Here’s the reason you may have a peanut allergy

Medical researchers have long been at a loss trying to explain why peanut allergies in the U.S. and Europe are such a big problem. But now they think they’ve found a key to the puzzle.

A lab study at Oxford University in England shows that dry-roasting peanuts creates substances more likely to set off allergies than raw peanuts. The chemical reactions that take place in peanuts due to the high temperatures of dry roasting lead to compounds that interact with immune cells, priming the immune system to begin a severe immune response the next time you ingest peanuts.

The researchers argue that their test results may shed light on why so many people in the Western world suffer peanut allergies while people in East Asia seem largely unaffected. In Europe and the U.S., dry-roasting peanuts is a common practice while in Asia, these legumes are more often eaten fried, boiled or raw.

The various populations do not show these kinds of differences for other food allergies.

In the Oxford lab tests, lab animals exposed to dry-roasted peanuts had much more pronounced immune reactions to peanuts compared to the animals that had only been exposed to raw peanuts.

According to researcher Quentin Sattentau, “This is the first time, to our knowledge, that a potential trigger for peanut allergy has been directly shown.”

Adds researcher Amin Moghaddam: “Allergies in people are driven by multiple factors including family genetic background and exposure to environmental triggers. In the case of peanut allergy, we think we may have discovered an environmental trigger in the way that peanuts are processed by high-temperature roasting.”

Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.