Sian Baker

Medically reviewed by Sian Baker, Dip ION mBANT mCNHC
on January 19, 2024. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Check My Body Health blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Chickpea Allergy

Yes, you can be allergic to chickpeas. While not as common as allergies to peanuts or milk, chickpea allergies can cause reactions that range from mild to severe. If you suspect you may be allergic, it’s important to understand the symptoms and get a proper diagnosis from a doctor.

Chickpeas are a delicious and healthy food for most people. However, if you experience unpleasant reactions after eating them, you may have a chickpea allergy. This occurs when your body’s defences mistakenly attack proteins found in chickpeas. It’s important not to confuse this with a digestive issue called a food intolerance. If you have any concerns, consult with a doctor.

Chickpea Allergy Symptoms

Recognising the symptoms of a chickpea allergy is crucial for quick intervention. Allowing you to take action. Common symptoms include:

  • Skin Reactions: Itching, hives, redness, or swelling.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhoea.
  • Respiratory Symptoms: Sneezing, nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath.
  • Anaphylaxis: In severe cases, a chickpea allergy can lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention.
    • Symptoms may include difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.

Can you be allergic to Chickpeas?

Yes, you can be allergic to chickpeas. Chickpea allergies, though less common than some other food allergies, can still trigger significant allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.

Cross-Reactive Foods

Potential Cross-Reactive Food Why a Risk?
Peanuts Shared proteins can cause reactions in some individuals
Soybeans Similar protein structure may trigger allergies
Lentils Belong to the same legume family as chickpeas
Other Legumes Less common, but possible depending on individual sensitivity

What causes a Chickpea allergy?

A chickpea allergy occurs when the immune system identifies proteins in chickpeas as harmful invaders, leading to an allergic response. The specific proteins responsible for this reaction are found in various parts of the chickpea, including the seeds and sometimes the skin.

The difference between a food allergy and food intolerance

Distinguishing between a food allergy and food intolerance is essential for appropriate management. A food allergy involves the immune system, leading to rapid and potentially severe reactions. Food intolerance, on the other hand, typically manifests as digestive issues without involving the immune system. Statically, a food intolerance is more common than an allergy.

How common is a Chickpea allergy?

While chickpea allergies are possible, it’s crucial to understand that food intolerances are more common than food allergies. Recent studies estimate that up to 20% of people worldwide may experience some form of food intolerance, underscoring the prevalence of non-allergic adverse reactions.

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How to test for a Chickpea Allergy:

If you suspect a chickpea allergy, consulting with an allergist is vital for accurate diagnosis and management. Common testing methods include:

  • Skin Prick Test: Small amounts of allergens, including chickpea proteins, are applied to the skin, and the skin is pricked to observe any allergic reactions.
  • Blood Test: A blood sample is taken to measure the presence of specific antibodies (IgE) associated with allergies. You can shop our blood allergy tests here.

What other foods might you be allergic to?

Cross-reactivity between chickpeas and certain other foods is possible due to shared proteins. Individuals with chickpea allergies might also experience reactions to foods such as:

  • Peanuts: Some individuals with chickpea allergies may also react to peanuts due to cross-reactivity.
  • Soybeans: Shared proteins with chickpeas may trigger allergic responses in some individuals.

Focus on Anaphylaxis

Most chickpea allergies cause uncomfortable symptoms, but some people can have a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. This causes serious problems like trouble breathing, a swollen throat, and dizziness. If you EVER experience these symptoms after eating chickpeas, call for emergency help immediately. Your doctor may recommend carrying an epinephrine injector (like an EpiPen) if you have this allergy. Look out for;

  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • Tightness in the throat
  • Swelling of the tongue or lips
  • Hives or widespread rash
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Drop in blood pressure

If you experience any of these symptoms after eating chickpeas, seek emergency medical attention immediately. Individuals diagnosed with a chickpea allergy should discuss with their doctor whether carrying an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) is necessary.

Lentil Connection

Chickpeas and lentils belong to the same plant family (legumes). If you have a chickpea allergy, there’s a higher chance you’ll also react to lentils. While not a certainty, it’s important to be cautious when introducing lentils into your diet. Consulting with an allergist can help determine your individual risk level.

What About Hummus and Falafel?

Hummus, a popular Middle Eastern dip, and falafel, fried chickpea balls, both heavily feature chickpeas. The cooking process involved in making these dishes may partially break down some of the allergenic proteins. This means that some individuals with mild chickpea allergies may tolerate small amounts of hummus or falafel. However, this varies greatly from person to person. It’s crucial to proceed with caution and ideally consult with a doctor before trying these foods if you have a diagnosed chickpea allergy.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I am allergic to Chickpeas, am I allergic to Peanuts?

While chickpeas and peanuts share proteins, allergies to one do not automatically indicate an allergy to the other. However, cross-reactivity is possible, and people with chickpea allergies should exercise caution with peanuts.

Can I eat chickpeas with a nut allergy?

People with nut allergies can typically consume chickpeas safely. Chickpeas are legumes, not nuts, and are not considered a common allergen for those with nut allergies. However, individual responses can vary, and it’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional.

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