The word ‘radioactive’ sounds alarming and conjures images of danger and disease, especially when you hear it’s in our food. However, what many people don’t know is that natural radioactivity is present all around us, including in many of the foods we consume daily. It is important to emphasize that the amounts of radioactivity in these foods are extremely low and declared safe for consumption by scientific bodies. Remember this before you set aside your banana breakfast or a handful of Brazil nuts out of fear of radioactivity.

1. Brazil Nut – 12,000 picocuries per kilogram

With a radioactivity level of 12,000 picocuries per kilogram, Brazil nuts stand head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to radioactivity in food. This is due to their uptake of radium from the soil, making them the undisputed number one in this list.
The amount of radium, a radioactive element, in Brazil nuts is 1000 times higher than in other foods, although the absolute amount per unit weight is very small, resulting in radiation of about 40-260 Bq/kg. The majority of the radium ingested from eating Brazil nuts is not absorbed by the body. Compared to the natural radiation we receive daily from natural causes, the amount is still small. Eating Brazil nuts therefore poses no direct risk to health.

2. Lima Bean – 4,600 picocuries per kilogram

Lima beans contain 4,600 picocuries per kilogram, taking the second place. Their higher levels of radioactivity can be attributed to the way these beans absorb radium from the earth.

3. Bananas – 3,500 picocuries per kilogram

Known as a source of potassium, bananas also contain a naturally radioactive isotope of potassium, potassium-40, giving them a radioactivity level of 3,500 picocuries per kilogram.

4. Potatoes – 3,400 picocuries per kilogram

Like bananas, potatoes contain potassium-40, resulting in a radioactivity level of 3,400 picocuries per kilogram. This makes potatoes, a staple food in many diets, also slightly radioactive.

5. Carrots – 3,400 picocuries per kilogram

Carrots share the same radioactivity level as potatoes, 3,400 picocuries per kilogram, due to their uptake of radioactive materials from the soil.

6. Red Meat – 3,000 picocuries per kilogram

Red meat has a radioactivity of 3,000 picocuries per kilogram. This is due to the uptake of radium by plants which are then eaten by animals.

7. Avocados – 2,500 picocuries per kilogram

This popular fruit has a radioactivity level of 2,500 picocuries per kilogram, thanks to their potassium content and the natural uptake of radioactive elements from the soil.

8. Beer – 390 picocuries per kilogram

Yes, even your favorite pint is slightly radioactive, with 390 picocuries per kilogram. This is due to the ingredients used such as water and hops, which can contain naturally occurring radioactive elements.

9. Water – 170 picocuries per kilogram

With 170 picocuries per kilogram, water also makes the list. Water can contain traces of radioactive materials, depending on the source.

10. Peanut Butter – 120 picocuries per kilogram

Last but not least, we find peanut butter with 120 picocuries per kilogram. Peanuts too absorb radium from the soil, contributing to their level of radioactivity.

Although the levels in these foods are far below the threshold considered harmful to health, it reminds us of how ubiquitous natural radioactivity is in our environment.

Menno, from the Netherlands, is an expert in unearthing fascinating facts and unraveling knowledge. At Top10HQ, he delves into the depths of various subjects, from science to history, bringing readers well-researched and intriguing insights.

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