Even though arsenic in rice can be scary, there are a few ways to reduce your risk of consuming it.
Although rice has a reputation as being a healthy whole grain, there are still lingering concerns over consuming this beloved pantry staple due to the potentially high levels of arsenic some varieties carry.
Along with being a known carcinogen, arsenic is also linked to a higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It naturally occurs in the soil, so arsenic can be found in everything from drinking water to wine, and that's why it's often present in rice varieties (which grow in large amounts of water).
Instead of removing rice from your entire diet, there are several options for reducing arsenic when it comes to buying and cooking this workhorse grain.
Check Your Sources
Rice from different regions will contain different levels of arsenic. The options with the least amount of arsenic, according to Consumer Reports, are sushi rice from the U.S. and white basmati rice from California, Pakistan, and India. Avoid Texas rice if you can, since it is reported as having some of the highest levels of arsenic from any growing region.
Change Your Cooking Technique
There are a few different ways of cooking rice that can help reduce the amount of arsenic. For the first method, soak your rice in water overnight. After draining and rinsing your pre-soaked rice, cook it in a 1:5 ratio (one part rice to five parts water), and drain excess water before serving. Cooking it this way is reported to remove 82 percent of any present arsenic. If you're short on time, you can just cook the rice in the 1:5 ratio, which will remove 57 percent of present arsenic.
Mix Things Up
Even if you buy your rice from a low-arsenic region and cook it in the method above, there's likely to still be a slight amount of arsenic left in the cooked grains. If this is a major concern for you, it may be a good idea to halve the amount of rice you use for recipes and replace the other part with another nutritious whole grain. Some varieties with low arsenic levels include quinoa, buckwheat, and millet.