Arsenic in rice: how concerned should you be?

If you knew there was arsenic in your food, would you eat it? More importantly, would you serve it to your children?

Recently, Consumer Reports Magazine released their analysis of arsenic levels in rice products, and the results were concerning. Popular rice products including white rice, brown rice, organic rice baby cereal, and rice breakfast cereals, were all found to contain arsenic, a potent carcinogen that can also be harmful to a child’s developing brain.

“In virtually every product tested, we found measurable amounts of total arsenic in its two forms. We found significant levels of inorganic arsenic, which is a carcinogen, in almost every product category, along with organic arsenic, which is less toxic but still of concern.”

The study not only found a significant amount of arsenic in many rice products on the market, but also that arsenic levels in the blood directly increase with greater rice consumption.(1) Several products tested had more arsenic in each serving than the 5 parts per billion (ppb) limit for adults set by the EPA as safe. (2)

What’s worse, many of these arsenic-containing rice products are marketed to children and infants as “health foods”, and children are far more susceptible to the dangerous impacts of arsenic exposure. (345) Research suggests that high levels of arsenic exposure during childhood are associated with neurobehavioral problems as well as cancer and lung disease later in life. (6) This means parents must be especially careful to avoid serving their children food with significant levels of arsenic.

While many of my readers follow a strict Paleo diet and couldn’t care less about arsenic in rice, there are many more who are more liberal in their diet and consume white rice as a “safe” starch. In fact, rice is often recommended by well-educated bloggers such as Paul Jaminet as a component of a perfectly healthy and enjoyable diet. I personally eat white rice on occasion and feel it is a safe starch for those who tolerate it. But now that there is a new issue with rice consumption, one that has nothing to do with carbohydrates, does that mean we should avoid it entirely?

White rice can be a “safe” starch

I don’t think it’s necessary to completely eliminate rice from the diet. The EPA’s 5 ppb per day limit on arsenic is probably what we should shoot for in our diets, in light of current evidence. Many of the white rice products tested had fairly low levels of arsenic, and in the context of a few servings a week for an adult, it’s probably not an issue. As for very young children and infants, I don’t recommend serving them rice products in general, so they shouldn’t be exposed to arsenic from rice anyway. Pregnant women may want to be cautious about their rice intake, and minimize their exposure to arsenic to protect their developing fetus; finding another safe starch to replace rice during pregnancy would be wise.

So if you choose to purchase white rice, buy a brand made in California like Lundberg; their California White Basmati Rice has only 1.3 to 1.6 ppb arsenic per serving (1/4 cup uncooked), well below the safe limit. In addition, rinsing the rice before cooking and boiling it in a high water-to-rice ratio can help reduce the arsenic content significantly. (7) So if you want to keep white rice as a part of your diet, I recommend looking for a safe brand like Lundberg and rinsing the rice thoroughly before cooking in a large quantity of water; this should be adequate to make rice a safe food to eat in moderation.

Brown rice: Not a health food!

Brown rice, on the other hand, has significantly more arsenic than white rice and should be avoided or consumed rarely. Some of the brown rice brands tested contained at least 50% more than the safe limit per serving, and a few even had nearly double the safe limit. (PDF with complete details of test results) Note that some of the worst offenders for arsenic are made from brown rice: processed rice products like brown rice syrup, brown rice pasta, rice cakes and brown rice crisps. These processed products are commonly consumed by those following a “healthy” whole grain rich or gluten-free diet, but they clearly pose a significant risk of arsenic overexposure, especially if a person eats more than one serving per day. Obviously, brown rice is not a food that should be a dietary staple, or even eaten on a regular basis.

#Arsenic: another reason to prefer white rice over brown? Tweet This

Aside from having a higher arsenic content, there are other reasons to avoid brown rice: it’s harder to digest and nutrient absorption is likely inferior to white rice because of phytates in the rice bran. (8) Despite a higher nutrient content of brown rice compared to white rice, the anti-nutrients present in brown rice reduce the bioavailability of any vitamins and minerals present. (9) Plus, brown rice also reduces dietary protein and fat digestibility compared to white rice. (10) In short, brown rice is not a health food for a variety of reasons, and a higher arsenic content is simply another reason to avoid eating it.

No food is completely safe or without some level of contamination risk: vegetables make up 24 percent of our arsenic exposure and tap water can legally contain 10 ppb arsenic per liter (some systems even exceed the legal limit.) (11) So while rice may contribute an unsafe level of arsenic, it’s certainly not the only source in our diet, and we need to be cautious about demonizing an entire class of food based on a soundbite from a news story. While I don’t think rice is a necessary component of a healthy diet, I do think it can be incorporated safely as a source of starch: just be sure to pay attention to the brand you’re buying, as well as your method of preparation.

Is rice a major staple in your diet? Will you continue eating it, or is this arsenic report enough to put you off rice altogether? Share your opinion in the comments below!

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Michelle says

    Organic Brown rice is a staple of my diet. I am very physically active and need the carbs. Plus I prepare it traditionally: I soak the rice in water with a splash of kombucha till the rice sprouts, about 24 hrs. This removes most of the phytates and makes it more digestible. I have been assuming the soaking would also remove most of the arsenic? I change the water about every 8 hrs.

    I dislike white rice because it has no flavor and I feel like it raises my blood sugar.

      • Leah says

        Michael,

        Generally, soaking even in water or salt water is beneficial, especially for sprouting. You can use kefir or whey from kefir or yogurt, and I think water kefir should be fine as well. It’s the bacteria in these probiotics that “pre-digests” the food and releases some of the problematic anti-nutrients. Even just rinsing in water every few hours can induce sprouting.

  2. Tess says

    I’m on a paleo-type diet, so grains of any sort aren’t an appreciable part of my diet. Even so, I have family members that do still consume a good amount of grains, including rice. My question is– where is this arsenic coming from? Is it due to fertilizers or pesticides? Is it a natural consequence of certain regions’ soils? Is it a manufacturing side effect? That would be useful to know.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Mostly pesticides used for other crops. The reason the levels of arsenic from rice grown in southern U.S. states are higher than rice grown in CA or Asia is that those states used a lot of arsenic-containing pesticides to control boll weevils, and the arsenic is still in the soils.

      • Scott says

        I grew up in the cotton-growing South, and know something of arsenic-based pesticides. From the 1930s to 1960s, arsenic was used to control boll weevils. Then, in the early 1960s, arsenic-based defoliants became very popular and likely accounts for the historic residual accumulations. Arsenic was banned as a defoliant by EPA in the early 1990s. Presently, arsenic (MSMA & DSMA) is used commonly on cotton, golf courses, right-of-ways, lawns, sod farms, etc. to control weeds.

      • mike says

        hi Chris- ive heard Bob’s Red Mill claim their stabilized brown rice bran contains no arsenic- because it is grown in California- is this true – or will it still contain lesser but still significant levels. i hope you have an authoritative reply to this to help me choose whether to buy again that product.

      • Laura says

        The arsenic is coming from chicken poop from large factory chicken farms, according to Natural News. These wastes are released into the water and floods cause the water to be deposited on the rice beds. Almost all rice the world over is contaminated, except Indonesia, including most of California. Even organic rice is exposed.

    • Karen Miller says

      I have heard it is coming from the water that they grow the rice in. Chicken is another big source of arsenic! Many articles on this if you Google it. Unless you buy organic your in trouble. My daughter had a high arsenic level so we switched to quinoa instead of rice and organic chicken.

      • barb says

        Good idea to go as fresh and clean as possible, imo. Grass finished – organic – beef, bison, chicken and wild caught salmon — GOOD :)
        I also purchase organic brown rice products but will NOW look to organic white rice as suggested and or others, like quinoa. Just in case. :)

  3. Chris Kresser says

    Michelle: I don’t think it’s a safe assumption to assume that soaking removes the arsenic. It might, but then again it might not. I haven’t seen any data on that either way. Rinsing the rice thoroughly and cooking it in a large volume of water (i.e. a 6-to-1 ratio) does reduce the arsenic content by about 35%.

