There has been a lot of coverage lately on the levels of arsenic that have been found in rice. Rice is a staple of a plant-based lifestyle, so it's natural to wonder where the arsenic is coming from and if rice should be avoided. There have been many attempts to explain the source of the arsenic and the explanation I've heard most often is that it is found naturally in the soil. Well, Michael Greger, MD and Neal Barnard, MD provide quite a different insight.
The rice found to be the most contaminated originated in states with the highest poultry production. Why does this matter? Arsenic is routinely fed to chickens in the United States in order to kill their intestinal parasites, to increase their growth rates, and to turn their flesh pink, a color which is preferred by consumers. Chicken feather meal and chicken manure are fed to farmed animals including fish and are used as fertilizer.
So what can you do? Dr. Barnard recommends buying imported or organic rice, rinsing it well before cooking, and then cooking it with extra amounts of water that can be drained off at the end of the cooking process. This will dramatically decrease your exposure to any arsenic in the rice. In addition, we have yet another reason to avoid eating chicken.
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