Beyond differences in color, the differences between brown rice and white rice largely arise from the manufacturing process. While the outer shell, or hull, of rice grains is removed to make brown rice edible, white rice is produced by further removing the bran and germ layers, then polishing the grain. While this process eliminates much of the nutritional benefits of eating brown rice, many of the allergy- and toxin-related dangers of eating rice are shared between the two.
As is true with all manufactured foods, always read the label before purchasing anything if you suffer from food allergies. With the variety of products made using brown rice, including flours, breads and snack foods, many brown rice manufacturers use the same facilities for an assortment of foods. As contact with allergenic foods, such as those containing soy, gluten and nuts, can lead to severe reactions in allergic individuals, ensure any brown rice products that you purchase are allergy-free before eating.
If you have excess rice after cooking, store it in the fridge for no more than four to seven days. Over time, the moist, nutrient-rich environment of brown rice can serve as a breeding ground for a variety of molds, bacteria and fungi. Tryptophan, an amino acid present in brown rice, can be converted by some of these microorganisms to a compound called alpha-picolinic acid. If consumed, alpha-picolinic acid can can rice hypersensitivity and apoptosis, a condition involving accelerated cell death and tissue damage.
Aside from its damaging effects on the environment, arsenic can cause tissue damage, organ failure and death in humans. According to a 2007 report published in "The Telegraph," rice contains potentially dangerous levels of arsenic if consumed in large quantities over time. While this is true of a variety of types of rice, the article singles out brown rice, particularly that produced in the U.S., as having among the highest concentrations of arsenic. By purchasing organic rice, limiting your rice intake and eating a balanced diet, however, "The Telegraph" suggests that health issues associated with long-term arsenic consumption can be avoided.
Aspergillus Section Flavi
Among the molds, bacteria and fungi that can grow on brown rice, Aspergillus section flavi is among the most dangerous. This fungus, known as an aflatoxin, has the potential to cause cancer if consumed. As this fungus can grow on both cooked and uncooked rice, it is important to properly prepare rice and consume it as soon as possible after cooking to eliminate your risks of consuming aflatoxins. Although the risk of aflatoxin poisoning is relatively low, proper preparation, storage and health-conscious purchasing can help you to avoid many of the dangers associated with eating brown rice.
- No Nuttin': Allergen Declarations
- Cook Brown Rice: How to Store Brown Rice
- "Cell Research"; Alpha-Picolinic Acid, a Fungal Toxin and Mammal Apoptosis-Inducing Agent, Elicits Hypersensitive-Like Response and Enhances Disease Resistance in Rice; Hai K. Zhang et al.; February 2004
- "The Telegraph"; 'Dangerous' Levels of Arsenic in 10pc of Rice; Charles Clover; August 2007
- "Mycologia"; Characterization of Aflatoxin-Producing Fungi Outside of Aspergillus Section Flavi; JW Cary et al.; March-April 2005
- Cornell University Department of Animal Science: Aflatoxins: Occurrence and Health Risks