Since avocado is classified as a fruit and not a tree nut, you should be able to eat avocados even if you have a nut allergy.
However, some studies have shown that avocados have similar proteins as chestnuts. So if you’re allergic to chestnuts, you may have to avoid avocados.
What causes an avocado allergy?
There are two main causes and types of avocado allergies:
- Oral allergy (birch pollen): You may be allergic to avocados if you have an oral allergy (where symptoms are in your mouth and throat) to birch pollen. Fruits and vegetables that grow near pollen can cause an allergic reaction if you are sensitive to pollen.
- Latex allergy: If you have a latex allergy, you may also have an avocado allergy. People with latex allergies often have a condition called latex-fruit syndrome, meaning they are allergic to many fruits, including avocado, bananas, kiwis and melons. Approximately 35-50% of people who are allergic to latex show sensitivity to some plant-derived foods.
What are signs and symptoms of an avocado allergy?
Symptoms of an oral allergy to avocados include:
- Itching in the mouth and throat
- Scratchy throat
- Swelling in and around the mouth and throat
Symptoms of a latex-avocado allergy include:
- Swelling of the lips
- Itching in the eyes
- Stomach discomfort
- Hives (urticaria) or itchy, raised welts on the skin that are usually red, pink or flesh-colored and may sting or hurt
- Anaphylactic shock is a severe allergic reaction that is usually rare but can be life-threatening, causing symptoms such as:
How is an avocado allergy diagnosed?
While there is no specific commercial test to diagnose an avocado allergy, your doctor may be able to use other methods such as a food challenge. During a food challenge, your doctor may have you eat small amounts of avocado to see if you have a reaction. You should never try to do this at home. You want a doctor there in case you have a severe reaction.
Your doctor may also recommend that you take allergy tests for pollen and latex. This is done through a skin prick.
How is an avocado allergy treated?
Treatment options for avocado allergy include:
- Mild cases can be treated with over-the counter-antihistamines. Creams or ointments containing cortisone can help with skin-related symptoms, such as itching and hives. Your doctor may prescribe a higher steroid dose if needed.
- Severe cases require emergency medical attention. An epinephrine auto-injector may be necessary to treat anaphylaxis. Your doctor can provide training so you can self-administer the medication.
- Immunotherapy, also called allergy shots, can treat pollen-related avocado allergies by desensitizing you to pollen and other environmental allergies. It takes time to see changes in symptoms but may be a long-term solution for some.
Of course, avoiding avocado whenever possible is important. Keep in mind that it may often be a hidden ingredient in some recipes, especially vegan and paleo dishes. Same goes for avocado oil or avocado butter. So when dining out, make sure to inform your server about your allergy.
Avocado oil and butter may also be present in topical skin and hair products. While a reaction to avocado used in cosmetics is rare, you should try to avoid them just in case you do have an allergic reaction.
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Abrams EM, Becker AB, Gerstner TV. Anaphylaxis Related To Avocado Ingestion: A Case and Review. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2011;7(1):12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3127795/
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Why Does Fruit Make My Throat Swell and Itch? https://acaai.org/resources/connect/ask-allergist/why-does-fruit-make-my-throat-swell-and-itch
Rodder S. An Avocado a Day Is Good for Your Heart Health. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. January 15, 2021. https://utswmed.org/medblog/avocado-a-day/
WebMD. Health Benefits of Avocados. https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-avocados-health-benefits
Cedars-Sinai. In Case You Need a Reason to Eat More Avocado. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/healthy-and-delicious-avocado.html
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