Rice & Arsenic-Should You Be Concerned? & Fail-proof Rice in the Instant Pot How-to

Have you heard that there are traces of arsenic in the rice we buy and consume? What is the truth? I have researched past the opinionated extremes on both sides and looked for reliable facts & brought it to you so you can be informed yet include rice in your family’s diet. Sound like a good plan? Well let’s go!

First let’s talk about what arsenic is:

  • Arsenic has two chemical forms: inorganic and organic (Note: Organic is a chemistry term and should not be confused with food raised & sold as “organic.”) Hey, we remember our high school chemistry class and the periodic table right?
  • Arsenic combined with carbon is organic and mainly found in plant and animal tissues. On the other hand, arsenic with no carbon (and combined with other elements) is inorganic and mainly found in rocks, soil, or water.
  • Arsenic also has been released into the environment through the use of pesticides and poultry fertilizer. Chickens are fed arsenic in their feed to help them grow faster. Therefore, it’s in soil and water. Rice tends to absorb arsenic more readily than many other plants. Consumer Reports

Now, let’s look at how inorganic arsenic in the soil & water is affecting rice in the United States today.

  • In 2016, the FDA proposed a recommendation of no more than 100 parts per billion of arsenic in infant cereal. That recommendation isn’t a requirement. (To put that in perspective, the EPA limits arsenic in water to 10 ppb.)
  • This past December, a pediatric health group tested 105 infant cereals nationwide for arsenic contamination. The group found arsenic levels in infant rice cereal averaged six times higher than in oatmeal, multi-grain, quinoa and other non-rice infant cereals. USA Today
  • In samples collected by the FDA last summer, it reported most of the products it tested fell below 100 parts per billion. The pediatric health study mentioned above found 85 ppb of arsenic, on average, in the rice cereals tested. One product tested registered at 235 ppb. (USA Today)
  • Most of the organic and inorganic arsenic you ingest will leave your body in a few days, but some of the inorganic arsenic — the kind of more concern — will remain in your body for months or even longer.
  • And frequent exposure to inorganic arsenic, even in low doses, can cause health concerns such as headaches, stomach aches.
  • Long-term exposure to arsenic has been linked to numerous health issues such as Type 2 Diabetes, HPB,  heart disease, dementia & other neurological problems.
  • History Fact: In ancient Greece, arsenic was often used as a poison for criminals. A dose the size of a pea was found to be fatal.
  • History Fact: Arsenic was used in Texas & Louisiana & the South to kill the boll weevil which would devastate the cotton crops. Used so many years ago it is still found in my beloved Texas’ soil.

Are you feeling like a rice smarty pants now?

You are officially educated on arsenic, but what do you do? What do you buy or not buy?

  • The AAP says parents can reduce baby/children’s exposure to arsenic by breastfeeding, reading formula labels, avoiding brown rice syrup in processed foods, avoid using rice milk as a dairy substitute, and offering a variety in their diet in general.
  • Organic rice will have fewer toxins overall. But it won’t likely have lower levels of arsenic unless the soil it grew in was never exposed to arsenic — not even 50 years ago.
  • In recent testing (Consumer Reports), all types of rice with a label indicating that it’s from Arkansas, Louisiana, or Texas or just “from the U.S”. had the highest levels of inorganic arsenic in our tests. For instance, white rices from California have 38 percent less inorganic arsenic than white rices from other parts of the country. Go California!
  • Inorganic arsenic content of rice varies greatly depending on the type of rice and where it was grown. White basmati rice from California, India, and Pakistan, on average has half of the inorganic-arsenic amount of most other types of rice.
  • Let’s talk Brown rice. It has 80 percent more inorganic arsenic on average than white rice of the same type. Why? Arsenic accumulates in the grain’s outer layers, which are removed to make white rice. Brown has more nutrients, though, so you shouldn’t switch entirely to white. Brown basmati from California, India, or Pakistan is the best choice; it has about a third less inorganic arsenic than other brown rices.

Overall, your best bet is to reduce your rice consumption to about 1-2 times per week, watch labels for rice (look at those gluten-free cereal labels too), rotate in other grains, and aim for a healthy, balanced diet to help your body defend itself from harm!

NOW… Let’s talk about how to cook your rice in the instant pot!

INSTANT POT WHITE BASMATI RICE

  • 1:1 rice to water ratio
  • 1T avocado oil
  • 3 minutes high pressure
  • Natural Pressure Release (11-18 minutes–play with this depending on your altitude to find the perfect time)

Press the saute button and allow to heat while you gather ingredients. Put in oil and rice. Saute for 30 seconds. Add water. Put on lid and set to sealing. Manual high pressure for 3min. And then natural release following the tips above. Enjoy!

INSTANT POT BASMATI LONG GRAIN BROWN RICE

NOTE: Long grain cooks faster than the short grain.

  • 1:1 rice to water ratio
  • 1T avocado oil
  • 22 minutes high pressure (add 2 min for short grain)
  • Natural Pressure Release (11-18 minutes–play with this depending on your altitude to find the perfect time)

Press the saute button and allow to heat while you gather ingredients. Put in oil and rice. Saute for 30 seconds. Add water. Put on lid and set to sealing. Manual high pressure for 22 min. And then natural release following the tips above. Enjoy!

BONUS TIP:
CLEAN UP IN A SNAP!!

Prevention is the key here! Oil in pan with rice first helps so much in this recipe, but that rice can still can stick sometimes. Use Scotch Brite Stainless Scrubbie on your IP insert and it comes right off. A back up trick is to add a little water to the insert and put back in the IP on saute for a few minutes, turn off, and then let cool a bit and the rice *cement*  will pretty much peel/scrape off easily.

I hope you learned a few things & feel confident in making the best rice choices for your family AND you are now equipped to make fail proof rice in the Instant Pot!

A PERSONAL INVITATION:

Join me and a few other women like yourself for my upcoming FREE 5-day healthy restart challenge. There will be lots of healthy steps and tips, easy recipes, encouragement, live Q&As, and giveaways. All designed to help you get back on track or stay on track to accomplish your health goals in simple steps. We all need simple right? Click the button below to get on the waitlist if that sounds like something you need. I would love to have you in our next challenge!

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