Science, Tech, Math › Science 10 Common Naturally Radioactive Foods Share Flipboard Email Print Science Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated December 24, 2018 Technically, all food is slightly radioactive. This is because all food and other organic molecules contain carbon, which naturally exists as a mixture of isotopes, including radioactive carbon-14. Carbon-14 is used for carbon dating, a method for identifying the age of fossils. However, some foods emit much more radiation than others. Here's a look at 10 naturally radioactive foods and how much radiation you get from them. 01 of 10 Brazil Nuts Diana Taliun / iStock / Getty Images If there were an award for "Most Radioactive Food," it would go to Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts contain high levels of two radioactive elements: radium and potassium. Potassium is good for you, is used in many biochemical reactions, and is one of the reasons why the human body is itself slightly radioactive. Radium occurs in the ground where the trees grow and is absorbed by the plant's root system. Brazil nuts emit over 6,600 pCi/kilogram of radiation. Most of that radiation passes harmlessly through the body. Meanwhile, the high levels of healthful selenium and other minerals make these nuts healthy to eat in moderation. 02 of 10 Lima Beans Silvia Elena Castañeda Puchetta / EyeEm / Getty Images Lima beans are high in radioactive potassium-40 and also radon-226. Expect to get 2 to 5 pCi/kilogram from radon-226 and 4,640 pCi/kilogram from potassium-40. You don't get any benefit from the radon, but the potassium is a nutritious mineral. Lima beans are also a good source of (non-radioactive) iron. 03 of 10 Bananas Tdo / Stockbyte / Getty Images Bananas are sufficiently radioactive that they can set off radiation alarms at ports and airports. They offer 1 pCi/kilogram from radon-226 and 3,520 pCi/kilogram from potassium-40. The high potassium content is part of why bananas are so nutritious. You do absorb the radiation, but it's not harmful. 04 of 10 Carrots Ursula Alter / Getty Images Carrots give you a pico-Curie or two of radiation per kilogram from radon-226 and about 3,400 pCi/kilogram from potassium-40. The root vegetables are also high in protective antioxidants. 05 of 10 Potatoes Md Didarul Islam / EyeEm / Getty Images As with carrots, white potatoes offer between 1 and 2.5 pCi/kilogram of radon-226 and 3,400 pCi/kilogram of potassium-40. Foods made from potatoes, such as chips and french fries, are similarly slightly radioactive. 06 of 10 Low Sodium Salt Jose Luis Agudo / EyeEm / Getty Images Low sodium or lite salt contains potassium chloride, KCl. You'll get around 3,000 pCi/kilogram per serving. No-sodium salt contains more potassium chloride than low-sodium salt and thus is more radioactive. 07 of 10 Red Meat istetiana / Getty Images Red meat contains appreciable amounts of potassium, and thus potassium-40. Your steak or burger glows to the tune of about 3,000 pCi/kilogram. Meat is also high in protein and iron. The high amount of saturated fat in red meat presents more of a health risk than the radiation level. 08 of 10 Beer Jack Andersen / Getty Images Beer gets it radioactivity from potassium-40. Expect to get about 390 pCi/kilogram. That's only about a tenth the radiation you'd get from the same amount of carrot juice, so from a radiation standpoint, which would you say is healthier? 09 of 10 Drinking Water Westend61 / Getty Images Drinking water isn't pure H2O. Your radiation dose varies according to the water source, On average, expect to pick up about 0.17 pCi/gram from radium-226. 10 of 10 Peanut Butter Arisara Tongdonnoi / EyeEm / Getty Images Peanut butter releases 0.12 pCi/gram of radiation from radioactive potassium-40, radium-226, and radium-228. It's also high in protein and is a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats, so don't let the slight rad count scare you off.