Special Report

Bananas Are Radioactive and Other Surprising Food Facts

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1. Bananas are radioactive

Many everyday objects give off tiny doses of radiation — watches, ceramics, antique glassware, and more. Food does too. Brazil nuts are the biggest culprit in this regard, followed by butter beans. But bananas emit more than other common foods (their radioactivity comes from the isotope potassium-40). The dose is tiny, however. One scientist has computed that you’d have to eat 274 bananas a day for seven years before you started showing any signs of radiation poisoning.

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2. Potatoes and carrots are radioactive, too

Yes, these are two more common foods in which radioactivity can be measured. Others include red meat, avocados, and — perhaps most troublesome of all for some people — beer. Oh, and ordinary tap water, too.

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3. Tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini aren’t vegetables

Botanically, if an article of produce has its seeds on the inside instead of the exterior, it’s a fruit. Tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, pumpkins, tomatillos, and avocados all qualify.

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4. Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries aren’t berries

Just because a fruit has “berry” as part of its name, don’t assume that a botanist would classify it as such. Scientifically, a berry is a fruit that grows from a single flower with a single ovary (which in flowers is the base of the pistil), and our most common so-called berries don’t qualify. They do grow from a single flower, but one with more than one ovary, and so are properly termed “aggregate fruits.”

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5. Pumpkins, bananas, and avocados ARE berries

Just to make things even more confusing, by the botanical definition of a berry, the term may be correctly used to describe such things as pumpkins, avocados, and those radioactive bananas.

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