    • n says

      hi chris,
      what do you mean by 6:1 ratio should that water be dumped off after a length of time or absorbed? can you tell me exactly how you prepare yours?

  4. jamie says

    I still eat white rice and noodles made from it. It doesn’t bother my gut like other grains. I always combine it with a lot of fat.. such as beef marrow/lamb soup with some rice noodles added in.. or rice as a small side with fatty meat/veggies. I find that I need SOME starch.. but mostly get it from sweet potatoes or the occasional fruit/ freshly squeezed grapefruit.

  5. says

    I come from a background where rice is a staple in the dishes we make. That being said I probably only eat it 2-3 times a month and prepare it by soaking over night in salted water and then rinsing thoroughly before cooking, which is how we traditionally prepare it.

    Bit worried about your reference to brown rice syrup as I use this sometimes in baking or as a substitute to honey. When I quit sugar over 6 months ago I started using it since it is fructose free and honey is high in fructose. So now I’m wondering if using it has been a problem!

    • Chris Kresser says

      Based on the research I reviewed, I wouldn’t use brown rice syrup as a sweetener unless you’re using it very rarely. Is there a specific reason you’re trying to avoid fructose?

      • says

        Hi Chris, as I mentioned in my post above I quit sugar a while ago based on an 8 week program which focused mainly on giving up fructose. Why? Because of the evidence that has been brought to light out there such as the talk Dr Lustig gives on the dangers of fructose, plus the book ‘Sweet Poison’ by Australian author David Gillespie and a few other studies I’ve seen.

        I realise that not all fructose is created equally (i.e. in fruit for e.g.) but these studies show that too much can be harmful.

        Not sure what your thoughts are on this matter. I’ve stopped using honey a long time ago but this has made me think.

        • Chris Kresser says

          I don’t agree that there’s any evidence suggesting that naturally occurring fructose in moderate amounts is harmful. Excess fructose from HFCS and fructose-sweetened beverages is harmful, especially in the context of metabolic problems. But that is not a reason to avoid small amounts of honey as a sweetener.

          • says

            How much is a small amount? Luckily for me I don’t bake very often so it’s not too much of a problem.

            Also would you recommend raw honey?

            • Chris Kresser says

              A teaspoon or two a day if you don’t have blood sugar issues (might even be fine if you do). Yes, raw honey is better.

                • BS says

                  Tapioca syrup tastes great and is technically a “safe starch” so you can count it towards your glucose needs. Obviously you wouldn’t want to use it like crazy as it doesn’t have much for nutrients but I often use it for 100 calories or “safe starch” in my day.

            • says

              Dr. Mercola had interesting articles on fructose and to not go above 25 grams per day. Moderate amounts should be ok and this should really apply to those that have other health issues, etc.

          • emily scott says

            I was so happy to find your articles on health. Then, I realized that you and Dr. Mercola, another favorite, do not agree on fructose and MANY other things, so now I am disappointed. Do not tell me just to do what agrees with me. That is too slow, complicated, confusing in a busy life. A life without everything that grows naturally; fruits, whole grains, nuts….seems unnatural. And soaking so many things, esp. nuts. That frustrates me. I can accept a lot about the food industry, big pharma, but I feel my main concern is to eat less. Probably your book would help.But computer searching, three newspapers, working out, the office, house chores are my daily basics. Balancing insulin shots and diet for over fifty yrs. is a job. Did I have a leaky gut at age 8 when Type I diabetes struck? I don’t think I could undo all my life. I do eat 97% organic, but that obviously isn’t enough. I want to get back to my uninformed happy as opposed to informed worried. I think you can empathize. ES

            • Jim says

              Emily, I agree with you 100 %(dare I say 1000%). “He says eat this, she saids do not touch and someone else says maybe” As in most of life-do everything in moderation. It is very difficult for me to believe white rice has much if any nutritional value. It is my understanding that most grains, etc. also have an enzyme, which negates much of the anti-nutrients when grains are soaked and even more when grain is sprouted! It is really hard to know who to believe!!

          • Tony says

            To discover the dangers of fructose, see Dr Lustig’s research and talks. There is an excellent YouTube talk by him, “Sugar – The Bitter Truth”. Fructose is fine when consumed as part of fruit, but in moderation, since the fibre in the fruit helps the body cope with it. But squeezed fruit juice isn’t good, it’s just a concentrated source of fructose, which is rapidly coming to be regarded as a toxin, related to all sorts of conditions, including cancer and heart conditions. As I understand it, naturally occurring fructose, consumed in it’s natural state is OK. So raw honey should be fine also. But everything in moderation.

  6. alex says

    re: white rice and children

    we just started feeding lundberg white rice to our three year old – in rotation – because he’s sensitive to nightshades and sweet potatoes….; we’ve been following the Perfect Health recommendations for safe starches. Aside from the arsenic, do you not recommend white rice for young children because of potential gut issues? lack of nutritional value?

    • Chris Kresser says

      Mostly because there are other more nutrient-dense starch choices, and my concern is that some kids have a tendency to get pretty addicted to stuff like white rice. But I don’t think it’s a problem if the overall diet is very nutrient-dense and white rice is limited to a few servings a week.

      • Katy says

        We eat ALOT of white rice at least 2-3 times a week. I buy the organic basmati rice from Trader Joes, I’ve heard the basmati rice is safer is that true? While I don’t “soak” it I do always rinse it several times before cooking and I doubt the water to rice ratio (1cup rice 2cup water) bring it to a boil and then simmer. I have three young children who eat it and I’m nursing one more…..do I need to make a change?

  7. esteri says

    Hi Chris,
    I have been taking a tablespoon of stabilized rice bran daily since it is a super food. I read recently that the benefits of staiblized rice bran outweighed the negative concerns. What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of stabilized rice bran. Is a tablespoon of this a day worse than eating a bowl of brown rice?
    Really appreciate your writing on many topics!!!!

    • Chris Kresser says

      Since the toxins, including arsenic, are concentrated in the bran, I wouldn’t do it. Why are you taking it? I’m sure whatever effect you’re looking for can be obtained from another food or supplement.

  8. Donna Dee says

    I heard a report that rice is being grown in the U.S. where cotton was previously grown and hence the soil is heavily contaminated with toxins, including arsenic.

  9. Meesha Donohoe says

    Now, we generally only have white rice with our sushi and I don’t think a bit of arsenic will keep me from eating sushi! I have never liked the taste of brown rice enough to make it. I think I had a bag in the pantry for a few years before I just accepted that, when given the choice, I would always choose white so I finally threw it out. Now I don’t even think we have rice in the pantry at all.

  10. says

    Any insight as to the differentiation between organic and inorganic forms of arsenic in rice (naturally occurring vs. industrial byproduct). From what I have read on chelation of organic vs. inorganic minerals, this is an important differentiation to note. Also, what about organic arsenic at very low doses being a necessary trace mineral? The consumer report didn’t seem to mention either of these points, but since plain rice had the lowest levels and processed rice products had the higher levels, I have a hunch that there is an inherent amount of organic arsenic in rice but processing adds in additional and undesirable inorganic forms.

  11. says

    My mother-in-law just got diagnosed with increased levels of arsenic in her blood. She is Cuban and a big rice-eater. I actually didn’t quite believe her until I started reading the reports. She also has weak kidney function which (I’m sure) contributes to build-up of toxins in general. If you HAVE been exposed to arsenic, what can you do?
    Nina

  12. Tim Lundeen says

    The tests reported at the Lundberg web site show comparable arsenic levels to other US-grown rice, they could not repeat the Consumer Reports results. So the low levels found by CR are not typical, and we’ve stopped eating Lundberg.

    The best rice we’ve found is from Lotus Foods, http://www.lotusfoods.com/, which is all imported from areas with very low arsenic. Also, the rice they buy is grown with low water levels, which also helps reduce arsenic uptake. Their test show extremely low arsenic levels, on the order of 0.15mg/kg for brown rice.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Tim:

      According to this link:
      http://www.lotusfoods.com/Faq.aspx

      Total arsenic content average for Lotus rice is .008 mg per 1/4 cup serving. They have not tested for inorganic arsenic content, but it would presumably be lower (some percentage of total).

