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Allergy to Red – Red Fruits Can Cause Allergies: Fact or Myth?


There is an opinion that red fruits and vegetables are more allergenic than, say, yellow, green or white ones.

The reason for this assumption, which is widespread mainly in the territory of the former CIS, may lie in the fact that red and other vegetables and fruits of bright colors can provoke histamine intolerance . The latter is called the mediator of allergy. It is a common culprit in intolerance reactions to certain foods. The appearance of a small rash or redness of the cheeks in children can also be the work of histamine. But this reaction is not considered allergic.

In addition to histamine, red fruits and vegetables contain the carotenoid lycopene. Actually, he gives them a red color.

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant. It can reduce inflammation, which is often found in atherosclerosis and cancer. But for better absorption, products containing lycopene are recommended to be subjected to heat treatment.

This natural red pigment is found mainly in tomatoes, but also in pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, guava and other fruits. But it is not present in cherries and strawberries.

It is known that lycopene can lower blood pressure and increase the risk of bleeding when consumed in foods rich in lycopene along with anticoagulants.

There is little data on whether lycopene can cause allergies. According to some, it is a rare cause of allergic reactions or intolerance reactions.

At the same time, according to other sources, this substance is not found in the list of main allergens, in the same tomatoes, which contain more lycopene.


The main allergens of many red fruits and vegetables – tomatoes, peppers, apples, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, sweet cherries – are similar to the allergens present in the pollen of trees and grasses.

For example, according to studies, 39.2% of people with hay fever to cereal pollen also suffer from an allergy to tomatoes. By the way, about 3% of people in the world suffer from the latter on average (in Northern Europe – an average of 1.5%). Also, a reaction to tomatoes occurs in about 2.2-4.3% of people with a latex allergy.

One type of pollen that contains allergens similar to those found in most red fruits and vegetables is birch pollen. Mostly, we are talking about Bet v 1 and Bet v 2 allergens.

Therefore, people with sensitivity to the pollen of this tree may also experience allergic reactions when eating certain berries, vegetables and fruits.

For example, about 30% of people who are allergic to birch pollen also report allergic reactions to strawberries.

As a rule, such reactions are characterized by relatively mild manifestation of symptoms. This condition is called oral allergy syndrome. Reactions with it, as a rule, are limited to the mouth, tongue, throat. Sometimes there may be swelling of the lips. This is because most people are sensitive to the main birch allergen , Bet v 1. This is an unstable protein that loses its properties under the influence of digestive processes.

In addition, heat treatment, or at least peeling, should help alleviate the symptoms in this case.

Apples, strawberries, plums and tomatoes are the most common factors that tend to lead to oral allergy syndrome.

But with sensitivity to birch profilin Bet v 2, proteins similar to which are found in the same tomatoes and apples, reactions can be severe. With such an allergy, swelling of the throat, urticaria and rhinitis can occur. In rare cases, a systemic reaction in the form of anaphylaxis may occur.

And finally, you need to understand that each of the red vegetables or fruits contains its own allergens. Some of them may also be similar to each other. For example, a high probability of cross-reactions between bell pepper profilins and tomato fruits was recorded. They are 91% identical. Sola 1 1 from tomato also shows a high structural similarity to other plant profilins such as Pru av 4 cherries, Ana with 1 pineapple, Mus xp 1 banana, Dau c 4 carrots and with the already mentioned Bet v 2 birches.


Symptoms of an allergy to vegetables and fruits usually appear after a period of several minutes to two hours after eating them.

Signs of a food allergy are:

·      skin rash,

swelling of the throat, lips;

·      nausea, vomiting;


In rare cases, as already noted, a severe and life-threatening condition can occur – anaphylactic shock , which can lead to respiratory and cardiac arrest. Signs of anaphylaxis are heart palpitations, breathing problems, hives, swelling, low blood pressure, fainting.

For any manifestations of allergies, it is better to consult a specialist who must determine the exact cause of the reaction and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

The best way to prevent unwanted allergic reactions is to avoid eating a particular vegetable or fruit that causes sensitivity. Especially in raw, unprocessed form.

If birch pollen is the culprit, allergen-specific immunotherapy may be an option. This technique helps to relieve the symptoms of hay fever – sensitivity to pollen – as well as to similar allergens in some vegetables and fruits. Such treatment, although long-term, however, is very effective.

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