Adverse Reactions to Red Raspberry

Red raspberries are delicious sources of high levels of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. Unfortunately, certain individuals suffer allergic reactions to red raspberries, leading to several unpleasant and sometimes dangerous symptoms. Scientists are beginning to understand the mechanisms responsible for allergies to red raspberries and other related fruits. If you suspect you are allergic to red raspberries, you might want to ask your doctor for an allergy test.

Punnet of raspberries by spoon, close-up
Red raspberries may cause allergic reactions. (Image: Martin Poole/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Symptoms

The symptoms of an allergic reaction to red raspberries are similar to the symptoms of allergic reactions to other foods. The first symptom is often a tingling or itching sensation in the mouth, followed by itching of the skin and possibly hives or eczema. The face, lips, throat and tongue may begin to swell, leading to difficultly breathing, wheezing or congestion. In certain individuals, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea may develop. Lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting may also occur.

Mechanism

Most allergic reactions occur when your immune system mistakenly recognizes a particular food protein, known as an allergen. The immune system thinks the allergen is a dangerous infection and attacks the allergen by producing a particular type of antibodies belonging to the class of immunoglobulin E, or IgE, antibodies. The IgE antibodies that specifically recognize an allergen remain in your body for a long time, and any time you eat food containing that allergen again, the IgE antibodies recognize it and trigger an immune response.

Allergens in Red Raspberries

Raspberries belong to the Rosaceae family of fruits, along with apples, cherries, strawberries and peaches. All of these fruits contain related proteins that can trigger IgE antibody reactions in susceptible individuals, according to a paper published in the December 2008 issue of the journal "Molecular Nutrition & Food Research." Two proteins were identified in raspberries, known as Rub i 1 and Rub i 3, which are very similar to proteins identified in apples that are known to cause allergies.

Other Fruit Allergies

Because all fruits in the Rosaceae family contain related proteins that can be recognized by IgE antibodies, once you develop an allergic reaction to one type of fruit, you may become allergic to the others in that family. In other words, if your body develops IgE antibodies to apple proteins, those antibodies might stay in your system and cause reactions to similar proteins in cherries, raspberries, peaches and other similar fruits.

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