Healthy eating has become a trend nowadays. Eating more fresh fruits is desired by most who are concerned about their lifestyle, wellbeing, and overall health. However, this may not be a healthy option for those with allergies to some fruits.
Which fruits cause allergic reactions? How do you know if you have a fruit allergy?
Apricots, bananas, cherries, kiwis,melons, papayas, peaches, pineapples, plums, and strawberries are certain fruits that are known to cause allergies.
The most common symptom is oral allergy syndrome, characterized by allergic reactions in the mouth and throat. There can be tingling, itching, and swelling in the mouth, lips, tongue, throat, and palate. Watery itchy eyes, a runny nose and sneezing can accompany the reactions. Those with hay fever are most susceptible, especially spring hay fever due to birch pollen, and summer hay fever due to ragweed pollen. They can develop allergic reactions when they eat cross-reactive fruits. Kiwis, strawberries, apples, pears, cherries, plums, peaches, nectarines, papaya, and pineapples are usual culprits.
Other symptoms include pruritis (itching), urticaria (hives), contact dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, and asthma. Handling of fresh fruits like peeling or touching the juice to the lips may cause rashes, itching or swelling where the juice comes in contact with the skin, sneezing, a runny nose, and watery eyes. Strawberries and plums can trigger allergic rashes. Apples and oranges trigger asthma.
More severe symptoms include vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, and on rare occasions, life threatening anaphylactic reactions such as swelling of the throat, wheezing, and trouble breathing. Bananas can sometimes cause anaphylaxis.
What are the best ways to manage a fruit allergy?
Usually, allergic reactions occur when the fruits are raw. Once the fruits are cooked, canned, microwaved, processed, baked, or heated in any way, the allergic effects are reduced. So even if someone is allergic to fresh apples, they will be able to tolerate eating apple sauce, apple jelly, apple juice, apple pie, and dried apples.
Also, note that the most allergenic part of the fruit is the skin, however, not due to the pesticides, chemicals, or wax on its surface. So those who are allergic to fruits such as peaches can eat the flesh without trouble, as long as the skin is peeled away.
The ripeness of the fruit can also determine how allergenic it can get. Freshly picked apples, or unripe apples, may cause milder allergic reactions versus apples that are very ripe, or those that have been stored for weeks after picking.
See if peeling the fruit, or eating partially ripe fruits picked directly from the tree, will result in milder allergies. If the reactions are the same as before, stop eating that certain fruit.
So the best thing that can be done is simply to avoid the fruits that give you allergies, and as long as this is done, medical treatment will not be necessary. But once allergic reactions occur, antihistamine can be taken to relieve symptoms. For severe cases, immunotherapy may be recommended.
To supplement the nutritional aspects of your diet, substitute with other fruits such as grapes, currants, gooseberries, guava, mango, figs, avocado, persimmon, and pomegranates. Consult your general practitioner or any healthcare provider to suggest other healthy alternatives.
Kiwi – Healthy or Dangerous?
I’ve noticed over the years one food that makes my mouth itch – kiwi. This one makes my husband’s mouth itch, too, but so do other fruits like peaches and plums. Whereas we’ve always contributed it to oral allergy syndrome, especially with him because of seasonal allergies, research shows that kiwis are pretty high allergy inducing foods.
In fact, in an article on Reuters, it is stated that the kiwi is now one of the top 10 sources of food allergies in Sweden, France and Finland. I remember back when kiwis first became popular in the United States; they were very exotic. Now we are all familiar with the green fruit with the black seeds and fuzzy brown skin, the one that makes our mouths itch. But research shows that it is the green kiwi, known as the Hayward kiwi, that causes the allergic symptoms and reactions.
Karin Hoffmann-Sommergruber at the Medical University of Vienna led the study reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The researchers found that the “gold” varieties tend to be less allergenic than the more common green one. The protein in the fruit that causes the allergic reaction, similar to that found in nuts, is 50 times higher in the Hayward green kiwi than in the lighter, golden varieties.
As with many studies, it is just the beginning. I have begun to see different varieties of kiwi at the markets, including golden kiwi and baby kiwi. Some other varieties won’t be available commercially for 10 to 20 years.
As kiwi has many health benefits, it is a good choice of snack or to include in a fruit salad, unless of course, you are allergic. With its high amounts of vitamins, flavonoids and minerals, it is great for fighting off colds and staying healthy. It is high in potassium, like cucumbers and bananas which is good to have after exercising or losing water through sweating. Antioxidants have been shown to be helpful in fighting certain kinds of cancer. A kiwi has more vitamin C than an equivalent amount of oranges!
This being said, the benefits aren’t worth it if dangerous allergic reactions occur when eaten. Because it is being shown that the reaction is actually due to a food allergy rather than oral allergy syndrome, it may be wise for those (like me) to stay away from kiwi, at least the common green ones. I may try to seek those golden ones out next time I am grocery shopping…