Gluten Free Diets and Arsenic

With more and more people eating gluten free diets, some concern has been raised as to what is being eaten in its place. When you take gluten grains out of your diet—wheat, spelt, barley, kamut, rye, and oats (technically oats do not contain gluten but are often contaminated with wheat during processing)—your grain options become limited.  Your remaining options are rice, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, sorghum, teff, quinoa and amaranth. Many gluten free breads, pastas, and flours use rice as their main ingredient. Rice naturally uptakes higher amounts of arsenic than other grains and in some cases rice is grown in paddies that cover soil which was previously used to grow cotton and was heavily sprayed with pesticides containing arsenic.

There are a few precautions you can take to reduce your arsenic exposure from rice:

1. Eat a diversity of grains other than just rice.
2. Choose rice that is known to be lower in arsenic such as varieties grown in California. Lundberg Family Farms rice in California has never been grown on fields previously used for cotton.
3. Rinse your rice thoroughly and cook in 6 cups of water to 1 cup of rice and drain off the excess water after cooking. This will reduce 30% of the arsenic, but will also rob some nutrients as well.
4. White rice contains less arsenic than brown rice but is lower in nutritional value. Eating a blend of white and brown rice may be a good option.