How Many Brazil Nuts Are Radiation Poisoning?

Medically Reviewed on 12/16/2021
what happens if you eat too many brazil nuts?
Consuming two to three Brazil nuts per day is unlikely to pose a health risk; however, eating 50 or more nuts a day may cause radiation toxicity.

Brazil nuts have a high amount of natural radionuclide, making them 1000 times more radioactive than other foods. They consist of a significant amount of radium that contributes to their radioactivity.

Brazil nuts (especially the ones grown in Brazil) grow on trees that have deep roots, which reach into the soil to produce high amounts of natural radium, a source of radiation.

The radiation is measured in Sievert, and microSievert is used for hourly radiation exposure. MilliSievert (mSv) is used for annual exposure. Exposure to 100 mSv of radiation a year can increase cancer risk in people.

  • If the annual consumption of Brazil nuts amounts to 52 ounces per year (one or two nuts of four grams each), the radiation exposure reaches up to 0.27 mSv.
  • This value does not pose a health risk to the person consuming it, which means eating two to three nuts a day poses no health hazard.
  • However, eating about 50 nuts a day may cause toxicity.

Furthermore, consuming too many Brazil nuts can lead to selenium poisoning over time, resulting in the following symptoms:

What are Brazil nuts?

Brazil nuts are acquired from the Bertholletia excelsa tree grown widely in the Amazon forests. The tree produces comparatively large hard-shelled fruits, resembling coconuts, comprising 10 to 24 edible seeds.

Table 1. Different nuts and their content of healthy fats (Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference)
Food (one ounce) Calories Total fat (grams) Saturated fat (grams) Monounsaturates (grams) Polyunsaturates (grams) Omega-3s (mg)
Almonds 169 15 1 10 4 0
Brazil nuts 185 19 4 7 6 5
Cashews 155 12 2 7 2 17
Chia seeds 137 9 1 1 7 4,915
Flaxseeds 150 12 1 2 8 6,388
Hazelnuts 181 18 1 13 2 17
Peanuts 164 14 2 7 4 1
Pine nuts 190 19 1 5 10 32
Pistachios 157 13 2 7 4 72
Pumpkin seeds 153 13 3 4 6 51
Sesame seeds 160 14 2 5 6 105
Sunflower seeds 163 14 2 3 9 19
Walnuts 185 18 2 3 13 2,565
Table 2. The nutritional component of one ounce of Brazil nuts
Nutrients Calories Protein (grams) Fat (grams) Carbohydrates (grams) Fiber (grams) Sugar (grams)
Brazil nuts (one ounce) 186 4 19 3 2 1

Other nutrients in Brazil nuts include:

  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin E
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorous
  • Zinc

6 health benefits of having Brazil nuts

People consuming one to two Brazil nuts a day (standard recommended daily intake) can experience the following health benefits:

  1. Maintains healthy thyroid function
  2. Reduces the risk of heart disease
  3. Improves blood sugar levels in people with diabetes
  4. Lowers inflammation to reduce the risk of various diseases
  5. Maintains bone health
  6. Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease

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Medically Reviewed on 12/16/2021
References
Image Source: iStock Images

WebMD. Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-brazil-nuts#1

National Institutes of Health. Selenium. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-Consumer/

Harvard Health Publishing. Why nutritionists are crazy about nuts. https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/why-nutritionists-are-crazy-about-nuts

Armelin MJA. Activity levels of gamma-emitters in Brazil nuts. Braz J Radiat Sci. 2016; 4(1). https://www.bjrs.org.br/revista/index.php/REVISTA/article/view/200