No one thinks about the chances of chemical poisoning while eating what are believed to be healthy foods or cooking them at home. Rice is one of the most widely consumed foods around the world and is the part of many people’s daily intake.
Eating rice in a moderate amount is not unhealthy and can be a source of many of the different dietary nutrients. In some countries, it is the staple food. In these states, no day is complete until rice is cooked and served at either dinner or lunch.
It works in a similar way as potatoes and bread work in European countries such as Germany which is said to have over two hundred varieties of bread alone with further types of each.
You might have cooked rice too in many different ways and had it with friends or family. Rice is also an essential part of many healthy snacks and cereals.
Some of the highest selling baby foods also contain rice so it is not really considered a source of poisoning or any harmful reactions.
However, the latest concern associated with cooking rice or feeding rice-based cereals and snacks to babies and children is that it can lead to arsenic poisoning. Yes, you read that right. Not many people would think about arsenic present in rice while eating.
Should you be worried about this?
According to the researchers today, arsenic present in rice should be one of your top worries about food and health especially if you feed your baby or child rice-based baby foods.
A report provided by the working group Healthy Babies Bright Futures in December of 2017 showed that the baby foods such as different snacks and cereals that contained rice had around six times higher amount of arsenic than others that are multi-grain or oats based.
Another discovery by researchers at Dartmouth College studied the levels of arsenic in the urine of babies and gave further evidence by concluding that the levels of inorganic arsenic in babies who were fed rice-based cereals was much higher than others which opted for grain-based cereals.
This can be a big issue given that more than eighty percent of the babies are given rice-based foods by their parents. If you are also one of those parents, you might want to consider switching to the safer grain-based cereals.
Arsenic poisoning can be harmful to a variety of levels for both adults and child. If babies have a high exposure to arsenic, it can result in numerous developmental problems that might not be treated later in life.
In addition, arsenic present in rice-based foods given to babies is not the only worrisome issue, rice plants are seen to absorb around ten times more arsenic than the grain crops. The crops may as well contain a big amount of arsenic.
What about the so-called arsenic in fish?
While talking about arsenic, you should know both types of it to avoid confusion. The arsenic present in fish and the arsenic which is now seen to be present in high amounts in rice crops and rice-based foods are not similar.
The first type of arsenic is that organic arsenic. It only shows the presence of a carbon atom in the arsenic bond. Organic arsenic is commonly present in foods such as crustaceans and fish.
The other type of arsenic is the inorganic arsenic which is prevalent in nature. This form of arsenic does not have a carbon atom in its bond and is much more harmful and toxic to humans than organic arsenic but is unfortunately in more foods.
Inorganic arsenic or toxic arsenic is found not only in rice and foods prepared with rice but many other foods or even drinks like apple juice.
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The Food and Drug Administration has not taken that much action on the issue even if low-level arsenic poison is relatively common. In 2016, the FDA forwarded a limit on the levels of arsenic in baby foods since almost 80% of the babies are given rice and rice foods.
So, what can you do?
It is still recommended that you protect yourself and your family, specifically your baby from the dangers of arsenic poisoning. Studies on arsenic poisoning have shown its dangerous effects on the health.
Acute arsenic poisoning can lead to health conditions such as coma, red blood cell destruction, convulsions and even death.
On the other hand, a lower level of exposure or chronic exposure to inorganic arsenic has been linked to diabetes, skin lesions, cardiovascular diseases, some forms of cancer, and neurotoxicity. In babies, it can even cause permanent damage which cannot be reversed.
You can decrease the chances of arsenic poisoning by cutting it out from your diet. This does not mean that you leave rice completely. According to researchers, if you cook your rice in a lot of water, it can reduce the arsenic levels up to 40%.
Secondly, a study showed that cooking rice in a coffee pot significantly reduced the level of inorganic arsenic in them. Do not follow the directions and instructions given on the packet of the rice.
Another thing you can do is slowly replace rice in your diet with quinoa or buckwheat, both of which are a good source of many nutrients such as protein and low in inorganic arsenic levels. There are many recipes you can find online and try.