      For comparison, the inorganic arsenic content of Whole Foods White Basmati is .0035 mg.

      Assuming the inorganic arsenic content is about half of the total for Lotus Foods, seems to me it’s roughly the same as the Whole Foods White Basmati.

      According to this link on Lundberg’s site, the average content of inorganic arsenic in their products (including both brown and white) is 95 ppb. The Consumer Reports article found an average of 64-76 ppb for Lundberg white rice, which is about what you’d expect if the average (including both brown and white) was 95. This corresponds to an inorganic arsenic content of .0013 to .0016, which would be even lower than the Whole Foods White Basmati and presumably the Lotus Foods rice.

      Do you have other information that contradicts this?

      • Mark says

        Hi Chris

        In your article you say the EPA arsenic safe limit is 5 ppb. Most of the rices you have linked to in the consumer report (including the Lundberg variety) are 50-150 ppb. How can they ever be safe, or am I missing something?

        • Chris Kresser says

          The metric is that a liter of water with 5 ppb of arsenic exposes you to 5 mcg of inorganic arsenic. That’s the number you want to be concerned with, in the right-hand column. Any rice that exceeds the 5 mcg number would exceed the equivalent of drinking one liter of water with 5 ppb arsenic.

  13. Patty says

    What other produce is grown in wet type environments that could also have arsenic problems? A quick google showed peas, beans, watercress.

    I too have been using the germinated brown rice but see the arsenic correlation with ungerminated conventional brown rice on the report. I would expect that cooking germinated brown rice using the recommended excess water, and then draining all that off, would also result in little nutritive value for the germinated brown rice, so what’s the point of ingesting it?!!

    I was pleased to see the Lundberg’s taking a proactive stance and aiding the investigations “because it’s the right thing to do”.

  14. Holly says

    Do you have any idea whether the arsenic “survives” when the rice is broken down and the protein is extracted? I use a product (by Metagenics) that contains rice protein and wonder whether the same precautions apply.

  15. Fala says

    I eat white rice a lot, and eat brown rice on occasion. I also eat other starches/grains, but LOVE well made, high quality rice (like Lundberg or other organic brands.) When I eat brown rice, I soak it overnight prior to cooking. This is yet another example of “know your food”, where it comes from, how it was grown, etc. I wonder how long it will take for those fields to have the excess arsenic leeched from it into our food, before those fields are back to pre-pesticide levels? Probably a very long time.

  16. Kathleen says

    What about “organic” GF pasta made with organic brown rice flour. We offer this on occasion to our three young boys for emergency quick meals when short on time. We use the Jovial brand.

    • Chris Kresser says

      According to the Consumer Reports analysis, that brand has between 2.7-3.0 ppb per 1/4 cup of uncooked white rice. If you limit daily consumption to that level, and you’re not getting a lot of arsenic from other sources, that should be fine.

  17. michael says

    Preference for brown rice over white rice seems to be an artifact from conventional understanding of cereal grain consumption: that there are more nutrients in whole form versus refined. Ironically, the anti-nutrients in bran are more impactful than its beneficial nutrients. I understand everyone’s preference for texture is unique, but given it’s relative scarcity in prepared foods, brown rice seems like something that’s convenient to forego.

  18. Nastia says

    Some dishes we make at home can’t be made well without rice (stuffed peppers, pilaf), and also we use rice flower when “breading” is needed. So we won’t drop it completely. We don’t eat it every day through.

  19. Naomi says

    Hi
    I use to eat minimal amounts of grains but always followed the weston price methods of soaking. Do youthink these methods work to make the grains more digestible and breakdown the phytic acid?
    I currently am on day five of no grains of starches and am blown away how light and amazing i feel!

    Thanks

  20. Kristie says

    I eat alot of white rice. I am gluten free. Could you give specific brands to buy? Or point me in the direction of Consumer Reports test results? Thank you!

    • Shelley says

      I am very frustrated as well. I find out it was sugar and the wrong foods that was causing all of my health issues. It was hard to make all the changes and yet here I am again facing change.

  21. david says

    Chris,
    You’ve mentioned the advantages of bacon, but I’m curious what your opinion of it’s advanced glycation end product content is and whether this should be a reason to avoid it. Cordain’s latest book lists bacon as having the highest age product level by far.

  22. Greg says

    I’m really bummed by this. White rice has been my go to starch for a myriad of reasons not the least of which is convenience and it really helps me fuel my cycling.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Greg: most varieties of white rice on the Consumer Reports list were within the safe limits for a 1/4 cup serving of uncooked rice per day. No reason to eliminate it completely; just be smart about where you get it.

  23. Jax says

    Re: arsenic, why are the levels high in fruit juices, esp. apple juice? Is it also high in apples, or is there something else going on in the juice production process that adds arsenic?

    Thanks, J

    • Laura says

      The apple seeds (as in some other fruits like apricots) are high in arsenic. I would imagine that the pulverization used in the juice making process releases the seeds’ arsenic into the juice.

  24. Oksana says

    I am 22 weeks pregnant and don’t seem to gain a lot of weight with the Paleo diet, so I added more organic white basmati rice and sweet potatoes. Thank you so much for your article, I will stop the rice consumptions.. Just trying to protect the little one, which is not easy in our world..

  25. says

    Interesting stuff and a little concerning. I live iin part of Devon, England, where much of the arsenic came from that used to control the boll weevil in the USA cotton. When tin ran out they went for the arsenic in the same mines. This is back in the 18th-19th century but we thought it ironic to have the arsenic shipped back in the cotton and now in rice. Many gardens around this part of Devon are contaminated with arsenic and the growing of root vegetables is not advised. Don’t know if the USA used CCA as a pressurised wood treatment for fence posts etc. CCA (Copper, Chrome, Arsenic) was banned in 2005. A wound from a splinter from that wood used to take months to heal.

    The trouble I undestand with arsenic is that it’s an accumulative poison. However small the amount you consume, it stays in the body and slowly builds up. Please someone tell me that this isn’t true.

    It was the slow build up of arsenic from the green dye in wallpaper that supposedly killed Napoleon while in exile and William Morris the designer had shares in an arsenic mine near here. Some wallpaper in stately homes has to be covered to prevent wandering hands from absorbing the arsenic.

    Esteri – Puzzled to hear rice bran described as a super-food. I thought all bran was indigestible and linked to irritable bowel syndrome. I guess rice bran is different to that of other grains.

    • Chris Kresser says

      This is true of many toxins in the environment, and the reality is that we’re exposed to them in many different ways. The good news is that we have some ability to handle a low exposure, which is why the safe limits for many are not “zero”.

      • says

        But doesn’t multiple exposure, however low, if accumulative, become one large exposure? Those scraping the white arsenic from the sides of horizontal flues it condensed on wore only damp cloths over their heads and mouths yet were reputed to be some of the healthiest around. There is no record of how their average lifespan may have been changed for better or worse.

    • Chris C says

      A cursory look online seems to imply that glutathione helps detox arsenic from your body. Helping to insure good glutathione status certainly wouldn’t hurt in any case.

  26. kem says

    What a well written and informative article, from you and consumer Reports… something good from America. I was particularly interested about the source of the contaminant outlined in CR. We eat little to no rice, I can’t do it, really, after surgery and radiotherapy for oral cancer, and we try to get most of what we eat from our property. Thanks to Dr LaLalond decriminalsing potatoes, I now feel no guilt getting my carb calories from our own varieties fo that marvelous tuber, the biggest source of vitamin C in NZ. Fat chance growing ric or sweet potatoes on the SI! (We do ruminants better than anyone)

    Thanks for the heads up and, as always, looking forward to the next post.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I don’t specifically, but from what I’ve read rice from both India and Asia is lower in inorganic arsenic than rice from the southern U.S. states.

