New way of cooking rice removes arsenic and retains mineral nutrients, study shows

According to new study, cooking rice in a certain method eliminates 74% of the naturally occurring arsenic in white rice and more than 50% of it in brown rice.

A recent study published in Science of the Total Environment demonstrates that a certain method of cooking rice eliminates more than 50% of the naturally occurring arsenic in brown rice and 74% of it in white rice. Crucially, the rice's nutritional content is unaffected by this new technique.

In response to earlier study from the University of Sheffield that revealed half of the rice consumed in the UK had levels of arsenic in it that were higher than those recommended by the European Commission for rice intended for ingestion by newborns or young children.

In an attempt to lower the amount of arsenic in rice, a recent study by the Institute for Sustainable Food tested various cooking methods. They discovered that the "parboiling with absorption method" (PBA), a convenient and at-home method, eliminated the majority of arsenic while retaining most of the nutrients in the cooked rice.

Using the PBA technique, the rice is first parboiled in water that has already been boiled for five minutes. It is then drained and refilled, then cooked at a lower temperature to absorb all of the water.

Due to its water solubility, arsenic—which the International Agency for Research on Cancer has categorized as a Group 1 carcinogen—accumulates in rice, which is cultivated more frequently in flooded areas than other cereals. Exposure to arsenic can result in skin lesions, cancer, diabetes, and lung disorders, affecting nearly every organ in the body.

Approximately 10 times as much arsenic is known to accumulate in rice as in other grains. Arsenic is mostly found in the outer bran layer of rice grains, which encircles the endosperm. Accordingly, brown rice—that is, unpolished, unmilled rice that still has its bran—contains a higher arsenic content than white rice. While white rice loses 75–90% of its nutrients during the milling process, arsenic is eliminated.

"This is great news for consumers of rice," says Dr. Manoj Menon. Due to arsenic, there are legitimate worries among the populace regarding rice consumption. Prior research has demonstrated that boiling rice in too much water can eliminate arsenic, but it also eliminates nutrients. Our goal was to eliminate arsenic from rice as much as possible while retaining as much of its nutrients. Everyone may utilize our recently created approach, PBA, because it is simple and straightforward to apply at home. Although our research indicates that brown rice is more arsenic-containing than white rice, we are unsure of the exact quantity of arsenic in each package of rice we purchase. By using our novel approach, we can minimize the loss of essential nutrients and drastically lower the exposure to arsenic. Since babies and young children are particularly susceptible to the hazards of arsenic poisoning, we strongly advise using this approach when making rice for them."