How Do You Cook Your Rice?
Everyone has their own way.
23 July 2017
Most people have their own tried and tested method of cooking rice; my method for years has been to cook my rice in double the quantity of boiling water, covered and left alone to simmer on a low light until the water has completely been absorbed, leaving the rice soft, light and fluffy.
But I became aware of the need to reconsider this after watching a recent BBC programme, Trust Me, I’m A Doctor, which brought to my attention evidence that traces of arsenic in rice could potentially be harmful to the long term health of some people. This came as a surprise to me, so I decided to read up on it to find out more. Here’s a brief summary of my reading:
- Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance; organic arsenic, the less toxic type, is found in natural compounds in plant and animal tissues and in soil, and is normally not a concern in food, being found in very small quantities.
- Inorganic arsenic, however, is the more toxic form of arsenic, and is found in rocks and soils and dissolved in water.
- Pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers and other forms of human activity have led to pollution, increasing the levels of inorganic arsenic in polluted areas.
Arsenic and rice:
- There is evidence that rice tends to absorb much higher levels of arsenic than most cereal crops because it is grown in wet or flooded conditions, taking in arsenic through the water.
- Rice grown in polluted regions contains even higher levels of inorganic arsenic.
- There is concern that consuming high levels of inorganic arsenic in rice, particularly for babies and young children, can lead to long term health problems. Over time, it is suggested that cancer, heart disease and developmental problems can occur as a result.
- Groups of people who eat a diet based primarily on rice and rice based products are particularly at risk of developing health problems, particularly those living in areas with polluted water.
- Soak the rice overnight in plenty of clean water.
- Drain, then wash the rice well before cooking in lots of clean water; wash until the water runs clear.
- Cook the rice in five times the amount of clean water.
- Once cooked, drain off the cooking water.
- Rinse again in boiling water before serving.
So do we need to stop eating rice?
No, although, as with most foods, it is best to eat a varied diet that is not dominated by rice, if possible.
If you do eat rice in large quantities, white rice such as jasmine and basmati are often found to contain lower levels of arsenic.
Tests have shown that simply using a method of cooking rice that does not allow the water to be reabsorbed, as it was in my usual method, can dramatically reduce the arsenic levels in rice! Just follow these guidelines: