Staple Food Shown To Cause Cancer
Over half the world’s population depends on this popular food. And it’s one of the most commonly-eaten foods in America. Chances are you eat it regularly. And recent evidence shows that it is linked to cancer risk.
In today’s article I’m going to tell you about the dangers of this food. I’m also going to tell you how to eat it safely.
Once A Healthy Food, Modern Pollutants Devastate Rice
Rice is one of the most popular grains in the world. It has been cultivated for ten thousand years in Asia. And it is a staple for billions of people.
Up until recently, rice was very healthy. But something changed.
Several decades ago researchers began to detect higher levels of arsenic in rice. Arsenic is a highly toxic element. It is naturally-occurring, but normally the levels in food are quite low.
What caused the change? Investigations have shown that industrial pollution is the main cause.
Rice requires a lot of water to grow. If the water is good quality, the rice concentrates the nutrients from the water. But unfortunately, if the water is contaminated, the rice also concentrates the pollutants.
Researchers have tracked the sources of the arsenic found in rice to factories, electrical power plants, and landfills, among other things. These sources cut corners and dispose of wastewater within fully removing contaminants. As a result, the water makes its way into rice fields. There it is taken up by the rice. And eventually, it makes its way onto your plate.
The Dangers Of Arsenic
As I have said, arsenic is a natural element. It is also toxic. It naturally occurs in rock deposits where it is kept safe. But mining for raw materials also brings with it a lot of arsenic. When those materials are processed, arsenic makes its way into the water.
Some types of plants and animals are able to consume arsenic and convert it into a less toxic form. That is called organic arsenic. The term organic is from chemistry, and it means that the element is bound with a protein. That makes it safer.
The most dangerous type of arsenic is elemental, inorganic arsenic. That is the type that is released into water from industry. And that is the type that is on the rise in rice supplies.
When humans consume sufficient inorganic arsenic, it causes harm. If large enough amounts are consumed in a short time, the result is acute toxicity. But small amounts consumed regularly may not produce immediate symptoms, yet the long term effects can be deadly.
Some of the results of arsenic toxicity include night blindness, heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes. And arsenic has been shown to dramatically increase the risk of developing cancer.
Avoiding Some Rice Products Is A Good Idea
Before you stop eating rice altogether, let me set some things straight. Rice can still be a good food. But you want to be smart about it. You don’t want to eat too much rice, and you don’t want to eat the types of rice that have the highest levels of arsenic. All foods have trace amounts of arsenic, and your body can handle those very small amounts. It’s just a problem when the levels are too high.
In recent years the gluten-free fad has been booming. As a result, many people are eating more rice than ever before. Add to that the fact that rice products are often used as substitutes for milk and sugar (two other avoidance fads), and many people may be eating more rice than they used to.
I have always encouraged you to eat real, traditional foods. If you’re not actually gluten intolerant, gluten foods are fine. And I have often promoted the health benefits of dairy, so hopefully you haven’t fallen prey to some of these fads.
But if you are gluten-free, dairy-free, or sugar-free, watch out for extra rice that might be creeping in. May gluten-free products are made with rice flour, for example. Dairy-free products are often made with rice “milk”. And in place of traditional sugars, many products use rice syrup. All of these foods increase the amount of rice you consume when you eat them. And some, particularly rice syrup, actually concentrate arsenic.
Choosing The Right Types of Rice Is Healthy
Research has shown that not all rice is equally contaminated. Rice from China may contain very high levels of arsenic for now, and show be avoided. So look at the label and find out where you rice is coming from.
The best types of rice from the best sources are basmati and jasmine rice from California, India, and Pakistan. These you can safely eat.
How To Prepare Rice Safely
The way in which you prepare rice can also have a huge impact when it comes to inorganic arsenic. Research shows that rinsing rice in clean water first can reduce the inorganic arsenic levels by more than half.
Rice can continue to be a healthy food. However, excessive consumption of rice or consumption of the wrong types of rice can lead to arsenic toxicity. To protect yourself, cut out rice-derived substitutes for other natural foods. And choose basmati or jasmine rice from California, India, or Pakistan. Then rinse the rice before cooking. Do these things, and you’ll be protecting your health.