Revisiting Arsenic & Rice – Should Celiacs Be Concerned?
Should you be concerned about arsenic if you eat a gluten-free diet?
Yes. Like most people on a gluten-free diet, rice is likely in a lot of your meals, baked goods, and snacks. Rice takes up arsenic more easily and at higher levels than other plants, making it a source of arsenic for many people. If you follow a gluten-free diet your arsenic exposure from rice may be higher than those people who are not on a gluten-free diet.
- dartmouth.edu 1
What gluten-free foods have arsenic in them?
Rice is the main gluten-free food with arsenic in it. If you eat a gluten-free diet, you may eat a lot of rice or foods made with rice, such as:
- Cookies made with rice flour
- Crackers made with rice flour
- Rice-based pasta
- Rice cereal
- Rice cakes
- Rice-based baking mixes
- To avoid gluten and lower the amount of arsenic in your diet, eat other grains like millet, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, oats, flax and teff.
What Can You do?
- Eat less rice and rice-based foods
- Try new grains. Instead of eating rice in all of your meals, try other grains that have less arsenic in them i.e. quinoa, oats, corn, flax, amaranth, teff, millet, or buckwheat.
- Choose foods with less rice. When you buy packaged foods, be sure to check the ingredients label for the word “rice.” Eat less of this food or choose products that don’t have rice in them.
- Switch out your rice. Some types of rice have less arsenic than others. When you want to eat rice, choose:
- Quick-cooking rice
- Instant rice
- Sushi rice
- Basmati rice from India, Pakistan, or California
- Cook your rice like you cook pasta. Cooking your rice with extra water and then draining it off can get rid of half the arsenic.
- Read the recommendations on the Arsenic in Rice page to learn about other options to reduce your arsenic exposure through rice.
- Eat a varied diet to make sure you’re getting balanced nutrition.
- If you have a private well, test your water for arsenic!
- Review this site to better understand your total arsenic exposure.
- Look for the What You Can Do action steps to reduce your arsenic exposure.
- Get rid of half the arsenic: cook your rice like pasta – use six times for water than rice and then drain the water after cooking.
“We estimate that with the higher concentrations of inorganic arsenic in white and brown rice and rice-based ingredients, people who eat a lot of rice – such as in many gluten-free diets – have an increased risk of inorganic arsenic exposure. Studies haven’t yet confirmed this, and the amount of increased arsenic exposure is not known. However, people on a gluten-free diet who are concerned about arsenic exposure should eat a varied, nutritious diet and stay informed about arsenic in food.”
- Dr. Tracy Punshon, Dartmouth College
- 1 http://www.dartmouth.edu/~arsenicandyou/health/gluten-free.html?fbclid=IwAR1Yp8qvhAQnXEZCgSS2tjhkdrXM5AQdLp4eVh-N_-J15OzDNGsEIxvp0xQ