How to Cook Rice to Reduce Arsenic

By Sally Cameron on January 24, 2021

Basics and how-to, Gluten-Free, Healing Histamine, Living Well, Side Dishes, the daniel plan, Vegan

If you knew there was arsenic in your food would you feed it to your family? Probably not because arsenic is a toxic heavy metal. If there was an easy way to reduce arsenic levels would you do it? I think so. It’s what I’ve done for years and thought I would share with you. Here’s how to cook rice to reduce arsenic.

brown rice in white bowl |

There’s Arsenic in My Rice?

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in soil and water. While it’s natural it’s not safe. In fact arsenic is a notorious toxin. While rice grows in water flooded paddy’s, it absorbs arsenic from the ground and water. Different kinds of rice and areas of the world produce rice with varying levels of arsenic. While arsenic is in the earth’s crust, banned farming practices and industrial usage are more to blame for the contamination.

Because arsenic is a confirmed carcinogen it’s best to reduce exposure whenever possible. It’s not just in rice but in rice products and other foods. If you want to read more check out the links at the end of this post. So how do you cook rice to reduce arsenic levels? It’s really very simple.

pouring rice into pot |

How to Cook Rice to Reduce Arsenic

While many people forgo eating rice for a low-carb or grain-free diet, rice is one of the world’s most widely consumed grains. With high arsenic levels and rice consumption what it is, this is a world-wide concern. Because I’ve had heavy metals toxicity with unsafe levels of mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic, my concern climbed when I read reports about high arsenic in rice. I didn’t want to give up rice, so I started cooking rice like pasta.

Cooking rice like pasta reduces arsenic as it releases into the cooking water and drains off after cooking because it water soluble. If you cook rice the traditional way with approximately a 2:1 ratio of water to rice the arsenic stays in the rice. Try cooking rice like pasta to reduce arsenic. It’s actually easier because there is no measuring and the rice comes out perfectly.

To rinse or not to rinse? It’s a good idea to rinse your rice well in cool water before cooking. If you buy from bulk bins rinsing removes possible dust, unwanted material, and some of the starch. Some articles mention soaking it over night, but I don’t. If you do soak it might reduce the amount of time you cook the rice. Test and see for yourself.

brown rice in in colander |

Bring a large pot (7-8 quarts) of water to a boil. Add a little salt and pour in a 1 pound bag of rice. Cook rice for the time recommended on the package and then drain off the water. Either eat rice then or spread the drained rice flat on a rimmed half sheet pan and cool, then portion and freeze (a great prep ahead step). I freeze it in 1 cup portions for two servings. I cook both brown and white rice this way (except when I make risotto).

prepped white rice in containers |

A Few Notes on Rice

Rice grown in the Southern USA reported higher arsenic levels, probably because many of the fields were once used to grow cotton with arsenic pesticide use. Rice grown in California has lower levels, so I always buy California grown rice. Lundberg Farms is my favorite. Rice grown in Thailand and India also had lower levels. Our favorite Lundberg variety is their organic sprouted short grain brown. Sprouted rice digests more easily offering more nutritional availability too.

Arsenic concentrates in the outer part of the grain called the bran. The bran is why brown rice is brown and more nutritious. The bran (fiber) and germ (nutrients) are polished off to produce white rice leaving nothing but the starchy endosperm. Without the bran and germ white rice has lower levels of arsenic. It cooks faster and is easier to digest than brown rice, but it also has a higher glycemic index and load.

If you love rice like we do, ever make risotto? Try this risotto Milanese. And here is the best rice to use.

Histamine Intolerance

If you suffer with histamine intolerance (HIT), rice is generally considered a safe food.

brown rice in white bowl |

How to Cook Rice to Reduce Arsenic

Cooking rice like pasta reduces the heavy metal toxin arsenic, and it's easier with no measuring.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Asian
Keyword rice
Servings 10


  • 1 pound rice well rinsed
  • enough water to fill a large pot


  • Fill a large pot, 7-8 quarts, 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add a sprinkle of salt and carefully add the rice. Turn the heat down to a low boil and cook rice according to the time on the package. When rice is done, strain off water through a fine sieve or colander.
  • If eating right away, add a little butter, ghee, olive or coconut oil as preferred plus salt. If meal prepping ahead, spread the rice on a rimmed half sheet baking pan and allow to cool. Once cool, portion and freeze. Rice will keep in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
  1. Deborah Wright - January 25th, 2021

    Hi Sally… great article! Whenever I cook white rice, I soak it in cold water for 20 minutes, then rinse. Then soak again for another 20 minutes in cold water and then rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. Does that help eliminate the arsenic as well?

  2. Sally Cameron - January 25th, 2021

    Hi Deb. Nice to hear from you. That probably helps a lot. Rinsing is a good idea. Forgot to add that so thanks, will note. Rinse well and cook like pasta. To me that saves time versus two rinse and soaks. If you don’t mind the extra step do as you are, but try the pasta method as well. Let me know what you think. By some studies I’ve read that should reduce the arsenic by 50%-80%.

  3. Terry Brown - January 25th, 2021

    Great recipe. I’ve cooked rice for years and years years. Did NOT realize there was arsenic in it. Is there any issue with nutrients in the unhulled rice my family prefers?

  4. Sally Cameron - January 25th, 2021

    I know, right? I was shocked. My understanding is that all rice is hulled because the hull is inedible. Are you talking about brown rice? That is a whole grain because the bran, germ and endosperm are all intact, but no hull. (and for other colored rices such as black, purple, red) and it’s the most nutritious. Not true for white rice, which we rarely eat.Our favorite brown rice is from Lundberg Farms. It’s brown so lower glycemic, lovely short plump grain, organic, and it’s sprouted so easier to digest and you absorb more nutrition due to the sprouting. Plus take a look at those links at the bottom for more reading and info. There is one more I want to add but can’t find it!

  5. Rhonda - January 27th, 2021

    Nice article. Wish there was a way to reduce the levels in a rice cooker.

  6. Sally Cameron - January 27th, 2021

    Hi Rhonda. I know. All you can do is rinse real well, that will help. Thinking out loud…maybe if you par boil the rice for 5 minutes in boiling water then add to the rice cooker and cook as normal. That should reduce, but it’s really an extra step. Although I’ve tried making rice in rice cookers, pressure cookers, Instant Pots, I prefer the stovetop. It’s so easy like this (pasta method). I cook a pound at once and cool, portion and freeze so I don’t make it very often.

  7. Michelle Kissel - May 14th, 2021

    Hi Sal, I love using the IP, as I can put it in, walk away and come back up to 45 min later and my rice has always been perfect. Also, I always cook with chicken broth, but of course don’t want to use that much and toss down drain, so I guess I’ll rethink that part too. I do rinse my rice, but have not been soaking it.

    My question is, are there any rice varieties (aside from Aborio you mentioned above) that this method does not work well with? My MIL loves basmati, so I tend to use that often, or at least when she is here. Thanks!

  8. Sally Cameron - May 19th, 2021

    Hi Michelle. Yep, the walk away part is so great, right? This should work with any rice except something like Arborio or Carnaroli which is risotto rice.

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