Quinoa /ˈkēnwä/ is a small grain-like food that actually belongs to the fruit family. Due to its appearance, nutritionists describe quinoa as a pseudo-cereal. It is rich in protein, and is considered a good dietary source. A person may not be allergic to quinoa, but to its saponins, or the chemicals in the fruit’s coating. Saponins have a waxy texture, which protects the plant from insects. Some individuals are especially sensitive to these chemicals especially after being exposed repeatedly. Saponins are also found in soybeans, chickpeas, amaranth seeds, and legumes.
If someone has a serious allergic reaction after coming into contact with quinoa, he or she experiences coughing, difficulty swallowing, a hoarse throat, tightness in the throat, stomach cramps, swelling of the tongue, vomiting, and wheezing. If a person is experiencing difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, and a rapid heart rate, these indicate anaphylaxis, which is a medical emergency.
According to a report from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, most people experience symptoms of food allergy within two hours of consumption but in some cases, symptoms are delayed for 4-6 hours or longer. Also note that allergies like this can develop with age. Someone without issues after eatinq quinoa, may suddenly notice an allergic reaction after eating it.
If someone has an allergy or is sensitive to quinoa, it may indicate that he or she may also have sensitivities to similar foods, particularly apples. According to a 2018 review published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, sensitivity to quinoa was associated with sensitivity to apples, among 212 children tested.
Similar to other food allergies, avoiding the food is usually the most effective way to prevent a reaction. See a doctor or an allergist to know more about the foods to avoid, and to receive proper medication. An individual with a history of anaphylactic reaction may need to carry an epinephrine injector. In the event of a reaction, using an injector can reduce the symptoms until a professional medical attention is given.