I was really surprised when I heard the hostess of a Taiwanese variety show "2分之一強" stating that her daughter had tree nut allergy because she could not eat sesame seeds. I am well aware of what tree nuts are and what it means to have tree nut allergy. My kids had gone through skin prick tests to determine what they are allergic to after some food allergic reaction. Each year, we spend over thousands of US dollars to purchase the required Epi-pens for our kids. It cost roughly US$600 for a twin pack of Epi-pens. Each year, we have to purchase 6 twin packs, 3 for each of my kids - one for the school, one for after school care and one at home for ourselves. So, a total of close to US$4,000 a year, just for the Epi-pens, which we have never used. Anyway, this is to say that I am not a stranger to tree nut allergy and what tree nuts are. We always look at the food label and ask before our kids taste any food to ensure that there are no tree nuts included.
That said, back to the show, we never consider seeds as tree nuts. Her daughter could be allergic to sesame seeds (seeds allergy 種子過敏) but not tree nuts (tree nut allergy 堅果過敏). To state that her daughter has tree nut allergy because she is allergic to sesame seeds is incorrect and misleading. Tree nuts include almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, filberts, hazelnuts, hickory nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. While seeds include chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, moringa seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, papaya seeds, hemp seeds, fenugreek seeds, cilantro or coriander seeds, apple seeds, marijuana seeds, and mustard seeds. Though our kids are allergic to tree nuts, they are not allergic to all tree nuts and definitely not to seeds. They cannot eat pecans and walnuts, but they have tried pistachios, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts without problem. I like walnuts a lot though. 😊 Some people have confused tree nut allergy with peanut allergy. They are not the same. Peanuts are legumes (豆科植物). Our kids can eat peanuts without any problem. So as pine nuts, which are considered as seeds. By the way, what are types of legumes? Well, legumes include alfalfa, clover, beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts, and tamarind.
Since we are on the subject of allergy, my husband has a different type of allergy, fruit allergy. Pollen food syndrome usually occurs in people who are already allergic to pollens and suffer from hay fever, which is the case with my husband. People, like my husband, have pollen food syndrome experience allergic symptoms when they eat certain fruits or vegetables. This is due to the similarities between the proteins found in pollen and those present in the fruits and vegetables. In the case with my husband, he is allergic to Birch pollen. He has been eating apples for years but a few years after he developed hay fever, he can no longer eat raw apples. There goes an apple a day keeping the doctor away. However, he can still eat them if cooked, such as apples in apple pie or apple sauce. Fruits that he can no longer eat now are apples, wax apples, cherries, jujubes, peaches, pears, plums, prunes and apricots. The list continues to grow. One time, he was offered a dried jackfruit snack and developed a allergic reaction right away.
My mom and dad also have food allergy. They are allergic to mangoes, a very uncommon allergy. 90% of food allergy is towards milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. The rare ones are allergies towards red meat, sesame seeds, avocados, marshmallow, corn, mangoes, dried fruits, and hot dogs. Luckily, I seem to be food-allergy-free. So far, I can eat any food without an issue.
So much for the allergy talk.
By the way, if you are interested, you can look up the type of tree nuts from WebMD, a very reliable source, with information provided by credible health professionals.
Written by Elisa English
On July 27th, 2019 in Minneapolis