It is widely known that bananas are radioactive. But it does not mean that it will have any harmful effect on you. Bananas are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. As long as you consume bananas in moderation, it would be a healthy choice to make.
Why bananas are radioactive?
Natural radioactivity in food is a common phenomenon. You will be surprised to know that it’s not only bananas that are radioactive. It’s just that bananas are one of the most widely consumed food items across the globe. When people read or hear about banana’s radioactive properties, there’s usually a sense of worry. People are not sure if they should continue eating bananas or stop it altogether.
The fact is there are several other food items that are radioactive. These include Brazil nuts, which have a much higher radioactive content in comparison to banana. Other naturally occurring radioactive food items include butter beans, potatoes, carrots, avocadoes, and red meat.
Bananas are radioactive as they contain significant amount of potassium. Bananas are often recommended to people who may be experiencing potassium deficiency. Similarly, people at risk of high potassium levels (hyperkalemia) are advised to avoid bananas. Some of the potassium found in bananas is naturally occurring radioactive isotopes like potassium-40 (40K). This is what makes bananas radioactive.
Radioactivity of banana is described as ‘banana equivalent dose (BED)’, which is equal to 10−7 sievert (0.1 μSv). This is quite small to make any adverse impact on your health. Moreover, a healthy body constantly regulates potassium levels. Any excess is excreted. If you don’t have issues like hyperkalemia, you should not worry about accumulation of radioactive potassium in your body.
Even the human body is radioactive to a certain extent. That’s because an average adult has 140 grams of potassium in their body. Around 16 mg of this is radioactive potassium. This makes you a lot more radioactive than a single banana. You will have to eat a lot of bananas to experience the symptoms of radioactive poisoning.
How many bananas will kill you?
An average sized banana emits around .01 millirem (0.1 microsieverts) of radiation. In comparison, the natural radiation present in the atmosphere is much more. You need to eat around 100 bananas to reach the level of radiation present in the environment.
For getting killed by radiation poisoning through bananas, you will have to eat 10 million bananas at once. For chronic symptoms of radiation poisoning, you will have to eat around 274 bananas per day for 7 years.
All this shows that bananas are essentially safe for most people. It’s only when you have conditions like hyperkalemia that you need to consult your doctor about consuming bananas.