So I have reached out to experts in the nutrition and health field, from doctors, fitness coaches, and best selling authors to ask them if it’s best to stay away from brown rice due to the arsenic levels and if we could actually eat white rice on a daily basis if leading healthy lifestyles. I have received some great answers from them and included them all in one round up post. Some experts did not have time to respond personally but allowed me to quote them from their existing articles on this topic. You’ll learn some interesting things about rice in this post so let’s start with Dr. Lisa Young below:
“Are the arsenic levels in brown rice a good enough reason to stay away from it?”
Brown rice is higher in fiber and nutrients than white rice so there’s no reason to stay away. Due to arsenic in brown rice, I suggest that you include this whole grain several times a week as opposed to daily.
and “If you lead an active lifestyle, is it okay to eat white rice on a daily basis?”
While white rice is not poison, there are much better whole grain options available if you lead an active lifestyle. I suggest quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and millet for example.
LISA R. YOUNG, PhD, RDN is the author of Finally Full, Finally Slim: 30 Days to Permanent Weight Loss One Portion at Time and an internationally recognized nutritionist and portion size expert. www.drlisayoung.com
Rice has higher levels of inorganic arsenic than other foods, in part because as rice plants grow, the plant tends to absorb arsenic from the soil more than other crops. The levels in rice are too low to cause any hazard to human health. The health benefits of whole grains are established and brown rice contains many essential vitamins and minerals in addition to dietary fiber. Consumers do not need to avoid brown rice because of the arsenic content, unless otherwise advised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Refined grains, including white rice should be limited in my opinion. White rice has been stripped of its germ and bran… most of the nutrients and fiber are contained within these components of the grain. The starchy endosperm is left and rapidly converted to sugar by the body. While okay in moderation, white rice should be consumed in sparingly and not daily, especially in those who are diabetic.
Both brown and white rice have high arsenic levels so it’s best to avoid them and eat them only once in a while. There are many other whole grains and starches to choose from such as oats, potatoes, couscous, etc. Whether you live an active lifestyle or sedentary lifestyle, it’s always best to choose foods with the highest amount of nutrients to nourish your body and brain, so eating white rice is a waste of calories just like any junk food with no nutrients. When you eat foods with no nutrients, the body is left craving the nutrients it needs, which can lead to overreating and gaining weight. The foods with the highest levels of arsenic to avoid are seafood, poultry, rice and other rice products, and mushrooms. In fact, the arsenic in rice and mushrooms comes from farmers using poultry litter as soil fertilizer.
Christine Gray, Editor-in-Chief
Ultimately, the question of whether any food is “healthy” or “unhealthy” depends on the amount being eaten and the context in which it’s being consumed.
To answer your questions:
- It can be although this depends on an individual’s overall caloric intake and expenditure, tolerance and goals.
P.S. You might find this link useful: http://superfitdads.com/is-white-rice-bad-for-you/
Are the arsenic levels in brown rice a good enough reason to stay away
As always it’s a good idea to ask your doctor about any health concerns
you have. As for my personal opinion, and keep in mind I’m not a doctor,
I think that the arsenic levels in brown rice are not high enough to
warrant completely avoiding brown rice. If you are eating brown rice for
every meal it’s of course more of a concern, but if you are only eating
it occasionally I would say it shouldn’t be much of a problem. I
personally eat brown rice every couple of days. If you are concerned
about the arsenic levels in brown rice, washing it thoroughly and
cooking it with a good amount of extra water and then draining the rice
can help cut down on the amount of arsenic in brown rice.
If you lead an active lifestyle, is it okay to eat white rice on a daily
Once again, it’s always a good idea to follow your doctor’s advice
concerning your diet. Especially if you have health concerns such as
diabetes. But if you are a healthy individual, living an active
lifestyle, and eating a healthy well balanced diet; I would say it’s
fine to eat white rice on a daily basis. There are literally billions of
people eating white rice on a daily basis. And places like Japan where
they eat a lot of white rice, have high rates of life expectancy. Of
course those people living long lives are also eating a healthy diet
that includes lots of vegetables with that white rice. Moderation is one
of the keys of a healthy diet, and I would recommend eating a variety of
healthy foods and avoid leaning heavily on one type of food too much.
But one serving of white rice daily is probably fine as long as the rest
of your diet is healthy and you lead an active lifestyle.
C.B. Daniels, https://thisonevsthatone.com/brown-rice-vs-white-rice/)
Happy to answer.
