Do You Have a Peanut Allergy?
Whether one reacts to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, eggs, soy or shellfish, food allergies can pose difficult challenges when it comes to making safe choices in restaurants and supermarkets. An allergist at Allergy and Clinical Allergy Center, based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will be able to help you make the best decisions about your dietary needs. Individuals who suffer from peanut allergies must seek out safe, alternative foods and cooking ingredients to incorporate into their diets. One particular culinary oil that is making an appearance in some sectors of the gourmet world is argan oil. Learn about argan oil, and then consult with one of our qualified experts so that you can make an informed, healthy decision.
What Is Argan Oil?
Argan oil is derived from the kernels found within the argan nut. This nut is the center of a fruit that grows on the argnania spinosa, a desert evergreen tree in the southwestern region of Morocco. Argan oil is cold pressed, which maximizes the likelihood for an allergic reaction when consumed by those with nut allergies. When other oils undergo a heating or refining process, some of the protein allergens may break down. Many commercial peanut oils are so highly refined that some patients with peanut allergies tolerate them. Despite this result, however, all peanut and tree nut oils should be considered potentially dangerous until an allergist at Allergy and Clinical Allergy Center deems otherwise.
Know Your Nuts
An argan nut is a tree nut. Other tree nuts include almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios and pine nuts. These nuts are all produced above ground on the branches of trees. Conversely, peanuts grow underground, which does not qualify them as a tree nut. Instead, peanuts are considered legumes. While it may seem logical to assume that someone with a peanut allergy should be safe when consuming tree nuts, this is not always true. Between 25 and 40 percent of individuals with peanut allergies also suffer from allergies to tree nuts. An allergist at Allergy and Clinical Allergy Center will be able to perform safe and simple tests to determine if your allergy to peanuts extends to include tree nuts as well. If your allergy is limited to peanuts alone, however, your allergist may recommend avoidance of all nut products, including argan oil, nonetheless.
Cross Contamination: The Peril of Food Processing Plants
The primary reason that allergists advise peanut allergy patients to avoid all nut products is due to the incidence of cross contamination in food processing plants. In some of these facilities, peanuts and tree nuts are processed with the same equipment. Even the precautionary cleaning procedures that are taken in between products may not always eliminate trace amounts of the allergen from the machinery.
Argan Allergies Inside and Out
An allergist may advise that patients with food allergies to peanuts avoid the use of health and beauty products, such as shampoos, that contain argan oil. In addition to the severe symptoms of consumption food allergy, argan oil can also incite topical contact dermatitis.
Extra-virgin olive oil is the safest choice for individuals with peanut allergies when is comes to cooking oils. Opt for a brand name that only produces olive oil in order to avoid the aforementioned cross contamination scenario. Canola oil is another safe alternative, but be sure that the company in question does not manufacture other oils in their production plants. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer to inquire what types of cooking oils they produce. Avoid argan oil and other tree nut oils until consulting with an allergist at the Allergy and Clinical Allergy Center.
Whether you suffer from a peanut allergy or you are the caregiver for a peanut allergy patient, understanding ingredients and their sources and learning to decipher food labels are imperative in choosing the safest nutritional options to avoid the dangers of anaphylaxis.