Alert! The Rice You're Eating Might Be Toxic!

Good thing there's a way to remove the carcinogen.
by Stephanie Shi
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Rice has high levels (1o times more than most food products) of the potentially toxic element arsenic, which can cause bladder and lung cancer and damage your nervous system. According to Andy Meharg, a professor of plant and soil sciences at Queen's University Belfast, "Rice is by far our dominant source of inorganic arsenic."

How did rice come to contain arsenic? Rice is grown in flood plains or paddies, so the arsenic from the soil (originally from industrial contaminants or pesticides used) is absorbed into the crop.

Luckily researchers at Queen's University Belfast found a way to cook rice that will reduce the arsenic levels by 85 percent: Prepare it in the filter section of a percolator, a machine for making filter coffee. Why? Your rice cooker or pan needs water to cook the rice, and the arsenic that's initially washed away will be absorbed again, since you don't change the water. But the percolator lets the water keep passing through the rice, flushing out the arsenic.

Whether or not you'll start cooking your rice in a percolator, you might want to begin watching how much rice you eat. Andy says "If you are eating rice two or three times a week, it's fine. If you are eating rice two or three times a day you should be worried."

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