The Rice Debate: What is the Best Choice for Your Health?

The Rice Debate

By Niti Shah

Thousands of rice varieties are enjoyed as part of the staple diet by millions of people across the world. But which is the healthiest? And, how do you avoid arsenic in rice?

What is the Best Rice Choice for Your Health?

Learn the pros and cons of white, brown and parboiled rice, so you can make a healthy choice.

What is Brown Rice and How is it Made?

Brown rice or un-milled rice is whole grain rice. When only the outermost layer of a grain of rice (the husk or hull) is removed, brown rice is produced. It has a mild, nutty flavor and is chewier and more nutritious than white rice. One cup of cooked brown rice contains 84 mg of magnesium compared to 19 mg in white rice.

How is White Rice Made?

White rice is produced when the next layers underneath the husk — the bran and the germ are removed leaving mostly the starchy endosperm.Whole Grains Explained

Several vitamins and dietary minerals are lost in this polishing process like when making long grain Basmati rice. Hence, many manufacturers fortify it with vitamins and minerals to make up for the lost ones. Although one mineral that is not added back to white rice is magnesium.

After reading this you might say, “I am switching to brown rice today”. But, wait there is more to learn before you switch.

Ever heard of parboiled rice? It may be the perfect rice for you.

What Exactly is Parboiled Rice and How is it Made?

Parboiled rice is also known as converted rice and is steamed under pressure or partially boiled before removing the hull and bran. The four steps of parboiling include soaking, steaming, and drying, and then removing the rice husk. This process enhances the nutrition density by driving nutrients from the bran into the endosperm, making it about 80% nutritionally similar to brown rice.

Parboiled rice is a better source of fiber, B vitamins, and magnesium than regular white rice. Parboiled rice might sound like it’s pre-cooked, but it is not. It’s just processed differently from other types of rice.

Have You Heard About Arsenic in Rice?

Arsenic is an element found in nature, but is a cause of concern these days because the levels of arsenic found in our soil and water is increasing. Arsenic has been released into the environment through the use of excess pesticides. And, rice tends to absorb arsenic more readily than other plants.

Arsenic accumulates in the grains outer layers so brown rice tends to have more arsenic in it. Brown rice has 80% more arsenic on average than white rice of the same type. Brown rice has more nutrients though, so you shouldn’t switch entirely to white rice.

All types of rice made in the U.S. particularly in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas tested high in arsenic in a study conducted by Consumer Reports. White Basmati rice from California and India had on average half the amount of arsenic.

Tip to Reduce Arsenic in Rice

You can cut the exposure to arsenic in any type of rice by rinsing raw rice thoroughly before cooking using a ratio of six cups of water to one cup of rice. Drain excess water afterward.

For more information on arsenic in your rice, check out these links – Consumer Reports: Arsenic in Rice and EWG report.

Pros & Cons of Brown, White & Parboiled Rice

Brown Rice

Pros: Highly nutritious

Cons: Comes with risk of high arsenic depending on where it was grown. You have to develop a taste for it.

White Rice

Pros: Low risk of arsenic because the outer layers are removed in manufacturing.

Cons: Low nutrient content similar to white flour. High in starch/high glycemic score.

Parboiled Rice

Pros: Nutritious. Double the fiber compared to white rice. Excellent source of niacin, thiamine, and magnesium, and a moderate source of protein, iron and zinc.

Low glycemic score of 38, even lower than brown rice at 47 and white rice at 89 (source: Harvard Health Publications). A low glycemic score indicates that the carbohydrates in parboiled rice do not cause a large spike in blood sugar.

More resistant starch which helps lower blood glucose levels. Improves insulin sensitivity.

Less arsenic compared to brown rice.

Cons: 20% less nutritious compared to brown rice.

After learning the pros and cons of brown, white and parboiled, I selected the middle ground with healthy parboiled rice. The nutritional value, low glycemic value and lower risk of arsenic convinced me.

Where to Buy Parboiled Rice

Given rice grown in India has lower amounts of arsenic compared to the rice grown in the southern U.S., I prefer to buy my parboiled rice from an Indian grocery store. My favorite brand is Laxmi. If you prefer long grain rice, buy the parboiled Basmati by Laxmi. Otherwise, opt for the smaller grain ponni boiled. Ponni boiled is similar in processing to parboiled but with smaller grain. If you’re local store doesn’t carry it, try Amazon.

Healthy Tip – Add Protein to Your Carbs Using this Simple Tip

To add protein to your daily carbs, mix 1/3 cup of quinoa to one cup of rice. Rinse thoroughly and soak for 30 minutes before cooking. Adding quinoa does not change the taste and works like a charm even with picky eaters!

What’s your favorite rice? Had you ever heard of parboiled rice? Are you considering trying it?



