Brazil Nuts - Radioactive Yet Cancer Fighting?

Dec 24, 2007 by Visual Recipes | Filed in Health | 10 Comments

Brazil Nut  Brazil nuts come from the Brazil nut tree which are among the largest trees in the Amazon Rainforest. The trees can grow to be 100 to 150 feet tall and live to be 1,000 years old.  When the nuts fall from the trees, they are gathered up and shipped around the world for consumption and to use for their oils. Bolivia is the largest expediter of the nuts.

Geiger CounterRadioactivity : Because of the extensive root system of the Brazil nut tree, the roots soak up the naturally occurring radium on the soil.  Small amounts of this radium are deposited into the meat of the nut.  Although the amounts are small, the nut still contains 1000 times more radium than other foods do.

After using a mortar and pestle to create Brazil nut butter from 3 nuts, Ray Johnson, who was chief of radiation surveillance at the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1970’s and 1980’s aimed his Geiger counter at the butter to find that it registered 33% hotter in radioactivity than the natural level of the room.

Research regarding the safety of the nuts in regards to radiation is scarce.  However, in 1968 the Health Physics journal published a report on the nuts high radioactivity, stating: “it is to be expected that individuals who regularly eat Brazil nuts for many years will eventually build up elevated radium body burdens.”

Selenium - Cancer Fighter? : Several studies have shown a link between selenium deficiency and cancer. It is believed that selenium either acts as an antioxidant or improves the immune system.  For more info on the possible cancer fighting aspect of selenium click here  .

Brazil Nuts - A Selenium Super Food : Brazil nuts may contain as much as 544 micrograms of selenium per ounce. So consuming one ounce of Brazil nuts would provide you will 780% of your recommended dietary allowance.

Selenosis Risk : Too much selenium in the bloodstream can result in a condition called selenosis Symptoms of selenosis include gastrointestinal upsets, hair loss, white blotchy nails, garlic breath odor, fatigue, irritability, and mild nerve damage.  The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has set a tolerable upper intake level (UL) for selenium at 400 micrograms per day for adults to prevent the risk of developing selenosis.

Want to try Brazil nuts? I found these on amazon, and they look pretty tasty, plus they are not glowing in the picture:

Ultimate’s Roasted & Salted Extra Large Brazil Nuts - 1# Tin

Have you ever had Brazil nuts? If not, would you eat them knowing they are radioactive?


Washington Post Article | Wikipedia (brazil nuts) | Wikipedia (Selenium)Gov Fact Sheet on Selenium

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Jan 26, 2008

Would you eat them if it snowed?
Would you eat them if they glowed?

I do eat brazil nuts (and most others too).  Even knowing they have some radioactivity doesn’t bother me a bit, but thanks for the interesting news.  Next time they go out for the guests we can have an interesting conversation about it.


Feb 01, 2008

I’ve had Brazil nuts. They don’t thrill me very much. Too oily in my opinion. Will I eat them again now that I know they carry minute amounts of radium? Nope. I don’t eat them anyway.

Polly Haecker

May 31, 2008

This information about radioactive nuts has certainly been a well kept secret.  Perhaps because its our government’s
Secret Weapon. Bush has been picking them out of his candy/nut dish foryears and before he leaves office he is planning to drop them on Iran.

Outdoor Lady

Jun 22, 2008

“Here is an important tip: one unshelled Brazil nut (the kind you must crack yourself) averages 100 mcg of selenium, according to Cornell Professor Donald J. Lisk. On the other hand, an already shelled Brazil nut averages 12 to 25 mcg.”
“At the end of the study, both the Brazil nut and supplement groups had higher selenium, and higher activity in a powerful selenium-dependant antioxidant enzyme (glutathione peroxidase) than they had at the beginning.”
After reading the above and the 1968 study, I’m going to opt for the synthetic selenium.


Sep 01, 2008

There was a show in “House M.D.” season 4, episode 06 regarding this.


Nov 02, 2008

After reading the information above and from other sources..i will be going out to nut store and buying some shelled Brazil Nuts.

Taken in moderation most foods and nuts found in nature are better than any manmade crap including most man made medicines from the pharamcy.

I ll take natural selenium over synthetic selenium matter what stupid website says no..they just want to promote manmade hard to assimilate selenium in the body pills

And the radiation? thats a big BONUS I like getting more than i bargained for

Fulvic Acid

Apr 09, 2010

I have heard it for the first time though I am regularly using it in breakfast. But I believe that it want be a big problem for its users as It might hardly contains o.ooo1% of radioactive element and that can hardly affects human being.


Aug 18, 2010

I like the Brazil nuts which I prefer in breakfast. I heard this but I don’t think so that it may cause any problems.

Distracted Cook

Oct 19, 2010

Brazil nuts also have a very high concentration of choline, a brain food.


Aug 15, 2012

So Brazil nuts are mildly radioactive. So are Bananas. But both are still much healthier than burgers. It’s all about relative risk.
Smoking is much, much worse, since tobacco smoke is carcinogenic, poisonous, and radioactive!

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