      • Rene says

        Where I live in Iran, Indian rice was announced to be unsafe due to high arsenic levels by the health ministry a few years ago (They said the arsenic stemmed from high levels in the cultivation soil) and it’s much cheaper than the Persians brands here.The import of some specific brands was even banned a few years ago.

  27. Rachel says

    Thank you! The white rice vs. brown rice comparison is news to me. I feel bad that I’ve been recommending brown rice to people. White rice can’t be that nutritious, so I would recommend skipping it for something more nutritious. I’m off grains now for health reasons. Anyone with a heavy metal toxicity might consider giving up rice altogether.

  28. Cathryn says

    Makes me wonder if soaking for several hours or overnight, rinsing well, then soaking for another 3-4 days and rinsing before cooking has a positive affect against the arsenic. I use only CA grown sushi rice or organic white basmati from India (Trader Joes). It ferments nicely and tastes delicious. I happen to like rice sort of gooey so using lots of water is no problem.

  29. Amy says

    This is very interesting thank you. Does anyone know about Australian grown rice and whether arsenic is a problem here too?

  30. Daria says

    Thank you for a very timely and balanced article, Chris. I’m concerned about certain supplements that use rice bran oil, for example Magnesium Citrate Softgels and gamma E complex from NOW Foods. I always thought this was a better alternative to ubiquitous soybean oil. I contacted Consumerlab (a subscriber) about it as Gamma E Complex by NOW foods has passed their testing. Haven’t gotten a reply so far, but they may be testing for lead only.

  31. Evan says

    Rice is a huge staple for me, sometimes consuming it at all three meals. Because of multiple food allergies my diet consists of mostly rice, carrots, peas, beef, dark chocolate, cocnut oil, some fruit and sometimes fish. But in the last month I’ve started to develop chronic hives, breaking out at least once most days. Now I’m worried I may be overdoing the rice. Do you think arsenic could cause hives?

    • Allison says

      Hi Evan,

      You may be an undermethylator (produce excess histamine), they are prone to outbreaks of hives. Sometimes food can exacerbate it but there is usually an underlying problem to be addressed.

      Here’s an easy to understand explanation of methylation: http://www.enzymestuff.com/methylation.htm

      If you can find a functional medicine practitioner who treats methylation, they can confirm if you’re an undermethylator and help you to address it. The most straightforward marker of methylation status (though it’s imperfect) is whole blood histamine.

      Good luck!

      • Evan says

        Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out. That’s not something that I had considered. I know that one of the underlying issues for me is likely SIBO or a gut infection since I’m fairly thin and have fat malabsorption. I hope I can find a functional med. practitioner to work with. After countless appointments and testing with traditional doctors & $1500 out-of-pocket, all they were able to tell me was that I have IBS which is pretty much a useless diagnoses.

    • John says

      Hey Evan,
      If I were you I would do a quick experiment and eliminate the dark chocolate and the rice for 4 days and clear it out of your system. Then reintroduce one of these at a time and see when and if the hives persists. Would be curious to see if it makes a difference for you. I have found that the dark chocolate to excess for me does it. Good luck

      John

      • Evan says

        Thanks John for the recommendation, I’ll try it. Hopefully I can find a good substitute for the rice… it’s such a convenient carb source (which I need for my work), but very may well be causing issues. Also will try eliminating chocolate.

    • says

      Both white rice and brown rice have a lectin in the chitin-binding lectin family that is often the cause of hives or escema in the people who consume it.

  32. Adrienne says

    Rice is served in our house 1-3 times per month. White rice is the rice of choice. Family doesn’t really miss it. We eat Paleo, but still add in some “safe starches” occasionally. Thanks for all the great info.

  33. Margaret says

    Hi Chris

    Don’t you think the arsenic can be eliminated from the body through cleansing methods? If other toxins can be cleansed out e.g. mercury, lead, why not this one?

  34. says

    Great article, Chris. I live in Japan, so this is a big issue for us over here. Brown rice isn’t very popular here due to the preference for white rice’s taste and texture, but brown rice is known as a health food here, as well. A lot of ex-pats still prefer brown rice over white, so I’ll be sure to spread this article around among my peers. Thanks!

  35. says

    Americans are paranoid about everything. Think of the literally billions of people on this planet that eat rice every day in amounts that are much greater than anything an American would consume and are fine. This includes their children. End of story as far as I’m concerned.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Tell me what billions of people eat more brown rice and processed brown rice products than Americans. The vast majority of rice consumption in the world is white/polished rice, and as I pointed out in the article, white rice is lower in inorganic arsenic than brown rice – especially if it comes from India or Asia (where most rice is being consumed). So I’m afraid this isn’t the end of the story at all.

      • says

        I didn’t say anything about brown rice. You misread my comment. I was speaking about white rice which you mention above as having arsenic. I maintain my assertion that Americans are overly paranoid about what they eat. My wife, who is Chinese, laughed at the idea theist WHITE rice could be bad for you because of arsenic.

        Furthermore, many Asians do in fact feed their young children rice or gruel made from rice.

        Here’s the quote from above which I was referring to:

        Recently, Consumer Reports Magazine released their analysis of arsenic levels in rice products, and the results were concerning. Popular rice products including white rice, brown rice, organic rice baby cereal, and rice breakfast cereals, were all found to contain arsenic, a potent carcinogen that can also be harmful to a child’s developing brain.

        • David says

          Edward Brown,
          Perhaps you have not received the news that we currently have an epidemic of disease going on throughout our civilization. Children’s autism and other diseases are now at highest ever levels in the history of society.

          The majority of civilization is asleep, like yourself, because you happily partake in the Roman bread and circuses, while our children are getting more and more disease.

          If you choose to continue chowing down on the arsenic, go ahead, but at a minimum please do not do that to your children.

          Before leaving any more messages broadly displaying your ignorance, I recommend you get a little more education on these subjects.

          Thanks

          • says

            lulz.

            David,

            I highly recommend you read this article by Dr. Kurt Harris, a colleague of Chris Kresser. I suggest you read it before you make any more comments here or elsewhere:

            http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/2/28/proof-that-orthorexia-exists.html

            (In case you’re too stubborn to read it, I’ll summarize: people worry too much about food.)

            Also, get a life. There’s no need to try and make this conversation and disagreement over food safety personal. It can be hard to accept that people have different views than ours, and also that other cultures do things better than we do.

            Here’s my simple advice:

            If you like rice, eat white rice in moderate amounts.
            If you don’t like white rice, or can’t tolerate it for some reason, eat brown rice, unless you’re highly concerned about arsenic, in which case EAT SOMETHING ELSE.

            Life isn’t fair.

            Also, don’t give your child apples to eat, because, well, gee, the seeds have arsenic in them (and so does the juice). Of course I’m being sarcastic.

            I highly recommend everyone read this article on webmd:

            http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/arsenic-food-faq

            Basically, arsenic is in lots of things, including your drinking water. My point isn’t to scare you into not drinking water, drinking juice etc. My point is, life is full of hazards, and for crying out loud, relax.

          • Laura says

            David, While I probably do worry more than I should about the food I eat, I am very aware that no one else is going to do it for me. And I do indeed think its important to try to protect the innocent little children who rely on us to protect them. Still I think its important to realize that the high autism rate is much more likely to be from the excessive number of mercury-laced worse than useless vaccinations pushed onto our little ones than the food. Still when I see the children sick from cancer on the St. Jude’s Hospital ads on tv, it hurts me to know that at least some of it could have been prevented had their parents and they been given only clean, chemical free (non-GMO) food and water.

        • Tylor says

          Your chinese wife laughed when you quoted an expert about the dangers of arsenic in rice.

          My dad laughed when I told him beer was bad for him. He’s dead now. Liver cancer.

          Keep laughing.

