Even that rice you’re eating might not be good for you

The old saying, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” seems custom-made for food knowledge.

It seems the more we know — thankfully coffee is exempt, sort of — the more we realize that what we think is good for us has some obvious downside.

Add rice to the list of foods you can’t just blithely eat without some concern.

According to this piece online at the New York Times, it turns out rice is sort of a sponge for metals and other not-good-for-us things lurking in the soil:

If the fields are flooded in the traditional paddy method, she has found, the rice handily takes up arsenic. But if the water is reduced in an effort to limit arsenic, the plant instead absorbs cadmium — also a dangerous element.

“It’s almost either-or, day-and-night as to whether we see arsenic or cadmium in the rice,” said Dr. Guerinot, a molecular geneticist and professor of biology at Dartmouth College.

The levels of arsenic and cadmium at the study site are not high enough to provoke alarm, she emphasized. Still, it is dawning on scientists like her that rice, one of the most widely consumed foods in the world, is also one of nature’s great scavengers of metallic compounds.

While you aren’t going to OD on one bowl of rice, the problem is the consistent consumption of rice — that adds up. The FDA (which I know we all trust implicitly) now suggests varying the consumption of grain, in part to avoid getting too much bad stuff with any one particular kind. Another example of striking a balance with diet, and just about everything else.

That’s a luxury, though. Rice remains a staple in so many cultures.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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