Is Eight Really Enough?

Sesame Oil and Seeds

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, more than 50 million people in the U.S. have an allergy of some kind. Your body's immune system is designed to keep you healthy by fighting off dangers to your health, such as infections. But, when your system overreacts to a food (or a substance in a food), symptoms can range from mild to severe. Unfortunately for sufferers, just because a reaction might have been mild one time does not mean that more severe symptoms won't occur the next time a protective response is triggered.

Of the one hundred and sixty foods that have caused allergic reactions, eight foods account for 90% of the food allergies reported in the United States. The culprits include dairy products, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy. However, in a recent article in Allergy & Asthma Today, the question as to whether eight is enough was asked in regards to food allergies to sesame. With sesame allergies growing at the fastest rate of all food allergies, many allergists have suggested that sesame be added to the list as number nine.

Sesame is an ingredient that chefs often include in vegetarian dishes as an additional source of protein. It is commonly found in Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. But, sesame is also a popular ingredient in salad dressings, granola bars, hummus, marinades and atop baked goods. It is often referred to as the "cousin allergy to peanuts" because many of the individuals who are allergic to sesame are also allergic to peanuts. Like other nut allergies, a reaction to food products that contain sesame can be life threatening due to the difficulty in breathing caused by swelling in the throat. Anyone with severe sesame allergies should carry an epinephrine injector to manage the onset of anaphylaxis.

Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only requires food manufacturers to list the inclusions of the Top 8 food allergens, sesame can easily be missed. However, sesame may be included in the ingredients list but might be called something else, such as benniseed, gingelly oil, sesamolina, simsim, tahini, sesamum indicum, or simply included in a vegetable oil or seasoning packet. To learn more about identifying food allergies and finding recipes that do not include sesame products, visit the Metabolic Research Center today. 


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