          • Lisa says

            How do you know his liver cancer was caused by drinking beer? Was he an alcoholic that abused his liver or a moderate, occaisional beer drinker? No one would recommend abusing alcohol, including Ed Brown I’m sure. If he did abuse it then it may have contributed. But the idea that moderate beer caused it is suspect. There are cultures for which beer is a staple and they don’t have huge liver cancer problems. Ed is right. Americans but particularly Paleos are orthorexic and probably do far more damage long term by the stress, worry and deprivation they impose on themselves. I say this as someone who did Paleos for 10 plus years. It is a relief to be done with it. I’ve gained little if any weight and feel much better.

  36. Alison Moore says

    As Paracelsus famously once said, “the dose makes the poison”. There are many carciogens in all types of food and even in our own bodily fluids (eg. breast milk). We can’t avoid everything just because it containts micro-quantities of something carcinogenic! The amount is crucial.

    Are the amounts in rice above the toxic level for humans as determined by peer-reviewed evidence-based biochemical research?

    I really think that the best way to avoid such problems as much as one can is just to eat a wide variety of fresh foods (avoiding the obvious things which have other issues of endocrine disruption, bone reabsoption, inflammatory triggers etc…), and not too much of any one thing. Our knowledge is so fragmentary. Even if we knew all there is that has been established about which foods contain carcinogens and avoided them all, we would no doubt still be consuming carcinogens in other foods which had yet to be identified at problematic.
    I will continue to eat the odd bit of rice here and there and continue to avoid making it a habitual food.

  37. says

    what about rice from the far east?
    do you have any data on that?
    cause the rice where i come from (israel) is usually from thailand, china and india.
    i guess it’s not heaven there either…. but am not sure about arsenic specifically

  38. Kirill says

    I eat 2 cups of Lunberg organic long grain white rice almost every day. It’s not on the list, so I don’t know the levels. Their California Basmati is over $1 more, but I might still have to go with it. Archer Farms Org. Basmati seems almost equally low. Though with more of the inorganic form, as well as extra lead and cadmium(thanks, Target :) ). Haven’t done white sweet potatoes in a while – will give them a go as well to see if they cause trouble.

  39. Leah says

    Chris, do you know of a good way to detox or “chelate” arsenic from the body? Because it builds up, right? So we should all be taking measures to somehow get rid of it, right? Do you have any suggestions, like zeolite or clay or other foods that might help the body expel accumulated arsenic?

    I know last year aquasana came out with a specific water filter to deal with arsenic in the water supply, so that might be something to look into.

    Also, do you know anything about rice imported from Asia? In the bay area (as you know) there are a lot of rices from japan and China. I’ve been to China and they have terraced mountainsides in the country dedicated to rice production. Though China is very polluted, from what I’ve seen the rice may be least affected. Do you know anything about pesticides used there that may be present in their rice?

    What about organic rice? Does it have similar arsenic issues?

    • Chris Kresser says

      Organic rice has the same issues. If you follow the link to the Consumer Reports article, you can see a chart with test results for several organic and non-organic varieties. I haven’t looked very far into water filtration of arsenic; thanks for the tip on the Aquasana filter.

      The studies I’ve read, and the Consumer Reports article, suggest that Asian and Indian varieties are lower in arsenic than rice grown in the U.S. south. That said, I’d probably stick with varieties that have been independently tested, like Lotus or Lundberg, to be sure.

    • L says

      Leah, yes, Zeolite, clay, charcoal, herbs, and avoidance. But at least you’re thinking the right way. I think its important to counteract any poisons we aren’t even aware we’re ingesting or breathing in or absorbing on a day to day basis, so I would add these to my daily routine if I concerned with detoxification. I personally do use these and do not rely on it to “magically evaporate” or whatever others who choose to dismiss it may think. It does accumulate and there are many ways to try and rid the body of it (and other poisons) but it’s always best to just stop exposing yourself to it. Do not rely on ‘safe levels’ theories spouted by govt’s who are trying to stop panic. If it accumulates, it will kill you. End of story. Avoid it altogether. Don’t even put your body in the position to have to deal with such an insidious toxin. Like you wouldn’t leave your house unlocked when you go to work everyday and try to stop the damage after you’ve been robbed, day after day, doing the same thing every day… you’d learn once (or be proactive and avoid from the first) and lock your house, instead of focusing on damage control. Once you get these diseases, like neurological diseases, they do not “go away”, they’re there to stay and make your life painful and helllish until you die. You can’t reverse it. It’s too late by the time you find out you’ve got it. Prevention is the best defence, as well as daily detoxification strategies. But like smoking, why do it at all? There are so many foods you can use instead of whatever it is that is poisoned. This also makes a stand to those in power, that covering the earth in man made chemicals is unacceptable to you and you won’t sustain the industry that continues to prop itself up with poison. That you’ll give it a wide berth and do something else rather than give them your money for rotten food and poison yourself to death. Now that’s empowering.

  40. Jef Joris says

    My wife is breastfeeding.
    Is there any chance of the arcenic entering her breastmilk when she eats white rice?
    Should she avoid eating white rice entirely?

    • Chris Kresser says

      If she sticks with CA varieties of white that have been tested and limits consumption so that she’s significantly below the recommended targets, I don’t think it’s a problem.

  41. Shelley says

    I recently bought jasmine cargo rice. It is delicious. My entire family liked it. I was annoyed by the amount of rinsing I had to do. I guess this article explains it. The product is from Thailand Rose brand.

  42. Grace says

    At this point I am far more worried about the massive amounts of cesium in half of the shipments of rice coming from Japan and China than I am arsenic.
    Revamp all global export laws with uniform legal standards and definitions for organic products. Millions of people have been fueling the healthcare industry for decades because of toxic foods.
    Billions in tax money spent for convenience foods and the resulting medical fees could be going into creating jobs and rebuilding our cities.

    • Knack says

      The package of Earthly Choice 100% whole grain black rice I bought has instructions on its package:
      Rinse rice under cold water before cooking.

      When I did so, the effluent was bluish-black drainage, which looked identical to the drainage from black beans. All beans must be drained before cooking in order to remove harmful lectin compounds. So what is the point in choosing black beans/rice for their antioxidant content, if pre-rinsing them leaches those (dark colored) antioxidants away along with the arsenic and leptins?

      From Wikipedia article ‘Lectin’:
      Foods with high concentrations of lectins, such as beans, cereal grains, seeds, nuts, and potatoes, may be harmful if consumed in excess in uncooked or improperly cooked form. Adverse effects may include nutritional deficiencies, and immune (allergic) reactions. Possibly, most effects of lectins are due to gastrointestinal distress through interaction of the lectins with the gut epithelial cells. A recent in vitro study has suggested that the mechanism of lectin damage may occur by interfering with the repair of already-damaged epithelial cells.

  43. lisg99 says

    Hi all – I was wondering about organic rice milk? Don’t eat rice – but my treat is a latte with rice milk – is that full of arsenic? Thanks

  44. says

    I’m glad you pointed out that many (most?) other foods also contain arsenic. If it’s in the soil, plants will grow, some will uptake it more than others, and we or our food animals eat those, and it comes to us. If people can smoke into their 70s and 80s (my friend’s dad smoked until 83, then shot himself to avoid a slow painful smokers death), I can eat my bloody rice, especially the brown stuff, and not worry about it.

    I hope they soon examine the heavy metals in cows and pigs, not just fish, soon.

    • L says

      I hope you’re not going to shoot yourself when you have neurological disease such as Parkinson’s from toxic accumulation all your life…. your hands won’t be steady enough from the crippling and debilitating disease.

      There is a difference to “man made / inorganic” arsenic and “naturally occurring / organic” arsenic – one the body DOES need in minute trace quantities, the other simply doesn’t do anything but accumulate and interfere with the human body’s normal functions and eventually kills them slowly, painfully. This for some reason most people ignore. Naturally vs man made is the answer when people say “oh well, it’s in everything anyway” – nature did not mean for you to eat inorganic minerals your body cannot use. This is the key. Man made minerals are toxic,,,, natural minerals are in the right quantities naturally without human $$ intervention, so you won’t overdose or be poisoned by the trace quantities of ORGANIC arsenic in naturally grown food.

