Many people associate radiation with medical procedures such as x-rays, CT scans and radiation therapy. They may not be aware that naturally occurring radiation does not come from a medical procedure but from chemicals inside your body. The human body is made up of many different radioactive materials and many everyday foods contain radioactive materials. The radioactive materials found in most food sources are the isotopes of radon-226 and potassium-40.
According to Idaho State University, Brazil nuts are the food source with the greatest amount of radioactivity. The radioactive concentration in Brazil nuts is 1,000 to 7,000 pCi/kg of radon-226 and 5,600pCi/kg of potassium-40. The unit pCi refers to a unit of radiation known as the picocurie. A picocurie is one trillionth of one curie, which is approximately the level of everyday background radiation and should not be cause for concern. However, radon-226 and potassium-40 are radioactive isotopes that are present in high concentrations in Brazil nuts and many other foods.
Radon-226 and potassium-40 are also present in significant concentrations in lima beans. The radioactive concentration in lima beans is 2 to 5 pCi/kg of radon-226 and 4,640 pCi/kg of potassium-40. The consumption of lima beans can lead to many medicinal benefits. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, lima beans are also a very rich source of iron which can can benefit individuals on an iron-rich diet for treatment of iron deficiency anemia.
Bananas are another food source of naturally occurring radioactive material. The radioactive concentration in bananas is 1 pCi/kg of radon-226 and 3,520 pCi/kg of potassium-40. The consumption of bananas also provide beneficial medical properties. According to BBCNews, the consumption of potassium rich foods such as bananas is effective in the regulation of blood pressure. Bananas contain chemicals that inhibit the angiotensin converting enzyme, which acts to constrict blood vessels and raise blood pressure.
White potatoes also contain a significant concentration of naturally occurring radioactive materials. The radioactive concentration in white potatoes is 1 to 2.5 pCi/kg of radon-226 and 3,400 pCi/kg of potassium-40. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, potatoes are very rich source of many essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, folic acid, flavonoids and kukoamines. Kukoamines are a chemical found in white potatoes that have blood pressure lowering effects in the human body.