Dry-roasted peanuts may be more likely to trigger allergic reactions than those that are “raw”, a study has shown.
The high temperatures involved in dry-roasting cause chemical changes that can sensitise the immune system to peanut proteins, research suggests. Scientists believe this may explain why peanut allergy is so much more common in the West than in Eastern Asia.
Dry-roasted peanuts are a popular snack in the UK and other Western countries, whereas in the East they are more often used in cooking and eaten raw, boiled or fried.
The research involved comparing the effects of proteins from dry-roasted and raw peanuts in mice. Animals initially exposed to dry-roasted peanut proteins subsequently developed a far stronger immune reaction to peanuts.
Dr Amin Moghaddam, from Oxford University, said: “Allergies are driven by multiple factors including family genetic background and exposure to environmental triggers. In the case of peanut allergy, we think we may have discovered an environmental trigger in the way peanuts are processed by high-temperature roasting.”