      Accept govts poisoning your foods at your own peril. Your death means nothing to the “big corporate wheel” who rely on ignorance, brainwashing and laziness of the little people to continue to poison themselves and pay money to do it, even if it kills them and they know it….. tsk tsk. You have choices, please don’t give them up.

      And yes, you’re on teh right track, let’s make those in power examine all the other ways they force us to ingest unnatural chemicals… let’s also not forget the mad cow disease epidemic due to “cannibal cows” to try and save money…… this world has gone mad and corrupt for the sake of money.

  45. Mike Lucas says

    We don’t eat much rice, but I do make a huge batch of fermented buckwheat & rice-flour pancakes weekly. The kids eat them for breakfast (along with bacon) almost every day. Luckily it’s white rice flour — I used to use more buckwheat, but rice flour is a lot cheaper and I find about a 40:60 mixture of buckwheat to rice flour tastes best.

    Lately I’ve been adding a more “real” starches into the pancakes — various combinations of mashed banana, leftover sweet potato, or pumpkin. (These really enhance the flavour!) So I’ll take this arsenic warning not as a reason to completely avoid the white rice, but just to favour the buckwheat and real foods more.

    Pancakes recipe here: http://paleohacks.com/questions/130685/has-anyone-made-fermented-buckwheat-pancakes/134020#134020

  46. says

    Thanks so much for writing about this topic. The Consumer Reports study finally generated enough people to talk about the problem with arsenic in rice. It is the last study in a long line of studies dating back at least to 2007. Just in Feb 2012, the Dartmouth study brought it to light. I started a petition over on change.org when I wrote about the Dartmouth study in February for my blog, Green Talk. I was so upset over the fact that 1) everyone in the industry including the FDA and EU knows about this problem. Don’t you think five years is enough time to do something about it? and 2) it is solvable agriculturally: don’t flood the fields. Experts say that the yields are better and lower arsenic levels. Lotus Food is living proof. Alternatively, develop a less sensitive rice grain. A Purdue professor is working on this right now. Here is the link to the petition. I am worried about all the people who don’t know about the problem or who dismiss the problem. They don’t know the long term effects. Should we wait until that shoe drops? http://chn.ge/xJGMe5. Please sign and share.

  47. Lynn says

    Thanks Chris for another great article. I eat perhaps two servings a month of Tinkyada Brown Rice Penne. I queried Tinkyada and below is their reply. I will rethink even two servings per month as if I am correct, their figure of 0.20-0.23 ppm equals 200 – 230 ppb, which is well over the 5 ppb considered safe/day for adults by the EPA

    “We are aware of the report indicated in your e-mail. Over the years, there have been similar reports and we are confident that the authorities have been reviewing them too. Rice has been a major staple for many people, and we believe that these consumers should seek further and complete information as to the extent that rice consumption may affect their health.

    All the rice we use comes from Arkansas, U.S.A. From our sample analyses, the arsenic level of our brown rice pastas appears to be in the range of 0.20 – 0.23 ppm (parts per million). Our understanding is that all rice contains arsenic and that many food contain arsenic too. Even though it does not appear that there is an adequate scientific basis for recommending drastic changes in the consumption of rice and rice products, it may be advisable to focus on a varied diet before a clear and thorough result from investigations has come out. Like what the report says, we should limit our exposure, and we would note that the report contains their recommended limits on rice and rice-product consumption for both children and adults.

    We shall keep a close watch of the situation. At this moment, we feel that we should be on the alert and not alarmed, and that a moderate approach toward food consumption will be good guidance.”

    • Chris Kresser says

      The proper metric for food is milligrams per kilogram or micrograms per gram. You want whatever rice you consume to have less than 5 mcg of inorganic arsenic per 60 gram serving (which is roughly equal to 1/4 cup).

      • Lynn says

        Okay, so how do I figure the inorganic arsenic content of a 1/2 cup (cooked, approx. 1 oz dry) serving of penne from the 0.20 – 0.23 ppm or 200 – 230 ppb figures? Math makes my head hurt….

  48. Emma says

    Hi Chris, I am currently 26 weeks pregnant with my second child, and have been consuming a moderate amount of white rice in conjunction with a healthy diet. I heard about the arsenic in rice on the Dr Oz show and have since been rinsing my rice in warm water prior to cooking to remove arsenic residue. Would you suggest that I avoid rice altogether for the remainder of my pregnancy? I am not too concerned because my overall diet is relatively healthy. I consume lots of vegetables, fruits, raw milk, organic eggs, and healthy fats like coconut oil etc. I think I would be more concerned if I was eating too much in the form of takeaway foods, sugar or trans fats. I was surprised to learn that brown rice is a less healthy option, when compared to white rice, due to phytates, and now arsenic! I used to think brown was the healthier option… Luckily I have been eating mostly the white stuff! Thank you for you information.

  49. Mary says

    What about the Rice Krispies (both cocoa and regular) and the arsenic issue?
    We used rice cakes for my Aspies due to they didn’t like rice for the BRAT diet after flus when they were all emptied and used yogurt with it in the stomach as an early easy to digest food; albeit that was yoplait. I know about the sugar issues, but now I’m concerned we released more of the poison on emptied intestines/stomachs. They had a lot of flu as one of their illnesses one developing year in particular. Oh NO!!!!! I never served rice most the time over the years though, but now I wonder about arsenic in other products.

  50. Gigi says

    Personally, I find that brown rice digests more slowly than white, and therefore has less impact on my blood sugar. I eat Lundberg Organics Short Grain Brown or Brown Jasmine, perhaps once a month. Even when Hubs and I did the McCombs Candida Plan (www.mccombsplan.com) we ate it perhaps once a week. I don’t think I’ll worry too much about it, unless I were to become pregnant (I’d be of quite advanced maternal age if so).

  51. Lisa says

    Hello,
    I was wondering about Wild Rice…is that the same as brown rice?

    I am GF, dairy free and not great with corn. What pasta can I eat? Are you familiar with the product called “miracle noodles”? Do you know anything about them?

    Thanks so much!

    • Chris Kresser says

      It depends where it’s grown. If it’s grown in the southern U.S., I’d imagine it has similar arsenic levels to brown rice.

    • Mike Lucas says

      Hi Des, I would guess that since you are only using approx 1 tsp of the tea, and since only a small amount of that is rice, the amount of arsenic you’d be getting in your cup of tea would be very small. In fact, I’d be more worried about the fluoride content of the tea itself (which luckily appears to be lower for loose-leaf teas than tea bags — that’s why I switched to loose-leaf tea).

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the tea leaves contain some amount of arsenic too! But it’s the amount you’re exposed to that matters.

  52. Tayona says

    Hi Chris,
    I hope this get to you. I am a first time mother of a 6 month old who is breastfeed. She has just started solids, mainly veggies. I was told by her pediatrician to start feeding her rice cereal. I am very very hesitant and have yet to give her any due to all this news about the aresenic.
    I have been frantically researching trying to find the rice with the least amount, or an alternative but Im not sure what to do. I make my own baby food so I purchased the ludenburg brown rice from whole foods. But per your article brown rice the most arsenic in it. I don’t want to deprive her of nutrition, this whole this is really stressing me out.
    Can you give me any sugesstions on what rice to give or a healthy alternative like sweet potato??

  53. ttr says

    Minor grammar nit:
    The phrases below don’t make sense.
    ppm is a ratio, not a quantity.

    10 ppb arsenic per liter
    5 ppb per day
    1.6 ppb arsenic per serving
    3.0 ppb per 1/4 cup

  54. al says

    Chris,
    have there been studies that prove that brown rice + rice bran are actually less nutritious than white rice due to the phytates etc? because cattle are fed rice bran and absolutely thrive on it in a mixed ration. its a high quality feed rich in vitamins and minerals.

  55. Ed says

    It is a known fact that different plants have an affinity for different minerals. Since rice is selectively taking up arsenic (mineral) from the soil, wouldn’t you think that over time the arsenic concentration in older rice paddies would decline, thus reducing the arsenic levels of the rice grown in them?

