If you aren't in the habit of rinsing out your rice before you cook it, you might be increasing your odds of getting health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
According to researchers, cooking rice by steaming it exposes consumers to trace amounts of arsenic as a result of toxins and pesticides used to grow the grain.
Professor Andy Meharg at Queen's University Belfast equates the risk of eating contaminated rice to smoking cigarettes: "The more you eat, the higher your risk is," he explained on BBC's "Trust Me, I'm A Doctor."
Despite the fact that rice has 10-20 times more arsenic in it compared to other cereal grains, Meharg says adults who eat a few portions of rice weekly aren't at a high risk but children and babies might be since even low levels of arsenic can impact immune development, growth, and IQ development.
Determined to reduce arsenic levels, Meharg conducted a series of experiments while cooking rice. In the first, he simply steamed the rice as is, which left most of the arsenic present. In the second experiment, Meharg rinsed the rice in five parts water one part rice, which halved arsenic levels. But the safest method, he determined, was to soak the rice in a 5:1 water ratio overnight and rinsing it until the water runs clear, which reduces toxins by 80 per cent.
Though rice often gets a bad rap for being too high in carbohydrates, the grain does contain health benefits — especially if you opt for brown rice, which is high in fibre.