Arsenic levels in brown rice are definitely higher than those in white rice, but that’s not the only reason to avoid it. The other major issue with brown rice is the fact that it is loaded with anti-nutrients, like phytates and lectins. These bind to vitamins and minerals and prevent them from being absorbed into the body. Some of them also interfere with proper digestion.
Simon from PlantProof.Com has a method for reducing exposure to arsenic in rice that involves:
Reducing 80% of arsenic by soaking the rice overnight and rinsing it the next day before cooking. Simon also mentions that the level of arsenic is very similar in both but prefers to use unrefined whole form rice such as brown or wild rice. His article also recommends to limit rice to 4-5 x a week instead of every night and eat other unrefined grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, oats, etc.
Simon also recommends to consume 500mg of Curcumin to reduce the effect of arsenic exposure and even reverse damage and eating plenty of antioxidant rich foods. These foods include carrots, oranges, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, goji berries, grapes, beetroots, and kale, which all protect your body from arsenic.
Lindsay from FoodRevolution.Org suggests to choose organic basmati rice from California, India, or Pakistan if possible.
When cooking , rinse the rice thoroughly or soak for 48 hours before cooking it, dumping the water and rinsing every 8 to 12 hours. Lindsay also recommends to use filtered water.
When it comes to eating rice everyday, in Lindsay’s article, she writes that the FDA is discouraging parents to not consume rice on a regular basis due to arsenic, and rice cakes actually give almost a weekly limit in only one serving.
This was quoted from Lindsay’s article, “In fact, according to a 2017 study published in the journal Epidemiology people who reported eating a gluten-free diet had, on average, almost two times the amount of arsenic in their bodies compared to people who weren’t gluten-free.”
Lindsay recommends to reduce rice consumption to about once per week, and rotate in other grains as well. But overall Lindsay states “Most likely, you don’t need to cut out rice completely in order to reduce your exposure significantly.”
“Are the arsenic levels in brown rice a good enough reason to stay away from it?” and “If you lead an active lifestyle, is it okay to eat white rice on a daily basis?”.
- Obviously Arsenic is not healthy. Brown rice can get contaminated due to polluted water and soil and hence one should ensure that safely grown Brown rice is available for consumption. In our earlier trials with brown rice grown in South India we tested for Arsenic in Brown Rice and found very low levels which were within the permissible national and international norms. Hence given the benefits of Brown Rice if available eating of Brown rice should be encouraged as it has more nutrients and a lower glycemic index than white rice.
- The majority of people in Asia and many other countries consume white rice on a daily basis. It is the quantity of the white rice consumed which is important. If one can cut down the quantity of white rice and add plenty of legumes, green leafy vegetables it would make the diet a more wholesome and healthier one. In addition, one should have enough physical activity so that one does not put on weight or reduce the weight if one is overweight. Given these caveat it is okay to eat white rice but the quantity is obviously very important.
Dr. V. Mohan www.drmohansdiabetes.com
Molly from CleanFoodDirtyGirl.com has a no nonsense approach when it comes to nutrition and takes arsenic in foods very seriously. She has some really good information on her site about why there is so much arsenic in most U.S. rice
Molly says that brown rice is indeed has its health benefits but there isn’t solid research that shows the benefits outweighing the arsenic that it’s contaminated with.
She says eating rice is up to you and there are plenty of alternative grains without arsenic.
Molly recommends to buy brown rice grown in California, India or Pakistan because they contain the least amount of arsenic.
She says to avoid all rice from the south, including Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri.
The article states that rice in the U.S. has an average double the amount of arsenic compared to the rest of the world.
Molly recommends to not eat more than ½ cup of rice three or four times a week if you really like eating rice.
Read the full article at https://cleanfooddirtygirl.com/arsenic-in-my-rice-say-what-plus-almond-taco-meat-recipe/
As the brown rice scare resurfaces again, I pulled up some research I have done that has stood the test of time:
As for white rice on a daily basis: while it’s filling, it’s pretty much empty calories that turn quickly to sugar in your system, leaving you hungry quickly with erratic blood sugar levels. In my view, white rice is not much better than any other simple carbohydrate. It lacks fiber and most of the other nutrients in brown rice. That said, it does have value. It’s a great way to get ‘sugar’ into your system quickly should you need it as an active athlete, making it a great pre-workout food. It’s also a great food to aid in digestion of a heavy protein or fatty meal. So it has value, but it can negatively affect our blood sugar levels
Christina Pirello, mfn
Emmy award winning host of Christina Cooks
Best Selling Author
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