You will find sesame seeds everywhere from your oils to sushi to burgers. If you love them, good for you. But turns out that sesame seeds have the potential to cause allergies. If you are prone to food allergies, you must be already steering clear of common allergens like peanut, milk, shellfish, egg, soy, and wheat. But if you suddenly spot something eerie happening in your body (even after keeping the allergens out of sight), you might just want to think twice before consuming anything with sesame.
Cross-reactivity Causes Allergies
While sesame seeds are not considered nuts, there are certain proteins in sesame seeds that can trigger allergy symptoms related to a nut allergy. When the body mistakes certain proteins that are similar to other proteins in foods, it is called cross-reactivity. The immune system confuses proteins that are similar in structure, which, in turn, can cause an allergic reaction. Our immune system may identify the proteins in sesame seeds as the proteins in certain nuts and release immunoglobulin E antibodies. These antibodies attack the sesame seed as if it were a tree nut and cause the production of histamine in soft tissue.
Symptoms Different From Nut Allergies
Consuming sesame seeds will not give you those common gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting. You might instead notice red, swollen outbreaks on your skin which typically look like hives. Sesame can also cause anaphylaxis which is a serious life-threatening allergic reaction. Here are the signs and symptoms of peanut allergy you should know of.
Hidden Foods Containing Sesame
It can be very difficult to spot sesame seeds as they are often hidden in small quantities. Many foods contain sesame seeds as garnish. While small amounts of sesame will not cause any significant discomfort, foods with large amounts of the allergen like tahini (with hundreds of sesame seeds in a single tablespoon) can have serious consequences. Some also add sesame seeds in hummus. If you are purchasing any product from the superstore, the best idea is to check for sesame on the label. However, many manufacturers consider sesame as a natural spice or flavour, and hence sometimes, it may not be listed on the label separately. Here's how to find if you are intolerant to seafood.
Testing Sesame Allergy
Currently, there are no at-home tests that can be used to test IGE-medicated food allergies like sesame. However, if you can eat sesame in full serving without exhibiting any symptoms, you can safely eat it whenever you want. But if you are unsure and think that you may have a reaction, get in touch with your doctor for the perfect diagnosis.
That said, the best way to identify if you are experiencing cross-reactivity between a nut allergy and sesame seeds or if you are allergic to sesame seeds exclusively, is to undergo a couple of allergy tests. These tests use your blood, skin and the suspected allergen to determine which food proteins are causing an allergic reaction.