Friday, April 24, 2009

Fair and balanced, like they say on Fox News

My story this week on the growing popularity of almond butter drew the attention of the National Peanut Board, whose communications coordinator, Lindsay Spencer, e-mailed:

Dear Tim Hearden,

I am writing in response to your article I read on Capital Press online entitled “Almonds replace peanuts for better butter.” In the article you mention almond butter is an alternative to peanut butter for those with a peanut allergy. With this statement, I am concerned that you may not have the most current information showing significant cross-reactivity with peanuts and tree nuts.

Most immunologists recommend people with a peanut allergy to also avoid tree nuts because of the possible cross-reactivity. In two different studies peanut-allergy patients showed positive reactions to tree nuts. In Moneret-Vautrin’s study 50% showed reactive symptoms to almonds during an allergen skin test. Similarly, in Bock and Atkins’ study 63% showed reactive symptoms to one or more various tree nuts during an allergen skin test. Therefore, offering almonds as a solution to peanut allergy patients isnot be a solution and could possibly endanger those with multiple food allergies. There has also been debate over whether seeds (like sunflower seeds) should be avoided as well due to the potential cross-reactivity.

In fact, tree nuts are just a likely as peanuts to cause a fatal food allergic reaction and patients with tree nut allergy are more likely to experience severe pharyngeal edema (throat swelling) than those with a peanut allergy.

Another point I would like to mention is peanut butter has many nutritional values as well including eight grams of protein and is an excellent source of niacin and manganese and is a good source of vitamin E, magnesium and phosphorus.

America’s peanut farmers care deeply about peanut allergies. Since 2001, the National Peanut Board has invested more than $6 million in food allergy research. The National Peanut Board knows that even if one person gets sick resulting from peanut allergy its one too many. Farmers want to be part of the solution, not the problem.

I certainly have nothing against the peanut farmers. I was an avid peanut butter eater for years, enjoying it on toast, crackers, etc. But when my wife developed a severe allergy to peanuts, we started eating almond butter. We really enjoy the taste, and she hasn't had any hint of a reaction from it. I suppose it may happen, but it hasn't yet.

Obviously a food allergy isn't anybody's fault. It's just how a body's metabolism reacts to certain inputs, or it could be how some medications interact with certain foods. I'm just glad when there are alternatives.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm allergic to peanuts and also walnuts. I guess I'm a cross-reactor.

I still buy peanut butter though, once a year. I buy peanut butter cups for Halloween so I won't eat them!

And my substitute is sunflower butter. I love that, actually.

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