Bananas are a nutritious fruit, providing significant amounts of fiber, potassium, manganese and vitamins B-6 and C. If you suffer from allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, they could make your symptoms worse, however. You may want to avoid bananas at least during allergy season to help minimize your symptoms.
Oral Allergy Syndrome
If your throat or mouth becomes itchy after eating certain fruits or vegetables, such as bananas, you could suffer from oral allergy syndrome, also called fruit-pollen allergy syndrome. These symptoms occur because bananas have similar proteins to those found in some of the substances that cause hay fever, which confuses your immune system and brings on the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Symptoms typically last from 10 to 30 minutes after eating the food in question.
Allergens That Could Cause Cross Reactivity
If you're allergic to ragweed or latex, eating bananas could cause a cross-reaction, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. If bananas bother you because of an allergy to ragweed, then honeydew, watermelon, echinacea, chamomile tea, sunflower seeds, cucumber, zucchini and cantaloupe may also cause a reaction. Those with latex allergies may react to papaya, avocados, kiwi and chestnuts as well.
Cooked Vs. Raw
Cooked or processed versions of foods won't trigger oral allergy syndrome symptoms, so you should be fine eating foods containing baked or microwaved banana. This means you don't have to give up banana bread or other baked goods containing bananas. You should still check with your doctor, however, before continuing to eat bananas just to make sure you aren't truly allergic to the food and it's just a case of oral allergy syndrome.
Oral Allergy Syndrome Vs. Food Allergies
True food allergies cause a reaction throughout the whole body, while oral allergy syndrome typically causes reactions that only affect the mouth and lips. Food allergies also tend to lead to more severe reactions, while oral allergy syndrome reactions aren't usually dangerous. In some cases, however, an oral allergy syndrome reaction can turn into a food allergy over time or cause a life-threatening reaction in a person with severe allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.