Nutrition

Arsenic in rice milk, rice crispies, and brown rice syrup

I recommend people deviate from rice milk

In children and adolescents, the amount of arsenic flowing through their bodies was about 15 percent higher for every quarter cup of rice consumed per day, and a similar association was found in adults. A study of pregnant women found that consuming about half a cup of cooked rice a day can increase urinary arsenic levels just as much as drinking a liter of arsenic-contaminated water at the current federal upper safe limit. These results suggest that many people in the United States could be exposed to potentially harmful levels of arsenic from consumption of rice. what I explore in my video Arsenic in rice milk, rice crispies, and brown rice syrup.

Do you know where Americans get most of their rice arsenic from? From Rice Krispies, although granola with brown rice chips may contain twice as much as I discuss in my video Arsenic in rice milk, rice crispies, and brown rice syrup.

“Organic natural rice syrup (OBRS) is used as a sweetener in organic foods as an alternative to high-fructose corn syrup.” Big mistake, as organic products made from brown rice syrup can introduce “significant concentrations” of toxic arsenic into people’s diet. For example, two energy chews sweetened with brown rice syrup might hit the tentative upper daily arsenic intake based on water standards.

“Toddler formulas with added organic rice syrup contain 20 times more inorganic substances [toxic] Arsenic as normal formulas ”and in older children, thanks to brown rice syrup, a few muesli bars per day“ represent a very high cancer risk ”.

What about rice milk? A consensus statement from both European and North American Pediatric Nutrition Societies recommends “avoiding rice drinks for infants and young children” and, in general, “minimizes the toxic intake of inorganic arsenic in infancy and childhood”.

To this end, the UK has banned the consumption of rice milk for young children. Consumer reports agreed with this thought and recommended no servings of rice milk per week for children and no more than half a cup per day for adults as you can see at 1:56 in mine Video.

The arsenic in different brands of rice milk varies greatly – in fact, there is a 15-fold difference between the highest and lowest levels of contamination, suggesting that manufacturers could make low-arsenic rice milk if they wanted to. As you can see in mine at 2:16 VideoConsumer reports found that Pacific and Rice Dream branded rice drinks were, on average, right. With Rice Dream, however, the vanilla or chocolate flavors may appear to be less. It seems we don’t have to worry about rice vinegar, but rice noodles and rice cakes are similar to pure rice in terms of arsenic content, which makes sense because it is pretty much what it is – pure rice. However, pasta is cooked, so we would expect the levels to drop by 40 to 60 percent, such as when you cook rice and drain it.

If for some reason you couldn’t live without rice milk, you could make your own lower arsenic rice like brown basmati from India, Pakistan or California, but your homemade rice milk might have even less nutrition than most of the other private label brands are at least fortified. Better options might be soy, oat, hemp, or almond milk, although you don’t want kids to drink too much almond milk. There have been some case reports of young children who drink four cups a day and encounter kidney stone problems due to their relatively high oxalate content, which averages about five times that of soy milk. More about oxalates in my video series starting with Oxalates in Spinach and Kidney Stones: Should We Worry?

I have around 40 videos about soy milk that discuss topics like normalizing development in girls and reducing breast cancer risk, as well as prostate cancer risk in men. Some of the latest science on soy milk includes an association with better x-rays of the knee, suggesting protection against osteoarthritis, and an interventional study, suggesting improving gut health by encouraging the growth of good bacteria. However, if you drink 3 liters a day, that is, 10 to 12 cups a day, for a year, it can inflame your liver. However, two cups a day can have an extraordinary effect on your cholesterol, causing a whopping 25 percent drop in bad cholesterol after just 21 days.

One and a half ounces of almonds, roughly a handful a day, can lower LDL cholesterol by 13 percent and reduce belly fat in six weeks, though a cup of almond milk only contains about ten almonds, which is less than a third of what was in the study used. So it’s not clear if almond milk helps much, but there was a study of oat milk versus rice milk. As you can see in mine at 4:37 VideoFive weeks of oat milk lowered bad cholesterol while rice milk didn’t, and even raised triglycerides and can raise blood pressure a little. The oat milk only lowered the LDL level by about 5 percent, and that with three cups a day. As a herbal alternative, soy milk seems to win the day.

So why drink rice milk at all when there are better options like this? Rice milk really doesn’t contain a lot of nutrition. In fact, there have been case reports of severe malnutrition in young children whose diets focused on rice milk due to multiple food allergies. Infants and young children have a higher protein requirement than adults. So if the bulk of a child’s diet is rice milk, coconut milk, potato milk, or almond milk, they may not be getting enough as you can see in my 5:23 am article Video. In fact, cases of kwashiorkor – that condition of malnutrition with bloated abdominal protein and lack of calories – have been reported in Ethiopia and Atlanta, Georgia, since literally 99 percent of the child’s diet was rice milk. So these cases of malnutrition were not due to their drinking rice milk, but rather to the fact that they drank almost exclusively rice milk. I’m only using these examples to illustrate the relative lack of nutrition in rice milk. If you choose a milk alternative, you can go for one with less arsenic and more nutrition.

I have posted several videos about soy milk but only one so far about almond milk: Prostate cancer and organic milk against almond milk. I plan to produce a lot more by choosing between different milk options, so stay tuned.

If you missed any of the useful materials about arsenic in food that I shared too, please read:

The last four videos in this series take all of this information and try to turn it into practical recommendations:

In health,

Michael Greger, MD

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