Should you be concerned about arsenic if you eat a gluten-free diet?
Yes. Like most people on a gluten-free diet, rice is likely in a lot of your meals, baked goods, and snacks. Rice can have arsenic at levels that can cause significant health impacts later in life. When you can, eat foods that aren't made with rice and try other grains, like oats and quinoa, instead.
What gluten-free foods have arsenic in them?
Rice is the main gluten-free food with arsenic in it. If you eat a gluten-free diet, you may eat a lot of rice or foods made with rice, such as:
- Cookies made with rice flour
- Crackers made with rice flour
- Rice-based pasta
- Rice cereal
- Rice cakes
- Rice-based baking mixes
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Eat less rice and rice-based foods
- Try new grains. Instead of eating rice in all of your meals, try other grains that have less arsenic in them. For instance: ⇒ Quinoa, ⇒ Oats, ⇒ Corn, ⇒ Flax, ⇒ Amaranth, ⇒ Teff, ⇒ Millet, or ⇒ Buckwheat.
- Choose foods with less rice. When you buy packaged foods, be sure to check the ingredients label for the word rice. Eat less of this food or choose products that don't have rice in them.
- Switch out your rice. Some types of rice have less arsenic than others. When you want to eat rice, choose:
- Quick-cooking rice
- Instant rice
- Sushi rice
- Basmati rice from India, Pakistan, or California
- Cook your rice like you cook pasta. Cooking your rice with extra water and then draining it off can get rid of half the arsenic.
- Read the recommendations on the Arsenic in Rice page to learn about other options to reduce your arsenic exposure through rice.
- Eat a varied diet to make sure you're getting balanced nutrition.
- If you have a private well, test your water for arsenic!
- Review this site to better understand your total arsenic exposure.
- Look for the What You Can Do action steps to reduce your arsenic exposure.
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"We estimate that with the higher concentrations of inorganic arsenic in white and brown rice and rice-based ingredients, people who eat a lot of rice - such as in many gluten-free diets - have an increased risk of inorganic arsenic exposure. Studies haven't yet confirmed this, and the amount of increased arsenic exposure is not known. However, people on a gluten-free diet who are concerned about arsenic exposure should eat a varied, nutritious diet and stay informed about arsenic in food." Dr. Tracy Punshon, Dartmouth College