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Common Method of Cooking Rice Could Leave Traces of Arsenic

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According to scientists, the common method of cooking rice could leave traces of arsenic- a toxin linked to a range of health problems.

According to recent experiments by scientists, the common method of cooking rice- by boiling it in water and steaming it out- could leave the rice with traces of arsenic- a toxin that has been linked to a range of health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, as well as developmental problems.

The Study

It was previously believed that the arsenic traces in rice are usually expelled when the rice is cooked. However, it has recently been found that this only happens when the rice is soaked overnight.

On the BBC Program “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor”, Andy Meharg, professor of biological sciences at Queen University Belfast, tested three methods of cooking rice, and then measured the levels of arsenic in the cooked rice.

In the first method, Meharg used the most commonly used method- putting two parts water to one part rice, boiling it and steaming it out. This was found to have left the most arsenic in the rice.

In the second method, Meharg put five parts water to one part rice and washed the excess water off.

This almost halved the amount of arsenic left in the rice. In the third method, Meharg soaked the rice overnight, washed it and rinsed it until the water is clear.

Then, he boiled it in a sauce pat at a five parts water and one part rice. This reduced the toxin level by 80 percent.

Arsenic in Rice

According to research from Channel 4’s Dispatches and the Institute for Global Food Security, high levels of arsenic are found in around 58 percent of rice-based food products in the UK.