Sesame seeds are not considered nuts, but certain proteins in sesame seeds can trigger allergy symptoms related to a nut allergy. When the body mistakes certain proteins that are similar to other proteins in foods, it is called cross-reactivity. The immune system confuses proteins that are similar in structure, which can cause an allergic reaction. The Food Allergy Initiative reports that sesame seeds are becoming a more common food allergen in the United States. Sesame seeds are the third most common food allergen in Israel and may be increasing the U.S. because of increased ethic foods.
A nut allergy can encompass any nuts that are grown on trees and peanuts, although peanuts are not considered nuts. Peanuts are legumes, but because of closely related proteins, they are commonly associated with nut allergies. If you are allergic to tree nuts or peanuts, you may develop asthma, hives, skin rashes, eczema, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, sinus congestion, runny nose, postnasal drip and dizziness after consuming nuts, according to Kids Health. Nut allergies are commonly associated with a severe allergic reaction — anaphylactic shock — which can lead to death if not properly treated.
Although sesame seeds are seeds and not nuts, the proteins in sesame seeds may resemble proteins in certain nuts, triggering an allergic reaction, according to Gomestic.com. Your immune system may identify the proteins in sesame seeds as the proteins in certain nuts and release immunoglobulin E antibodies. These antibodies attack the sesame seed as if it were a tree nut and cause the production of histamine in soft tissue.
Sesame Seed Allergy
You may have an allergy to sesame seeds if you develop common allergy symptoms. A sesame seed allergy is more common in other countries where people eat more sesame seeds, such as in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. Most of these countries require food manufactures to disclose the use of sesame seeds as a highly allergic ingredient. The United States does not require this disclosure and therefore you need to read all the ingredients in a food product before ingesting it, according to the Food Allergy Initiative.
To identify if you’re experiencing cross-reactivity between a nut allergy and sesame seeds or if you are allergic to sesame seeds exclusively, you will need to undergo allergy tests. Allergy tests use your blood, skin and the suspected allergen to determine which food proteins cause an allergic reaction.