    Is it possible that the growers somehow (inadvertently) replenishing the arsenic back into the soil? Would you like to see a study on this?

  56. Johanlm says

    I am a tad suspicious to tests like this for the reason that there is no counterparts aka other nonrice products to related to.
    Like, what is the levels in;
    wheat
    maize
    oat
    potatoe
    soy
    peas
    ?
    MUCH better, equal/simillar, MUCH worse?
    As it is now, one might go;
    “Oh no! Everything with rice is extremely dangerous, I must switch all the rice to x!”

    And this might be just the same as rice or maybe even worse.

  57. Isa Rose says

    I have been looking into this rice business for a while now, I hope some one might be able to offer some sound advice. I discovered I had a wheat allergy shortly after the birth of my first child almost 10 years ago. I ended up eating alot of organic brown rice products (rice pasta, rice bread, rice cereal, sometimes milk, rice cakes, etc), and naturally my child ended up eating alot of the same things. I am truly scared to learn that I have been feeding something potentially dangerous to my child and myself for years. I am so scared that I have done harm to my child (during her most sensitive developmental years), and I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve cut out all of our rice products, but we will occasionally eat white rice I’ve called my child’s physician, who was unfamiliar with the rice/arsenic connection, and she told me not to worry, that arsenic tends not to accumulate in the body, and to just cut back on the rice consumption. But should I be doing more? We’ve been eating lots of brown rice for years, what should we do to take care of ourselves and minimize the risk of harm? Are there any treatments or detox therapies that are safe? Is it necessary or recommended? I don’t really know who to turn to for help with this. What I find horrific is that this arsenic/rice connection has been known about for years, and all these products for kids with rice ad rice syrup are marketed, I just don’t understand it, it makes me so angry. I’ve tried very hard to feed my child healthy and organic foods, and it was so frustrating to learn that our main staple food (organic and from a health food/natural market store), is laced with a carcinogen. Any advice? I would really appreciate any help, thank you.

    • BS says

      Hi Isa,

      I am not a professional health care giver but I have spent 100′s if not 1000′s of hours reading Chris and other paleo authors like Paul Jaminet of PHD fame. I personally have a son who is almost two and I want to relieve you of your parent guilt/worry, I know when it comes to your kid you want nothing but the best and don’t want to hamper any development. I would not be to worried about the arsenic content of brown rice from past exposure and here is my thinking why
      1.) kids are extrememly resilient, I was fed hot dogs once a week pretty much the first 18 years of my life, not to mention every kind of processed food you can imagine and I am of normal intelligence and above average whit ;) plus I have no physical conditions or anything. Obviously every person is different but if your kid is not showing any signs of problems things are probably ok to this point.
      2) if you feed your child a pretty healthy diet already than their detox systems should be in pretty good shape and most likely haven’t had huge amounts of trouble in dealing with the arsenic. By discontinuing the high arsenic foods for a while and then recontinuing them with moderation in the future you should be alright. Be sure you are getting rice from either the west coast or india, these are of the lowest levels tested.
      3.) if your kid is only getting toxins for a couple place they are wayyyy ahead of most kids, I know with my son we try and be 80/20ish like Chris talks about. High quality organic nourishing foods 80% of the time and 20% of the time we make exceptions with limits of course

      I have recently bought tapioca syrup from barry farms and it tastes so much better than rice syrup with non of the arsenic.
      My advice would just be to make sure you continue to have lots of high quality foods in your childs diet, I like to sneak things into smoothies and alike. Spinach in berry smoothies, dulse in soups. etc.
      Some good foods to premote detox are high quality whey, high Vitamin C foods and sulfur rich foods.

      You are doing a good job because you are here asking the questions:)

  58. Isa Rose says

    Thank you for your reply, it does provide some comfort. Still, I worry about potential long term effects. It makes you feel a bit helpless, when you’ve been unknowingly feeding your child potentially harmful foods, but like you said kids are very resilient. The only symptom I can think of is that she did complain of muscle weakness for a time, her physician did a complete blood count with electrolyte panel, and all looked normal (she thought anemia possibly, etc). The weakness has since subsided, and we are no longer eating rice (very little and not too often), I wonder if there was a connection there. Thank you again for your reply, and for the helpful suggestions, it is very much appreciated! :)

  59. walterbyrd says

    Problem is: *everything* is a carcinogen. Sunlight, water, the air you breath, you name it. We are all exposed to innumerable carcinogens everyday.

    But at what levels are these really toxic?

    Have there been worthwhile studies that provide strong evidece for what constitues toxic levels of arsenic?

  60. Ed says

    Chris, Is there anything people can take that will bind to arsenic in our bodies and carry it out through excretion?

  61. Gina says

    I’ve been eating black rice because it has a much higher antioxidant level plau I like the taste and texture. Does anyone know where this would fall on arsenic levels and or glycemic index?

  62. Andrei says

    I would like to know if Japanese rice such as Nishiki Brown Rice or Jasmin Rice have high arsenic levels. I have been eating it with dinner almost every night. I was hoping that they don’t use as much insecticide over there.

  63. says

    O no, I am currently on a recommended liver cleanse of only brown rice (jasmine organic as could not locate basmati here in thailand) and mung beans with a little cilantro.

    To detox and cleanse: so am I actually creating toxins? So confusing, all the contrasting ‘health’ advice

    thank you

  64. Jens Ole says

    Don’t stop eating rice – stop drinking water!
    If EPA says it’s safe to consume 5 ppb per day You could only drink 0,5 L water in 24 hours!!!
    How is it possible we focus on rice when the drinking water is so polluted that it is only safe to drink 0,5 liter per day?
    Here in Denmark the Ministry of Health says that 1 rice cake contains the same amount of inorganic arsenic as 0,5 liter water… what’s the biggest problem – the rice or the water? I would say the water, because I drink 3 liters per day and that could be roughly 30 ppb arsenic a day!

  65. Alex says

    Hello. I’ve been on a budget so I recently ate 11 lbs of Lundberg brown rice in less than 4 weeks.. That’s about 25 1/4 cup servings a week. Did I do a lot of damage to my brain and body? Thanks for the article!

  66. Lorena says

    My family personally eats a lot of rice. We now eat only Lundberg’s rice, and continue to rinse it as we always have. I think this is sufficient.

  67. Andrei says

    I would like to here an opinion on the safety/arsenic issue for imported brown rice from Japan. Could it be that they don’t have a history of use of insecticides that cause arsenic in US rice?

  68. Paul says

    About the dietary benefit of the brown rice I am afraid you are mistaken by the very important principle that complex carbs are always much less glycemic and less fatening than simple ones!

  69. Caroline says

    What is the best way of detoxifying the body from arsenic? My son has eaten rice and rice products all his short life due to multiple allergies. How can I safely get it out his body?
    Thanks!

  70. Mike says

    I think the entire asian continent and asian people living in the West whose staple food is rice are going to die early. ;) or maybe not? I mean some of the asians, especially the Japanese, have set records as oldest people. And fish, which is considered toxic and full of mercury, are also big in their diet.

    Lesson, everyone is going to die. Eat in moderation ;)

  71. Terry says

    There seems to be some confusion in Chris’s text between “ppb” and “micrograms per serving”. For example, the Lundberg Basmati rice had 1.3 to 1.6 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per 1/4 cup serving. (Since ppb is essentially a fraction, it doesn’t change with serving size.) The link to the Consumer Reports pdf only has ppb numbers, but the article in their Nov 2012 paper magazine shows total arsenic in ppb and inorganic arsenic in micrograms. The New Jersey drinking water limit of 5 ppb equates to 5 micrograms of arsenic in one liter of water (1000 grams), but for cooked rice, the relationship between the two is less clear.

    The Dec 2013 issue of CR mentions that in September the FDA tested 1300 samples of rice products and found similar arsenic levels in most cases. They found even higher levels than CR in some rice beverages.