About the Author:

Niti Shah is a Physical Therapist turned into a Wellness Blogger/Writer with a keen interest in her family’s health. Her blog is her shot at creating awareness for common diet and lifestyle inaccuracies that get missed in the daily hustle. Her hope is that you apply these functional and practical recommendations that she learned the hard way for superior health! Check out her blog at Family Health SOS and follow her on Facebook


The Simple Mistake You Make When Buying Cleaning Products

The Simple Mistake You Make When Buying Cleaning Products

You consider yourself pretty savvy. You’ve done your homework. You know about harmful substances in cleaning and laundry products. And, because you care about your health and your family, you started buying products labeled as “green” or “all natural”. It all seems reasonable, right?

It seems reasonable to assume that when you buy a product labeled green or all natural that it’s free of harmful chemicals. You assume that some U.S. regulatory body has regulations in place to define these terms. You also reasonably assume that if a company marketed their product as All Natural when it really wasn’t, that there would be repercussions.

Sadly, none of these assumptions is correct.

If you’re like most people, you’re having a hard time believing that it’s a mistake to trust cleaning and laundry product labels. And, that there’s no governmental watchdog looking out for you.

Laundry & Cleaning Products Labeling – No Guarantees

The terms All-Natural or Green don’t guarantee you’re buying a safe, all-natural product.


Because no US government body regulates these label terms. So, you could buy a product labeled “Green” that contained substances that are generally accepted as harmful. As a result, you cannot rely on these terms to find the safest products.

The Environmental Protection Agency ( discloses the issue with cleaning and laundry product labeling on their site.

“Remember that when you see words like green, all natural, organic, eco-friendly, and environmentally friendly on a cleaning product label, they have no legal meaning.”

“Cleaning products marketed as “natural” typically use chemicals made from corn or other biological sources, rather than petroleum. While these cleaning products may be made out of renewable resources, their “natural” ingredients are still chemically identical to those made from petroleum, so their potential health and environmental impacts during and after use would be the same.”

So, what should you do? Start studying the label ingredients? If only this worked! The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), the regulator of cleaning and laundry products and soap, has lax labeling regulations.

How lax? The CPSC gives manufacturers much leeway on the ingredient list; they can list all, none or some of the ingredients.

Here’s what the EPA has to say about cleaning product labeling requirements. Note the acknowledgement that it’s hard to find safer products using labels.

“Unlike food products, manufacturers of chemical products are not required to list ingredients on their containers or make them public.”

“It is hard to find safer products because manufacturers of cleaning products don’t have to test their products to make sure they are safe for people and the environment. They don’t have to list the ingredients they use on the label of a product.”

It’s troubling, isn’t it? Unregulated terms, ingredients that aren’t unlisted on the label and no product testing.

So, how can you find safer cleaning and laundry products?

 Do-It-Yourself Cleaning & Laundry Products

You’ve got a couple of options for finding safer cleaning and laundry products. You can either make your own or buy trusted brands.

Making your own cleaning products isn’t that difficult, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re new to DIY cleaners, you can start out with a simple all-purpose cleaner. You’ll find that vinegar, salt, baking soda, lemon and tea tree oil in the right formulas can work amazingly well.

For some of the best DIY kitchen cleaners, try these kitchen cleaning formulas. Simple to make. Got a dirty oven? Try this proven way to clean up your oven with just two ingredients, no nasty fumes and almost no elbow-grease.


Use The Shopping List

Shopping List Cleaning ProductsIf you are recoiling at the thought of creating your own, you have other options. You can buy trusted and tested brands. How do you find these brands? Pure Living Space has compiled a shopping list of 23 safer products. These products are available at your local natural grocery store.

Print the list and take it with you shopping. The shopping list cross-references the Environmental Working Group ratings with Whole Food’s rating system. If it’s on the list, you can feel certain it’s a safer product.

You’ll find safer bathroom and kitchen cleaners, dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, all-purpose cleaners and more. To get the list, simply sign up for the Pure Living Space Newsletter. It’s one of the free bonuses. Sign up now.


Focus on Trusted Brands

Another option to finding safer cleaning and laundry products is to buy trusted brands. Trusted brands disclose ingredients and use safer ingredients.

These include Green Mission™, GreenShield Organics and MamaSuds. The first two brands are available in retail stores.

MamaSuds is available now at Pure Living Space. Many products ship free and the rest ship with a low flat rate. You’ll want to try the best-sellers including All-Purpose Cleaner, Foaming Hand Soap (one of the few without Triclosan), Laundry Soap, Toilet Bombs and Hand Sanitizer.

Many products come unscented or you can opt for a variety of essential oils scents (lavender, lemon, orange, cinnamon, etc.) You don’t have to worry about unhealthy perfumes or questionable ingredients. And, these are proven products that have been tested and work well. They receive stellar reviews from Environmental Working Group SkinDeep database which reviews over 70,000 personal care and cleaning products. Plus, MamaSuds is endorsed by Leaping Bunny meaning that their products are certified cruelty-free.

You’ll love the convenience of having your laundry soap delivered directly to your door. No more lugging products around the grocery store or worrying about whether they’ll be carrying your brand.

Please share!