Nutrition for Women

Ask the Nutritionist: Should I Be Concerned About Arsenic in Rice?

Arsenic is in nearly everything you eat and drink — not just rice. Should you be concerned?

Question: Should I be concerned about arsenic in rice?

Maybe. Arsenic is a toxic element that can lead to cancer and cardiovascular disease with long-term exposure, and full transparency: It is in nearly everything you eat and drink in tiny amounts. Inorganic arsenic, found in rocks, earth and water, is the most toxic form, but pollution adds to those totals, especially when it comes to soil. Arsenic can leach into and contaminate drinking water, which then can lead to the contamination of seafood and produce in a domino effect. And since paddy rice is grown in flooded fields, that type is particularly susceptible to high levels of arsenic.

Reduce your exposure by varying your diet, washing your rice with clean water before cooking, and buying low-arsenic varieties such as basmati and jasmine. Limit your consumption to three ½-cup servings per week at most, and buy rice grown in California and the Himalayan regions (where there is less arsenic in the soil) such as Lundberg Family Farms and Lotus Foods.