Lentil allergy, although not very common in the United States, is an important allergen worldwide. Legumes in general are an important cause of food allergies worldwide. A recent study looked at the characteristics of food food allergy in Turkish children, this study was published in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.
Lentils are in the family of legumes, other plants in the category are peanuts, soy, lupin, peas and beans.
Lentils are a great source of nutrition and contain B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and potassium amongst are nutrients.
A study of 87 children with a documented history of legume allergy were evaluated. Asthma and allergic rhinitis were comorbid conditions in many of the patients.
Lentil and peanut allergy were the most commonly diagnosed types of legume allergy, 66% and 61% respectively. Other types of allergy diagnosed were chickpea (28%), pea (24%), bean (8%) and soybean (1%). Many of the children had other types of food allergy including tree nuts, hen’s egg and cow’s milk.
In this sample of Turkish children, legume allergy is associated with allergies to multiple legumes and to other food groups. In Western countries, in Turkey, lentil allergy is more common than peanut allergy while soybean allergy is uncommon. This pattern might result from “the interaction between exposure and personal atopic background” the researchers suggested.
In the United States, legume allergy is less common compared to other countries (except for peanut and soy). However foods containing other legumes appear to be more prevalent especially with the increased consumption of plant based proteins. The Turkish children in this study showed cross reactivity to chickpeas, peas and peanut.
Lentil allergy can present as anaphylaxis, hives, angioedema or associates symptoms. The mainstay of treatment for any type of food allergy is epinephrine.
Lentil allergy or any type of legume allergy can be tested by an allergist via skin testing or IgE testing through lab work.
If you or a family suspect you are allergic to lentils or other legumes, avoid that food until you can see an allergy doctor and get tested.
Although lentil allergy is not as common in the United States compared to other Mediterranean countries where is more highly consumed. It is on the rise as more people are eating plant based foods. Sesame allergy was recently added as the 9th food allergen, other foods may be added in the future.
Update March 21, 2023
A recent study among Turkish children, where legumes are more highly consumed than Western countries, showed that lentil allergy is more common than peanut allergy. This Mediterranean cohort of children with legume allergy indicates high cross reactivity among lentils, chickpeas, peas and peanut. In contrast to Western countries, lentil allergy is more frequent than peanut allergy whereas soybean allergy is uncommon. These patterns might result from the “interaction between exposure and personal atopic background” the researchers suggest.