Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)

Holistic Health

Soak rice well before cooking

- FW

Rice farmers generally grow rice in flooded paddies, which exposes it to more arsenic than other grain crops, as it is highly water-soluble.

The metal can be found in irrigation water and other water sources in low-lying areas.

While white rice is lower in mercury and arsenic than brown, it carries its own hidden danger: talc. White rice and polished rice may contain some residual talc as this is used during the polishing process. It is wise to rinse rice thoroughly before cooking, as talc may contain asbestos.

Studies show that soaking can remove up to 80% of the arsenic in heavily tainted rice. Soak rice overnight before cooking. After soaking, discard the liquid, rinse the rice thoroughly, and cook in fresh water.

It is important to remove the arsenic by rinsing, especially if you are cooking rice from the US, to prevent nutrients from leaching into the soaking and rinsing water.

These processes should not affect the taste of rice, which is still an excellent carbohydra­te food, especially in its unrefined form.

Mild arsenic poisoning is not a serious problem, but it’s a good idea to stop buying, eating or feeding your family rice-containing foods like Rice Krispies and rice cakes.

If you suffer from gluten intoleranc­e, rice makes a good alternativ­e. Oats, buckwheat, teff, amaranth, quinoa and millet can also be used.

• Johanita Louw, who farms vegetables with her husband, has had a lifelong interest in holistic nutrition. Email her at farmerswee­ Subject line: Holistic Health.

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