Low-arsenic rice discovery 'very good news' for millions of Bangladeshis
London, Feb. 13 : Scientists in the UK have identified aromatic rice from Bangladesh that has far lower arsenic concentrations than found in non-aromatic rice, and containing higher amounts of selenium and zinc.
Dr. Parvez Haris from De Montfort University, Leicester, UK said it is a very important finding since consumption of certain types of aromatic rice will not only reduce human exposure to arsenic, but will also increase their intake of zinc and selenium.
Dr. Haris and his team carried out a detailed study on rice from the greater Sylhet region in the north-east of Bangladesh, which generally has a lower groundwater arsenic concentration, stated the report in Biomedical Spectroscopy and Imaging.
Several varieties of Sylheti aromatic rice even had lower arsenic than the well-known Basmati aromatic rice from India and Pakistan, he said.
Dr. Haris said it is "very good news" for millions of Bangladeshis who are exposed to high concentration of arsenic through drinking water and rice.
Millions of people worldwide are regularly exposed to high amounts of arsenic through drinking water and eating rice grown in soil. Long-term exposure to arsenic can lead to the development of different types of cancer as well as serious cardiovascular, neurological, and other health problems.
Bangladeshis, whose staple food is rice, consume on average half a kilogram of rice daily.
Haris recommends that the authorities in Bangladesh encourage farmers to cultivate more aromatic rice.
The impact of this finding may also have health implications for other groups of people who eat large quantities of rice daily, the report said.
According to Dr. Haris, this type of rice could be used in infant foods instead of rice with higher arsenic concentrations. It could also benefit people suffering from celiac disease who consume rice-based foods on a regular basis.