsenic content in the first place. I eat a lot of rice so I do think it's something worth thinking about.

    Incidentally, the figure / µg given in the Aus food standards table you linked are very different from, say, the UK rice growers association, who aim for levels 4 or 5 times higher than those: http://www.riceassociation.org.uk/content/1/45/arsenic-and-rice.html
     
  11. Richard7

    Richard7 Senior Member

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    I wonder if the UK targets are for dry rice. Those australian figures are for cooked white rice, so the dry rice would be about 10mcg/100g, or .1 mg/kg so equal to the infants target.

    The 30% I quoted for rinsing and cooking in excess water was from the US data. It was just the figure that I had most recently seen, I am not suggesting that it is more accurate.

    I have not been having much rice for the last few years, I went paleo while trying to sort out my SIBO, but grew up eating brown rice a couple of times a week.

    But as SIBO is no longer an issue, I have just purchased 4 kilos of brown short grain biodynamic Australian upland rice, and was contemplating a rice pudding (made with coconut cream).

    so this is timely.
     
  12. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem All Good Things Must Come to an End

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    What is biodynamic rice?

    I also eat tuna regularly - omega fats and all that good stuff. Why is something you (or at least I) would expect to be simple, eating, so complicated?
     
  13. Richard7

    Richard7 Senior Member

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    biodynamic agriculture is just one of the older systems of organic agriculture.

    Some of the things they do seem (from my position as an outsider who knows next to nothing about it) to be woo. But back in the 90s when organic produce was so rare that the health food shops only stocked organic rice (or whatever) from a few providers I always found that the biodynamic rice tasted the best, though I could rarely afford to buy it.

    And I agree Little Bluestem, it should be so straightforward.

    If you read up on rice the issue in much of the US is that arsenic was used as an insecticide on cotton. The issues with heavy metals and PCBs in fish are mostly a product of pollution rather than something inevitable.

    I understand that the deal with tuna is to go for skipjack. Smaller tuna that has not had as much of a chance to concentrate heavy metals.
     

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