Food allergies occur when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks food proteins, causing the body to release large amounts of histamines and other immune chemicals. The body releases these chemicals so suddenly that a person can have a life-threatening allergic reaction within moments of eating a trigger food. Up to 15 million Americans may have food allergies, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.
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Nuts are one of the most common food allergens. There are several families of nuts, so a person who is allergic to walnuts, for example, may or may not have a reaction to almonds. Some allergists advise their patients to be safe and avoid all tree nuts if they have a reaction to one type of nut. Some doctors also advise patients to avoid peanuts, in case a cross-reaction occurs.
Peanuts are not true nuts. They are members of the legume family, as are peas, beans and chickpeas. Peanut allergies can be life-threatening, even if the sensitive individual does not eat peanuts. Airborne peanut protein can be enough to trigger a reaction if the allergy is severe. Some people with peanut allergy can tolerate refined peanut oil, since all of the protein has been removed.
Chickpeas are the most widely consumed legume in the world, according to the CDC's Fruits and Veggies Matter. Chickpeas are common in Middle Eastern cuisine. They are a major source of protein for vegetarians and others who limit the amount of meat in their diets. Depending on the variety, chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, may be pale yellow, red, brown or black.
Should You Avoid Chickpeas?
Unless you have had an allergic reaction to chickpeas, you should not need to avoid them even if you have a peanut or tree nut allergy. Most people with peanut allergies tolerate other legumes without a reaction. Your allergist may perform a skin prick test that shows a positive reaction to other legumes as well as peanuts, but this does not mean you have an allergic reaction to chickpeas.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.