Weight Loss, Allergies and Sesame

Picture of Common Food Allergens

When you're trying to lose weight, a food allergy can complicate matters. Allergic reactions can range from mild gastric distress to a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. Eight foods are responsible for approximately 90 percent of food allergies in the US: eggs, wheat, dairy products, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and soy. However, other foods can also trigger allergic reactions. One of the foods currently under scrutiny is sesame.

Sesame is a legume, like peanuts or green beans. In fact, sesame allergy and peanut allergy often go hand in hand, as people who are allergic to one may be allergic to the other as well. The small tan or black seeds may be sprinkled on baked goods, added to Chinese dishes or hummus or included in foods like granola bars. Sesame seeds are made into a spread called tahini; sesame oil is used in cooking and included in salad dressings and marinades.

Reading food labels is the best way to identify potential allergens (substances that can cause an allergic reaction). The US Food and Drug Administration requires that the “big eight” be listed, since allergies to those foods are so common. Sesame may be identified only as a vegetable oil or with a term like “natural flavors added.” It may also be listed under another name, like benniseed, gingilly oil, sesamolina, sim sim, tahini or sesamum indicum.

One way to avoid allergens like sesame when you're trying to lose weight is to prepare your own food from fresh, healthy ingredients. It's not always practical to carry that kind of food with you, however, so having something like a granola bar handy can help you ward off hunger pains and stick to your diet. The Metabolic Research Center can offer suggestions for avoiding allergens like sesame in your quest for weight loss.


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