Is black rice even better than brown rice?
Black rice is also known as forbidden or purple rice and it originates from Asia. It offers the same benefits that brown rice those, but with brown rice, you also get a variety of powerful antioxidants. Black rice has the same thick outer shell as brown rice does, which would take you a bit more time to cook than white rice, but you can try soaking it for an hour which would speed up the cooking.
Research has shown that there is a correlation between the color of the rice and its nutrient content. The darker it is, the more nutrient-rich it is. Black rice has been proven to have anthocyanins which have similar nutritional effects to those found in blackberries and blueberries.
Numerous studies have shown that anthocyanins can help you fight some serious health issues like heart disease and cancer. Studies, where black rice bran was tested, found that black rice has proven itself to be a powerful therapeutic food that could prevent and treat diseases that are connected to chronic inflammation. Studies have found that black rice can decrease dermatitis symptoms, while brown rice couldn’t.
A worrying discovery of arsenic in today’s rice
A report has been released in 2012 where the main discussion was the discovery of arsenic in grape and apple juice. Consumer Reports made numerous test on rice afterward concluding that they found significant amounts of arsenic in two of its forms in almost every product they tested. They found both inorganic arsenic, which is very carcinogenic, as well as organic arsenic, which even though is not so toxic it still poses a problem. What’s more worrying is that the foods tested are staples in the majority of people’s diets, consumed by both children and adults.
Rice Krispies cereal was one of the products tested and it proved to have relatively low levels at 2.2 to 2.7 micrograms per one serving, and Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Pasta Fusilli was shown to have a bit higher levels of 6.0 to 7.0 micrograms per serving. The most disturbing find was that significant levels of arsenic were also discovered in infant cereals meant for 4-12 month-year-old babies. EPA studies from 2009 and 2010 put rice behind fruits and fruit juices in regards to levels of inorganic arsenic, 17 percent and 18 percent respectively and the top place taken by vegetables that had 24 percent.
Even thought the USA Rice Federation doesn’t agree with these concerns since according to them inorganic arsenic is considered a natural compounds, the Consumer Reports study disagrees, saying that inorganic arsenic as the form in which arsenic is found in the majority of products they analyzed is ranked by IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) among the top 100 Group 1 carcinogen substances. It has been proven to be the cause of lung, skin and bladder cancer, and current studies are on the way to prove that it can create cancers in the kidney, liver, and prostate too.
How did it get there?
Traces of arsenic have been found in rice because the rice is being grown in soils that have been contaminated. How it got there in the first place should be studied by historians. Every so often, farming processes included adding harmful toxins in herbicides and pesticides, not mentioning the feeding of animals in confined conditions which has drastically changed food production from the small local and sustainable farm model that the informed general population would want.
The rice is unique in that it absorbs the arsenic from the soil or from the water a lot more efficiently than most of the plants do. That is partially due to rice being one of the major crops that is grown in conditions flooded with water, which enables it to more easily absorb the arsenic through its roots and store it inside. Another plant that has similar properties in regards to arsenic is cotton, a crop once heavily sprayed with pesticides containing arsenic in order to kill off the boll weevil beetle.
All types of rice provide unique benefits to your health, so it wouldn’t be advisable to eliminate certain types altogether from your diet. One general guideline everyone should follow is to prioritize the organic types as much as possible, regardless of whether it’s brown, white or wild rice, and if you’re not exactly sure of where it came from, you should limit your intake to two servings weekly so that decrease the risk of exposure to arsenic. Additionally, make sure that your carb sources are unprocessed as possible, free of pesticides and other chemical additives and that they have not been genetically modified.