There's naturally occurring arsenic in rice, and researchers have identified a method of cooking it that will get rid of the majority of it. In a paper published in Science of the Total Environment, researchers with the University of Sheffield's Institute for Sustainable Food tested a number of "home friendly cooking treatments" and say they were able to cut the naturally occurring arsenic in brown rice by 54%, and in white rice by 73%—all without also sacrificing the micronutrients found in rice. The way to go? The "parboiling with absorption method," or PBA. It's a somewhat complicated way of describing an easy process: Rice should be parboiled in already boiling water for 5 minutes. That water should then be discarded. Refill the pot with water and cook on a lower heat until the water is absorbed.
The finding comes on the heels of an earlier study from the Institute for Sustainable Food that found 28 of 55 rice samples available for purchase in the UK had levels of arsenic that were higher than what European Commission regulations deem safe for infants or young children. In a press release, lead researcher Dr. Manoj Menon calls the current study "excellent news ... for rice consumers." While previous research has shown that cooking rice in excess water can strip out some of the arsenic found in the outer bran layer, nutrients are also removed. Not so in this case. "We highly recommend this method while preparing rice for infants and children as they are highly vulnerable to arsenic exposure risks." As for why there's so much arsenic in rice in the first place, Science Alert explains it's largely because rice is grown in flooded fields, which enables it to soak up more of the arsenic that's naturally found in soil. (Read more discoveries stories.)