Rice as a Source of Arsenic Exposure

A study just published by a Dartmouth team of scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) advances our understanding of the sources of human exposure to arsenic and focuses attention on the potential for consuming harmful levels of arsenic via rice.

Arsenic occurs naturally in the environment and in elevated concentrations it can be harmful to human health. Common in groundwater, the World Health Organization set guideline limits for Arsenic levels in drinking water (currently 10 micrograms per liter). Concerns about arsenic exposure are now extending beyond water to rice, as underscored in the new PNAS publication. Rice is susceptible to arsenic contamination due to its ability to extract arsenic from the environment into the rice plant.

The study presented in the PNAS paper is based upon a sample of 229 pregnant New Hampshire women whose urine was tested for arsenic concentration. The women in the study were divided into two groups based on whether or not they had eaten rice in the two days before urine collection. The tap water in their homes also was tested for arsenic concentration.

Urinary arsenic concentrations for the 73 study subjects who ate rice showed a median of 5.27 micrograms per liter, while the median for the 156 non-rice eaters showed 3.38 micrograms per liter, a statistically significant difference between the two groups.

The authors conclude that their findings highlight the need to monitor arsenic in food, noting that China already has statutory limits on arsenic content in rice (0.15 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per kilogram of food) but the U.S. and the E.U. do not.


The following is the USA Rice Federation Statement on Arsenic in Rice

U.S.-grown rice is safe to eat.

Recent media stories based on prior studies looking at arsenic content in rice are once again unnecessarily increasing public concern. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continually monitors the U.S. food supply through their Total Diet Study including rice and rice products to assure food is safe. Current science points to rice as a healthy and nutritious food that contributes only a minor amount of arsenic to the human diet.

Arsenic is an element that is naturally present in the environment in soil water, air and food and humans have been exposed to trace levels of it in their foods for thousands of years. Assertions about high levels of arsenic in U.S. rice are not new, nor are they accurate.

There are no scientific studies that have linked U.S. rice consumption to adverse health effects, nor have arsenic-related health effects been reported among populations with high rice consumption, such as in Japan, where the average consumer eats five times the amount of rice that Americans consume annually.

The majority of the arsenic found in rice is the naturally occurring organic type, which is of less concern. A recent study claiming that pregnant women who ate one-half cup rice daily consumed arsenic at levels comparable to drinking four and a quarter cups of water a day (approximately 1 liter/day) containing arsenic at the maximum allowable level set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is misleading. The study does not detail that the arsenic found in water is 100 percent inorganic, which is harmful when ingested in large amounts, whereas the majority of the arsenic in rice is the organic type. Arsenic exposure from rice is considerably less than from drinking water at the federal standard of 10 parts per billion (ppb) based on 2 liters per day. Additionally, though the drinking water standard for arsenic has been lowered from 50 ppb to 10 ppb, this action was not based on evidence of ill health effects in U.S. populations consuming water with greater than 10 ppb arsenic. Moreover, unlike some other metals, arsenic at lower doses has not been associated with adverse effects to unborn children. Therefore, implications that arsenic exposures below the drinking water standard are a concern for unborn children are misleading and groundless.

Rice is a nutritious food that is fortified with folic acid, which has helped contribute to a reduction in some birth defects in infants. It is a basic staple in the diet around the world and for many American consumers. In addition, U.S. rice has been produced and consumed in the United States for more than 300 years and has never been linked to adverse health effects. The safety of U.S.-grown rice remains a top priority for the U.S. rice industry. USA Rice Federation supports FDA efforts to provide clarity to this situation.

Young Women May Reduce Heart Disease Risk Eating Fish with Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Young women may reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease simply by eating more fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, researchers reported in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In the first population-based study in women of childbearing age, those who rarely or never ate fish had 50 percent more cardiovascular problems over eight years than those who ate fish regularly. Compared to women who ate fish high in omega-3 weekly, the risk was 90 percent higher for those who rarely or never ate fish.

The most common fish consumed by women in the study were cod, salmon, herring, and mackerel.


What’s for lunch?

Pork Cutlet and Cold Noodle Set Lunch

  • Pork Cutlet
  • Cold Soba with Shredded Fried Egg and Cucumber
  • Nori (for wrapping of soba)
  • Sesame Dipping Sauce (for nori-wrapped soba)

Fish Boosts Brain Health

Eating baked or broiled fish as little as once a week may boost brain health and lower the risk for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, new brain scan research suggests.

The study authors found that eating baked and broiled fish — but not fried — helps to preserve gray matter neurons, strengthening them in areas of the brain deemed critical to memory and cognition.

“Those who eat baked or broiled fish had larger brains,” noted study author Dr. Cyrus Raji at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “They had larger brain cells in areas of the brain responsible for memory and learning. And the reason that’s important is that these brain areas are at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease.”

In those people with larger brain volume, “the risk for Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment went down by fivefold within five years following the brain scans we conducted,” he said.

Raji said he was “amazed” that this effect was seen with eating fish as little as one to four times a week. “We’re talking about just a half serving a day,” he said. “And that would be a very small lifestyle change that can affect disease risk a long time down the line.”

Raji and his colleagues presented their findings at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.


A Chinese Shanghai-style Shrimp Appetizer


400 g head-on shrimp
3 cups oil
1 piece ginger (about 30 g)
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp sesame oil
4 stalks green onion


2 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar


  1. Trim sharp edges of heads and legs of shrimp. Devein and clean.
  2. Add shrimp to a wok of boiling water. Remove shrimp when the water reboils again. Drain and dry with paper towel.
  3. Grate ginger and chop green onion.
  4. Mix seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.
  5. Heat 3 cups oil in a wok to smoking hot. Blanch shrimp in oil until colour turns red. Remove and drain.
  6. Pour off oil and with 1 tbsp oil remaining in wok. Sauté ginger until fragrant. Add seasoning. Return shrimp to wok. Sprinkle wine and add green onion. Toss to combine. Add sesame oil before remove to serving plate. Serve either hot or cold.

Source: Hong Kong magazine

“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”