Peanuts are a legume grown mainly for the edible seeds also known as groundnuts, goober in the USA and monkey nut in UK.
Having a peanut allergy is relatively common, with around 2% of children in the UK affected by the allergy. Of these children, only 1 in 5 outgrow the allergy meaning it is important to learn how to recognise and manage symptoms.
Peanut allergies are known to generate some of the most severe reactions. Even breathing in the same air as someone who has eaten peanuts, or touching the nuts, can trigger symptoms. Luckily, high press coverage and raised awareness of this severe allergy is making it easier for people with this allergy to adapt their life accordingly.
Peanut Allergy Symptoms
As discussed, symptoms of a peanut allergy can be severe and in some rare cases life-threatening.
Symptoms of peanut allergy include:
- Rash or hives.
- Abdominal cramps.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Narrowing of the throat.
- Swelling of the face or lips.
It is important to act fast if someone is reacting badly to peanuts by taking them to the nearest emergency department, calling 999, or using an adrenaline auto-injector if they have one. For more information about what to do if someone is experiencing anaphylaxis you can visit the NHS website.
Peanut Intolerance or Sensitivity
Peanut sensitivity or intolerance occurs when the body finds it difficult to digest peanuts which generates symptoms. Although these symptoms are less severe than a peanut allergy, this condition can still be uncomfortable for people and may cause embarrassment during everyday life.
Peanut Intolerance Symptoms
Digestive reactions to peanuts can result in the following symptoms:
It is important to know the differences between intolerances and allergies, since the two will be responded to differently.
How Do I Know if I Have a Peanut Allergy or Intolerance?
If you are unsure whether you have an allergy or intolerance to peanuts, one easy way to find out is with an allergy and intolerance test. You can order your test to complete at home with a simple, pain-free blood spot sample. 78 common trigger items are tested and you will receive a comprehensive report outlining which items you have a response to.
Peanut Allergy Treatment
For those suffering with a peanut allergy, it is recommended to remove this food completely from your diet to prevent a reaction reoccurring. On the other hand, those with a peanut intolerance can complete an elimination diet by removing these nuts from their diet for four to six weeks then slowly reintroducing them.
Foods containing peanuts
Avoiding peanuts can be difficult due to their prominent use in processed foods. The reading of product ingredients and allergy warnings on packaging is essential to avoid this trigger item.
Foods that could potentially contain peanuts (and other nuts too) include:
- Baked goods such as cookies.
- Cereals / cereal bars.
- Ice cream (including cross-contamination at parlours).
- Chocolate / sweets.
- African and Asian dishes (peanuts often used in sauces).
- Veggie burgers.
It is advised that if you are severely allergic to peanuts, you should check the ingredient list on most items in the supermarket to ensure you are not putting yourself in danger of an allergic reaction.
If you find you are experiencing symptoms after eating peanuts, it is sensible to be wary when eating different kinds of nuts too.
Other Names For Peanuts
Sufferers of peanut allergies should be aware of the following names peanuts can be referred to:
- Arachis hypogaea.
- Beer nuts.
- Chinese nuts.
- Goober nut/pea.
- Monkey nuts.
Alternatives to Peanuts
Peanuts are packed with essential nutrients and calories. They are a good source of B vitamins, vitamin E, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. They also contain a high level of fibre and protein.
Considering people with peanut allergies need to remove these nuts from their diet, it is beneficial to consume alternatives. In addition, for those with an intolerance, it is important to use alternative items in your diet when undertaking either a short or long term elimination diet to maintain nutrient balance.
Below are good examples of nutritional alternatives when eliminating peanuts:
Brewer’s yeast, oats, buckwheat, brown rice, rye, whole wheat, mushrooms, soybean flour and soybeans, split peas, sunflower seeds, lentils, chickpeas, broccoli, peppers.
Dried apricots, salmon, mackerel, tuna, monkfish, white beans, lentils, kidney beans, avocado, butternut squash, spinach, mushrooms, bananas, potatoes.
Spinach, kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, turnip greens, collards, avocado, sunflowers seeds, prawn/shrimp, crayfish, salmon, smoked salmon, swordfish, herring, trout, olive oil, sunflower oil, sweet potato, squashes, kiwi, mango, peach, nectarines, apricots, guava, raspberries, blackberries.
Rye, oats, brown rice, barley, quinoa, mussels, lima beans, chickpeas, aduki beans, lentils, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pineapple, spinach, kale, tofu, soybeans, sweet potato, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries.
Brown rice, oats, rye, whole wheat, quinoa, poultry, pork, liver, sardines, scallops, salmon, mackerel, crab, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews.
Managing a Peanut Allergy or Intolerance
If you’re unsure of how to manage your peanut allergy or intolerance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert advisors, who know everything you need to know about allergies and intolerances.
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