The Common Snack You Never Realized Was Radioactive

To state the obvious, food is amazing. Mother Nature has given fruits, vegetables, herbs, meats, and other vital sources of nourishment some pretty awesome features that are beneficial to humans and animals and other characteristics that are just plain fascinating. For example, did you know that figs contain as much calcium as milk? Or that apples, cherries, and raspberries are related to roses? Were you aware that nutmeg has hallucinogenic qualities? And why is it that lemons float in water but limes sink to the bottom?

Some folks may be also surprised to learn that bananas technically belong to the berry family, per WebMD, since they develop from a single flower with one ovary. However, there's one other shocking thing you should know about these yellow wonders. If you've ever dreamt of being a superhero, it's important to be strong, but you could probably afford a few powers, too. Bananas are incredible — for reasons beyond what you may imagine, though no one can dispute how bananas make the best recipes. Let's investigate why via a quick chemistry lesson.

Bananas are slightly radioactive

Next time you take a bite out of a banana or slice it over a bowl of your favorite cereal, know that you're eating a food that is naturally radioactive. But what does this mean, exactly? To put it simply, radioactivity is the emission of rays of energy when atoms of certain elements are broken down. As you likely already know, bananas are an excellent source of potassium. However, a McGill University study explains that 0.012% of potassium atoms are radioactive.

Furthermore, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, bananas contain minuscule amounts of the radioactive isotope potassium-40. Science Focus reports that, in order for a person to become radioactive, they would have to consume a lot of bananas. To put it in perspective, 50 million bananas are equivalent to the lethal radiation dose. More importantly, humans are radioactive beings, too! Our bodies normally contain approximately 140 g of potassium and 16 mg of the potassium-40 isotope. This means you're already about 280 times more radioactive than a banana! 

That being said, there's no reason to be concerned about becoming glow-in-the-dark after eating a banana or two any time soon. Even if you eat a banana or two every day, your body will remain perfectly healthy.