Strawberry Allergy: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

How Strawberries Cause Allergy
At first glance, the sight, smell and taste of this succulent and nutrient-rich perennial fruit may seem unlikely to trigger allergic reactions. After all, strawberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The chemical makeup of strawberries, however, includes unique proteins that the human body might recognize as a harmful intruder, causing your immune system to react in a frenzy of allergic response. This form of allergy is unique to some individuals and only a marginal percentage of the population has been identified as having the tendency to exhibit such adverse reactions.

In Sweden, a study conducted in the University of Lund has successfully identified and associated the specific protein responsible for the strawberry allergic reactions in some people. The attractive red coloring in strawberries may be tempting, but the research has shown that the very protein that adds to the red color is the likely the culprit – a specially structured form of protein with stark resemblance to the molecular structure of a specific allergen found in birch pollen. It follows that those susceptible to allergies from exposure to this type of pollen are more likely to exhibit the same symptoms upon exposure to strawberries.

Common symptoms associated with allergies to strawberries may include skin rashes, watery eyes, swelling of the mucus membranes of the mouth and tongue, and itchiness. In severe cases, vomiting, diarrhea and even anaphylactic shock may be observed.

Tests to Identify Allergic Reaction
Fortunately, tests can be safely conducted to identify individuals with the propensity to exhibit allergic symptoms. A skin test conducted by an allergist involves applying a small amount of the strawberry protein to the skin with a small needle. After about 15 to 30 minutes, the specific area of the skin of an individual allergic to strawberries will most likely develop into a bump, which at most times becomes itchy. This adverse reaction is a manifestation that your body’s immune system has triggered an allergic response, which gives rise to the overproduction of histamine that in turn causes blood dilation. Just imagine this reaction in a large scale and the results can be very alarming indeed.

Another test which looks for an increase in the amount of immunoglobulin antibodies in your blood is an equally effective method. But the price tag of such types of test and the longer time it takes to obtain the results make the cheaper and faster skin test a more viable option.

Preventive Measures
Avoiding strawberries and processed foods with strawberries is by far the most effective method of avoiding an allergic reaction. However, some varieties such as white strawberries do not contain the dreaded protein found in red strawberries, which means eating them is actually safe. It’s the closest you’ll get to experiencing the health benefits of strawberries without the allergies.

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