Peanuts are not created equal. For example, roasted peanuts may cause more allergic reactions than the raw ones, based on the results of a recent UK study.
Peanuts are one of the most common triggers of allergies, especially among children, according to Food Allergy Research & Education. In the United States alone, more than 10 million suffer from food allergies, 90% of attacks caused by 8 food types, including peanuts.
While many reactions are mild, they can also lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening and sometimes fatal condition that demands quick emergency response.
Doctors understand why allergic reactions happen but not so much on how these food items can trigger such immune response. A team of Oxford University researchers, however, may provide a specific answer.
In an experiment conducted on mice, they discovered that individuals are more than likely to develop allergies by eating roasted instead of raw peanuts. To test, they applied the two kinds of purified proteins from raw and roasted directly into the skin or stomach of the animals. They then assessed the level of immune response in which reactions were stronger with peanuts processed through dry roasting.
Researchers believed that the cooking process, which introduces a very high temperature onto the peanuts, changes some of the protein structures of the peanuts that may be then trigger the way the immune system views the food.
Dry-roasting and the subsequent change of protein due to high temperature, which can be 170 degrees Celsius and higher, may also explain why Westerners register a higher rate of allergy to peanuts than Easterners, who prefer their peanuts to be eaten raw, boiled, or fried.
Nevertheless, the researchers want to stress that their study is still in its infancy and that more work has to be done to provide a more concrete conclusion. Thus, avoiding roasted peanuts altogether may be a premature idea. But they hope in due time, they can also develop means to avoid such chemical modification to finally reduce or eliminate peanut allergy.