  72. Katie says

    I am currently suffering from multiple food allergies and rice is all I have left. Is there anything you recommend for someone who has to make rice a large part of their diet?

  73. Donna says

    Katie, you can go grain-free– it’s OKAY. It’s a myth that we NEED grains in our diet. We need carbs, yes, in proportion to how much physical activity we get. But you can get plenty of carbs from vegies (especially roots), fruits, legumes, etc. There is no nutrient in grains that is not found in greater abundance in other, healthier foods. You will not starve. And you will probably be healthier. Same for the woman wondering what to feed her baby. Like dairy products, grains are a food OPTION, not a necessity.

  74. Jared says

    Fortunately, by properly boiling rice (the way it was traditionally cooked) you can remove much of the arsenic content. Cooking rice in a rice cooker actually concentrates more arsenic than what was in the rice before cooking, adding to the health concern. Healthy cultures have been eating white and brown rice for centuries — it’s more about what it’s eaten with and how it’s prepared!

    • Ed says

      Jared,

      Is there any proof (lab tests) that preparing the rice this way somehow removes the arsenic? What does a rice cooker do that causes it to retain more arsenic and how does the boiling method resolve that issue?

      Ed

      • Jared says

        Hey Ed, yes there are several studies that indicate boiling rice in ample water reduces arsenic content (which I link to in my article on boiling rice (http://creationbasedhealth.com/how-to-boil-rice). The reason cooking rice in a rice cooker contributes to higher levels of arsenic is that there is arsenic in drinking water. So, when the evaporative/rice cooker method is used, the water either evaporates or is absorbed, leaving any arsenic that was in the drinking water behind, increasing the amount of arsenic consumed with the rice.

        • Ed says

          Jared,

          It is erroneous to say that your cooking approach reduces arsenic in the rice, since it does not remove any that is already in the rice. Rather, it avoids or mitigates the introduction of additional arsenic from cooking water that may contain it. My water is from a well which is tested and heavily filtered including stages that remove any arsenic.

  75. says

    By Gary Ginsberg, PhD

    Elevated levels of arsenic in foods and infant formula that are sweetened with rice syrup have been found, as shown in new research from Dartmouth College. The data demonstrate the gaping holes in the regulation of our food supply, which is not a new story. But there is a new twist here: Rather than the problem being imports from other countries (see my recent blog on fungicide in orange juice from Brazil), in this case, it’s the domestic product that is more contaminated. Why should rice raised in the US be the problem? Well, cotton on to this one.

    Major portions of the US cotton belt have been converted over to rice production, so much so that the US south produces 12% of all rice on the planet. The majority of rice consumed in the US is domestic. Cotton fields historically received high doses of arsenic-based pesticides and this arsenic is still sitting in the topsoil. When you flood fields creating rice paddies, the arsenic is mobilized and goes right into the crop. The good news is that it’s toxic to rice, causing a syndrome called “straighthead disease”. That should have been enough to kill the concept – why produce rice with high levels of arsenic, a well-known nerve poison and carcinogen?

    The US Dept of Agriculture’s research into rice cultivars that are resistant to arsenic has been a huge commercial success in the southern heartland. They are still doing research to improve rice production in high arsenic soils. To be fair, the USDA is also doing research to try to find cultivars that don’t become so highly contaminated by arsenic. But this research is not protecting the American public from the bad idea of growing rice on old cotton fields. This is tinkering with the US food supply to maximize profit with minimal thought given to food safety. Its sister agency, the FDA, does not even have safety standards for arsenic in rice.

    Fortunately, the Dartmouth research points out the dangers of growing arsenic-resistant rice. In this case, they tested products containing organic brown rice syrup, a processed sweetener derived from rice. There is obviously something wrong with the organic label if you can call something grown on high-arsenic soils organic. But aside from that, the compounding of mistakes is mind-numbing. Taking a crop high in arsenic and concentrating it down into a syrup and then putting that into baby formula – sounds almost like a terrorist plot on a TV drama. Unfortunately, it’s actually happening. And it’s even more outrageous when considering that simple sugars and empty calories are a risk for diabetes. This effect is now combined with arsenic, a chemical that can decrease pancreatic function and is linked to diabetes.

    The Dartmouth research found two brands of infant formula that contain the rice-based sweetener. The inorganic arsenic concentration in these brands was double the federal drinking water limit and five times higher when you add in the methyl forms of arsenic that also have some toxicity. And the daily dose per body weight for an infant on this formula would be 10 times higher than what the US EPA’s reference dose for arsenic dictates is safe.

    The take home messages at this point are:

    Parents of infants: Avoid formulas that contain rice syrup. Apparently most don’t, but read the label. The two brands Dartmouth studied with high arsenic are Baby’s Only Organic Dairy Toddler Formula and Baby’s Only Organic Soy Toddler Formula, both made by Nature’s One.

    Everyone else: 1) Rice syrup: Minimize consumption until we know more. A little is no big deal and it’s not in that many things. But if it’s in the things you like (for example, higher-end snack bars), you will want to moderate. Since high fructose corn syrup has its question marks, I’d head in the direction of honey or plain old sugar. If you stay away from refined highly sweetened foods to start with, you are way ahead of the game. 2) Rice: Imported rice is lower in arsenic; look for whole grain (brown) basmati or jasmine rice, which come from India and Thailand, respectively.

    FDA: Do more testing, especially of baby rice cereal. As baby’s first solid food, it’s urgent that we get arsenic data on rice cereal from the US.

  76. says

    Forgive me if this sounds like an infomercial!

    We are a boutique (small), independent rice grower on the island of Mauritius (actually, the only rice grower in the country) growing a naturally cross-pollinated rice variety. We cross bred varieties originally with the intent to find a variety with a low glycemic index and we succeeded in this regard. However, when the Consumer Reports study on Arsenic and Rice in the US came out, we decided to send samples of our rice to a lab in Seattle to test for Arsenic, especially Inorganic Arsenic.

    For both total Arsenic and Inorganic Arsenic our rice yielded below the Limit of Detection (<9 ppb). Looking through the arguments regarding why some rice varieties in specific geographical settings have lower arsenic than others, I can only say for us that a confluence of factors came together purely by luck.

    1. There was a British study that claimed that Bangladeshi rice varieties from the village of Sylhet had a stronger resistance to uptaking arsenic from the soil – some of the lines we had been cross-breeding for years came from this particular village.

    2. It was mentioned that the flooded paddy fields contributed to rice absorbing more arsenic from the soil. We grow our rice exclusively on dry soil, depending on rainfall for irrigation. This was not our original preference but borne out of water shortages in Mauritius and the unsuitable terrain.

    3. Some have claimed that use of arsenical pesticides in the past resulted in the ground water being contaminated. The land we are growing our rice on used to grow sugar cane, however it was a poor sugar cane estate and I doubt any chemicals were ever used in the past as the ground water is drinking water quality.

      • says

        Hi Lisa,

        Our rice is called Mighty Rice and we have just entered the US. It is currently available in a range of stores in Seattle but we will be in all Sprouts Farmers Market stores in the beginning of May.

        • Tim Lundeen says

          Herman, can you make it available online somehow? I would have to drive 60 miles to get to my closest Sprouts Farmer’s Market.

          • says

            Hi Tim,

            We’re working to get it online soon, as well as into more stores across the US. In the mean time, if you (or anyone else) would like a sample bag, please drop me a mail through our website (www.mightyrice.com). I would be interested in any feedback.

  77. n says

    hi chris,
    i am breastfeeding my daughter and found i needed more carbohydrates and a strictly paleo diet left me starving all the time so i recently introduced the lundberg sweet brown rice. is it best to avoid rice altogether while nursing or just switch to white? if its unsafe any other suggestions for complex carbs? i was sweet potatoed out. i was still eating a variety of other things like parsnips turnips ruatabegas beets but still starving so introduced rice as well. or any other diet advice while nursing? thanks!

  78. Zarren song says

    if i use rice bran in my kidney diet what is the possible side effect ? can i take an medicine while drinking rice bran?

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