Rice is nice, but the problem with this widely-consumed food is that it’s very high in arsenic compared to most other foods. In fact, rice absorbs nearly 10 times as much toxic inorganic arsenic as other cereal crops. That’s because rice is grown in flooded rice fields, making it easy for the crop to absorb the carcinogenic compounds naturally present in the soil. Contaminated groundwater is only making it worse.
The good news is that there are various known ways to reduce the levels of inorganic arsenic in your rice. In a recent study, scientists from the University of Sheffield in the UK examined four different processes for cleaning rice and pinpointed which method works best at removing arsenic but keeping the nutrients. You can find that method below.
Parboiling with absorption method (PBA)
To start with, the researchers suggest you boil a pot of water (four cups of freshwater for every cup of raw rice). Next, add rice and boil for another 5 minutes. Afterward, discard the water (which has now removed much of the arsenic that was in the rice), and add more freshwater (two cups for each cup of rice). Finally, cover the rice with a lid, and cook on low to medium heat until the water has been absorbed.
The researchers say this technique removes about 54 percent of inorganic arsenic in brown rice, and around 73 percent in white rice, while generally retaining the most amount of the nutrients phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and manganese. In addition, the PBA method has been shown to use less water, energy, and cooking time than other cooking methods that are aimed at removing arsenic.
Additional resources: McGill – What is the difference between organic and inorganic arsenic?