An allergy is an exaggerated immune system response to a common substance, from nuts to pollen, to cucumbers. In fact, 10 to 30% of the population of industrialized countries is affected by allergies, which means the latter are fairly widespread. An allergy avocado is however quite rare!
Avocados (the fruits of the avocado tree) are mostly produced in Central America, which is also where they are most consumed. This creamy fruit is so delicious, just thinking of guacamole makes us salivate and pity those who are allergic to it! Some other fruits, such as kiwis and bananas, can also cause allergic reactions.
If you’re one of the unlucky few who are allergic to avocados, you have certainly experienced one of the following symptoms: systemic anaphylaxis, vomiting, hives, asthma, or rhinoconjunctivitis. An avocado allergy can cause mild to serious reactions and can be particularly harmful for some people predisposed to it.
Some signs of food allergies include skin rashes, itching, swelling, breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and low blood pressure. If you think you may be having an allergic reaction to a food product, seek medical advice for the proper diagnosis and treatment.
50% of people allergic to latex (to gloves and condoms, for example) also react to avocados!
There are many proteins in avocados that can cause an allergic reaction, but the most common one is known as Pru av 1. The latter is contained in the pulp of the fruit and is considered a major allergen. However, people who have an avocado allergy may be sensitive to other proteins, such as Pru av 2 and Pru av 3, and to other foods, such as fruits and nuts. Plus, the sensitivity to these proteins varies from one person to another, which is why it is important to consult your doctor to get a personal diagnosis and the corresponding treatments.
Another protein that causes reactivity is endochitinase 1, which is also present in latex allergies. Prs-a-1 peptides may also be responsible of such reactions. In fact, immunoglobulins E (antibodies) react with these proteins and create allergies.
Other than latex, people who are allergic to avocados often react to kiwis, bananas, and hazelnuts as well. So, be careful if you are allergic to these foods!
More research is however needed to state with certainty the origin of avocado allergies, especially since not everyone reacts to the same proteins found in this fruit…
The Quebec Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) published a guide to foods often classified as allergens as well as types of pollen allergies. A lot of the foods listed are fruits. For example, people allergic to grass pollen are often allergic to kiwis, melons, oranges, tomatoes, and watermelons as well. Interesting, isn’t it? But fruit lovers can rest assured: these allergies are pretty rare!
Avocado allergies are rare and only affect a small number of people. It is therefore not mandatory for Canada’s food industry to identify it as an allergen on its packaging. People with this allergy must pay attention to what they eat. Anyhow, if you can, enjoy plenty of guacamole for those who cannot!
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