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Expert reveals the safest way to cook rice

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A leading rice contamination expert tested 3 popular methods of cooking rice

Arsenic manages to get into rice as a result of toxins that were used in the past 

But an experiment found boiling it in excess water helps flush out the chemical

Soaking rice in water overnight slashes levels of arsenic by 80%, the study found

You may not think there's anything wrong with how you cook rice - but there probably is.

If you're not using enough water then you're at risk of heart disease and cancer, a scientist has warned.

Cooking the grains in excess water helps to flush out arsenic, preventing any possible chemical poisoning.

While soaking rice overnight slashes levels of the industrial toxin by around 80 per cent, a contamination expert claims.

Arsenic gets into the rice as a result of industrial contaminants and pesticides that were used in the past.

It can remain in the flooded paddy fields where the rice is grown for decades, research has suggested.

Professor Andy Meharg, a leading expert on rice contamination from Queens University Belfast, tested chemical levels after cooking rice three different ways.

He first used a ratio of two parts water to one part rice, whereby the water was absorbed or evaporated during cooking.

Increasing the ratio to five parts water halved arsenic levels and soaking it overnight cut the toxin levels the most.

It comes after the Food Standards Agency warned against overcooking potatoes and toast because of increased levels of the cancer-causing chemical acrylamide.

Acrylamide, which is also found in tobacco smoke, has been shown to cause cancer in animal tests.

The evidence suggests that all age groups, but particularly children, are consuming more acrylamide than they should.


Eating brown rice could prevent an early death, research suggested last year.

Experts at Harvard University found just one 16g serving per day of whole grain cuts the risk of dying from any cause, heart disease or cancer. 

And, they argued, the more whole grains people eat, the bigger the benefits.

Their analysis of studies showed that for every single serving (16g) of whole grains, there was a 7 per cent drop in risk of death from any cause.

Typically, rice has ten times more inorganic arsenic than other foods and the European Food Standards Authority has reported that people who eat a lot are exposed to worrying concentrations.

Chronic exposure can cause a range of health problems including developmental problems, heart disease, diabetes and nervous system damage. 

However, most worrying are lung and bladder cancers.

Professor Meharg has previously suggested that cooking rice in a coffee perculator would stop any arsenic from binding to the rice.

By allowing steaming hot water to drip through the rice, contaminants will be washed away.

In previous experiments, there was a 57 per cent reduction in arsenic with a ratio of 12 parts of water to one of rice and in some cases as much as 85 per cent.

The latest investigation will be shown on tonight’s episode of the BBC’s Trust Me, I’m a Doctor.



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