Like other dark-colored fruits, pomegranates are packed with antioxidants and other good-for-you nutrients. But while they're normally a healthy choice for most people, some people are allergic to pomegranates and should avoid eating them.
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Here's what to know about pomegranate allergies, including their symptoms and which family of allergies they fall into.
Pomegranate Allergy Symptoms
Allergies to pomegranates are rare. In fact, researchers reported the first known case in August 1991 in the journal Allergy. That instance involved an 85-year-old woman whose tongue swelled up after eating the fruit.
Other possible symptoms of pomegranate allergy, according to a research letter in the January-February 2015 issue of Allergologia et Immunopathologia, are typical for allergic reactions to foods. They include:
- General discomfort
- Itchiness of the mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat
- Swelling under the skin
- Abdominal pain
- Throat swelling and/or difficulty breathing
- Anaphylactic shock
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), eating something you're allergic to may also cause nausea, cramping and diarrhea.
If you have shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue or throat, a weak and rapid pulse or dizziness after eating pomegranates, this may be a sign of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. Seek medical help immediately.
If you have a milder allergic reaction to pomegranates, you may still want to see your doctor, who can confirm the allergy through testing — typically, either a skin prick or blood test, per the NLM.
In the meantime, avoid any further contact with pomegranates (including seeds, extract and juice), and to ease symptoms, take an over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benadryl or Claritin.
If the symptoms involve a skin condition, try not to irritate the area by scratching or scrubbing, or with prolonged contact with soap and water. Apply skin lotion or ointment to maintain the moisture in the skin and wear loose-fitting clothing.
Pomegranate Allergy Family
Because pomegranate allergies are so rare (they're not among the nine major food allergens), there's not a lot of research on cross-reactivity. In other words, there's not a lot of evidence on what else you might be allergic to if you're allergic to pomegranates.
However, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, people with fruit allergies in general are often sensitive to pollen or latex. And some people may react to other fruits, including peach and tomato.
In the Allergologia et Immunopathologia paper mentioned earlier, the authors describe an 18-year-old patient who is allergic to pomegranates and is also found through skin prick tests to be sensitive to peaches, pears, apples, strawberries, cherries, almonds, peanuts, tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, black beans and soybean seeds as well as grass and mugwort pollens.
If you suspect you have a pomegranate allergy, see an allergist, who can run the tests necessary to confirm your allergy and also test for any other food or environmental sensitivities.
Is This an Emergency?
- Allergy: "Adverse Reaction to Pomegranate Ingestion"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Allergies"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Hives"
- Allergologia et Immunopathologia: "Pomegranate anaphylaxis due to cross-reactivity with Peach LTP"
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Food Allergy Research and Resource Program: "Allergenic Foods and Their Allergens: Fruits"