New research has revealed the best way to cook rice to remove over 50% of the naturally occurring arsenic in brown rice, and 74% in white rice.
Arsenic is water-soluble and accumulates in rice that is grown in flooded fields. It is known to accumulate in rice in ten times the amounts of other cereals. Exposure to it affects almost every organ in the body and can cause skin lesions, cancer, diabetes and lung diseases.
A new study by the University of Sheffield, published in Science of the Total Environment, tested different ways of cooking rice in order to reduce the arsenic content and found a clear winner.
The "parboiling with absorption method" (PBA), removed most of the arsenic, while not removing the micronutrients in cooked rice. The PBA method involves parboiling the rice in pre-boiled water for five minutes before draining and refreshing the water, then cooking it on a lower heat to absorb all the water.
Dr. Manoj Menon says: "For rice consumers, this is excellent news. There are genuine concerns amongst the population about eating rice due to arsenic. Previous studies have shown that cooking rice in excess water could remove arsenic but the problem is it also removes nutrients.
"Our aim was to optimise the method to remove arsenic while keeping maximum nutrients in the cooked rice. Our newly developed method, PBA, is easy and home-friendly so that everyone can use it. We don't know the amount of arsenic in each packet rice we buy; even though brown rice is nutritionally superior to white rice as our data shows, it contains more arsenic than white rice. With our new method we are able to significantly reduce the arsenic exposure while reducing the loss of key nutrients.
"We highly recommend this method while preparing rice for infants and children as they are highly vulnerable to arsenic exposure risks."
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