Photo: Gabriel Macado (Flickr)
Peanuts are one of the world’s most nutritious foods.
Peanuts contain pound for pound more protein, vitamins, and minerals than beef liver and more fat than heavy cream. For approximately .5% of Americans, however, peanuts are not so beneficial; in fact, they’re potentially deadly.
Yummy But Deadly
Between 1 and 2% of American adults suffer from food allergies. A food allergy occurs when particular proteins in certain foods trigger an immune system response, resulting in various symptoms. Many foods can cause allergic reactions ranging from mild to severe, but peanuts trigger notoriously fierce allergic responses.
People allergic to peanuts can experience hives, dizziness, a rapid heartbeat, and in the worst cases, death. Although only a small percentage of people have peanut allergies, they account for 50% of all food related deaths.
It may seem implausible that so much harm can result from such a seemingly innocent, useful food. However, it’s the peanut’s usefulness that makes it so dangerous. Peanuts and peanut products are used in a wide variety of packaged foods, but are not always listed as an ingredient.
Since it’s possible for even the slightest trace of peanut protein to trigger an allergic reaction, these hidden ingredients can cause considerable harm. In some cases, even kissing a person who’s just eaten a “peanuty” food can be dangerous.
If you have a peanut allergy never assume that foods are made without peanuts. Call the manufacturer and find out. Also, before you move in for a kiss, make sure that he or she is peanut free.