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Health Benefits of Low-Arsenic Rice from Bangladesh

Scientists have recently found that the aromatic rice in the Sylhet region of Bangladesh has very low arsenic concentrations versus those found in non-aromatic rice.  Moreover, it also has high amount of zinc and selenium as an added benefit.  The study led by Dr. Parvez Harris from De Montfort University, was disclosed in Biomedical Spectroscopy and Imaging.

In the previous studies, rice samples from Bangladesh showed high concentration of arsenic as these were taken from regions where the irrigation water contains high amounts of arsenic.

The research team therefore analyzed about a hundred rice samples from the greater region of Sylhet that has mostly lower groundwater arsenic concentration and studied a selected group of samples the total arsenic and arsenic species.

The findings revealed that aromatic rice was 40% lower in arsenic concentration than non-aromatic varieties and contained higher amount of trace elements such as zinc and selenium. Also, several varieties of Sylheti rice have even lesser arsenic than the famous Basmati rice from India and Pakistan.

Furthermore, since aromatic rice is cultivated mostly during the wet season, it therefore requires less groundwater for irrigation as well as fertilizers and pesticides. And even though the aromatic rice has lower yield, it still is more economical in the long run as farmers need not spend much on chemicals that can harm their health and pollute the environment. Lesser spending as well on fuel cost as there will be lesser need to pump groundwater for irrigation.

According to Dr. Harris, the aromatic rice can be fed to infants in lieu of the rice with high arsenic concentration and can be beneficial to people suffering for celiac disease. He concluded that there is a need for further research on aromatic rice from different parts in Bangladesh and other regions of the world.


IOS Press BV. Low-arsenic rice discovered in Bangladesh could have major health benefits. ScienceDaily.


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