Dry-roasted peanuts are more likely to cause allergic reactions than raw ones, a new study says.

Researchers at Oxford University found that the high temperatures used to dry-roast peanuts can trigger certain chemical changes in peanuts that are recognized by the human body and could create a reaction.

This finding, the researchers believe, could explain the variation in peanut allergies in the western world versus places like East Asia, where roasting is uncommon.

Lead researcher Professor Quentin Sattentau says that the research is at an early stage, so avoiding roasted peanuts may not be a “cure,” but progress is moving forward with this avenue of research.

“We think we have identified the chemical modifications involved in triggering an allergic response to peanuts and are currently exploring methods that are food industry-friendly to eliminate these groups,” Sattentau said in a press release.

The study involved mice bred to have peanut allergies. Purified proteins from roasted and raw peanuts were given to the mice in controlled groups and in various ways (ingestion, injection and topically). A control group of non-allergic mice were also given the proteins. Mice exposed to dry-roasted peanuts showed a higher immune response than did those that were exposed to raw peanuts.

The finding is documented in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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