Recently, Best Food Facts reader Natalie submitted a question about palm oil regarding whether it causes allergic reactions.To answer the question, we reached out to Dr. Stephen Taylor, Professor, Food Science & Technology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Dr. Stephen Taylor
Dr. Taylor: "In my opinion, palm oil would be rather unlikely to be the cause of a food allergy. Food allergies are caused by proteins, and oils typically contain very low levels of protein. The likelihood of allergic sensitization to these proteins seems very low to non-existent, in my opinion. And, we don’t typically eat other foods derived from palm species, so sensitization by that route also seems unlikely. Coconut is a product of palm trees but coconut oil and palm oil are derived from different species of palm."
Natalie also asked whether there have been scientific studies on palm oil allergies.
Dr. Taylor: "No, palm oil allergy has not been described in clinical literature. That said, coconut allergy is described in clinical literature, but it's not common, and it is the only allergy to a food from the palm family. Coconut oil is not known to be allergenic, even in those with coconut allergy, because of its very low protein content."
Dr. Taylor recommended that Natalie ask an allergist about her palm oil allergy suspicions. He suggested that because palm oil is not eaten alone, but rather as an ingredient, there might be allergic reactions to another ingredient in the food.
If you are experiencing problems you think are associated with palm oil or allergies, please visit your physician or allergist.
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