Rice, be it whole grain, brown or white, organic or conventionally grown, ground to flour and baked in gluten-free breads, cookies, brownies and cakes or puffed into cereal and rice cakes or shaped into pasta, crackers and chips - rice is arguably the mainstay of the typical gluten-free diet.
Like most people I have always thought of rice as an easily digestible carbohydrate. It is often the first solid food a baby eats and is prescribed in the diets of hypoallergenic people and animals. Rice is consumed by millions of people worldwide.
But recent research has discovered some disturbing facts about rice. We're learning that arsenic, an element (mineral) which resides in soil, water, the air we breath and in food, has an affinity for rice. In its' inorganic form arsenic is a known carcinogen and rice, especially brown rice and especially rice grown in several mid-southern states contains more arsenic than rice grown in California. Why is that?
Consumer Reports magazine, the publication of Consumer Reports Organization, a non-profit consumer safety group founded in 1936 recently published an in-depth look into their own analysis of over 200 brand name rice products found at grocery stores nationwide. According to Consumer Reports, virtually every sample tested contained arsenic, some at low levels and others at alarmingly high levels.
Think about your gluten-free diet. Or the average daily diet of your gluten-free child. If you eat brown rice cereal for breakfast, have a rice energy bar mid-morning, eat a sandwich made with gluten-free rice bread for lunch, have a few gluten-free cookies made with rice flour for an afternoon snack and eat gluten-free spaghetti made with rice pasta for dinner and maybe add a gluten-free brownie or a couple more cookies as a mid-evening snack, you are eating quite a bit of rice.
It's extremely important for people on gluten-free diets and people that eat rice (in all its forms) on a regular basis to understand the potential risks of dietary exposure to excessive levels of arsenic, how arsenic can affect your health and the long-term health of your children. Learn what you can do to make important decisions about your diet and your health.
Read my comprehensive article on this important issue at Arsenic in Rice and Gluten-Free Diets.
Photo © 2012 Teri Lee Gruss