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Consumer Reports has released a report revealing concerning levels of Arsenic in a wide variety of rice products, including infant rice cereal, and organic rice [1].  While Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, it is also a known carcinogen and neurotoxin [1,2].  This report is especially concerning because arsenic was found in virtually every product tested.   Brown rice products were found to have higher arsenic levels that white rice products.

“Despite our taking into account other common sources of arsenic, and no matter which way we sliced the data, we see a very strong association between rice consumption and arsenic exposure,” says Richard Stahlhut, M.D., M.P.H

Based on this research the report contains the following recommendations:

  • Infants should not consume more that 1 serving of rice cereal a day.
  • Children and pregnant woman should limit their consumption of rice cereal.
  • Children under 5 should not consume rice drinks.

Rice is a good source of nutrition, and we often recommend brown rice as part of a whole foods diet.  This new report confirms how important it is to eat a variety of foods to limit repeat exposure to toxins and allergens.  It is impossible in the modern world to avoid toxic exposure. Instead we must balance our exposure with healthy habits that support our detoxification systems.  If you are a frequent consumer of rice and rice products increase the amount of garlic in your diet.  Garlic has been shown to reduce the damage caused by arsenic exposure and help remove arsenic from the body [3].

1: “Arsenic In Your Food; our findings show a real need for federal standards for this toxin.” Consumer Reports Magazine November 2012. Web. 25 September. 2012.

2: Martinez EJ, Kolb BL, Bell A, Savage DD, Allan AM. Moderate perinatal arsenic exposure alters neuroendocrine markers associated with depression and increases depressive-like behaviors in adult mouse offspring. Neurotoxicology. 2008 Jul;29(4):647-55. Epub 2008 May 21. PubMed PMID: 18573533; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2585488

3: Chowdhury R, Dutta A, Chaudhuri SR, Sharma N, Giri AK, Chaudhuri K. In vitro and in vivo reduction of sodium arsenite induced toxicity by aqueous garlic extract. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Feb;46(2):740-51. Epub 2007 Oct 1. PubMed PMID: 17983699.

Brenna Murphy, ND



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