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Cooking rice the wrong way could be endangering your health

15/02/2017

Cooking rice the wrong way could be endangering your healthBy simply cooking rice the wrong way, millions of people worldwide could be endangering their lives, scientists believe.

That's because rice contains traces of the poison arsenic, which stems from industrial toxins and pesticides that can remain in the soil it grows in for decades. In fact, rice contains about 10-20 times more arsenic than other cereal crops because of the way it is grown in flooded paddies.

Fortunately, the way people cook rice can have a dramatic effect on the amount of arsenic that finds its way into their bodies.

Chronic arsenic exposure has been linked with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and developmental problems, which is why the new research is so alarming.

For the BBC TV programme “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor,” Prof Andy Meharg, from Queens University Belfast, tested how three different ways of cooking rice affected the levels of arsenic in it afterwards.

In the first method, he used a ratio of two parts water to one part rice. This is the method many people use and sees the water “steamed out” during cooking. It's also the method that resulted in the most arsenic remaining in the rice.

In the second method, he used five parts water to one part rice and washed off the excess water. The levels of arsenic almost halved with this method.

In the third and final method, he soaked the rice overnight before cooking it. This resulted in the levels of arsenic being reduced by a whopping 80%.

"The only thing I can really equate it to is smoking," said Professor Meharg. "If you take one or two cigarettes per day, your risks are going to be a lot less than if you're smoking 30 or 40 cigarettes a day. It's dose-dependent - the more you eat, the higher your risk is."
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