You would think that people with nut allergies could tell apart the various types of nuts. But no! According to the findings of a new study, it appears that allergic individuals and the parents of children with nut allergies have trouble identifying potentially dangerous nuts.
The study involved 649 adults and 456 children who were asked to identify 19 types of nuts, including peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios, almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and pine nuts. The nuts were displayed both in and out of the shell, and some were chopped or sliced, similar to how they appear on grocery store shelves. The participants only correctly identified an average of about eight of the 19 nuts! Adults averaged 11 correct answers, compared to just five for children. Only 2 percent of participants correctly identified all 19 types of nuts. People who reported they were allergic to nuts, along with parents of children with these allergies, did no better than participants without allergies.
Studies suggest that a little bit more than one percent of the Canadian population is allergic to peanuts or other nuts. Individuals with a peanut allergy may not be allergic to other nuts, and vice versa. Allergies to peanuts or tree nuts are the leading cause of death from food-triggered allergic reactions.
Avoiding exposure to nuts is essential for people with this type of allergy. It is therefore important to educate ourselves, because in this case learning to tell apart the various types of nuts could be a matter of life and death!