A new UCLA/Louisiana State University study of dietary data on more than 17,500 men and women finds consumption of salad and raw vegetables correlates with higher concentrations of folic acid, vitamins C and E, lycopene and alpha and beta carotene in the bloodstream.
Published in the September edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the study also suggests that each serving of salad consumed correlates with a 165 percent higher likelihood of meeting recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for vitamin C in women and 119 percent greater likelihood in men.
Wow, a shocker! So maybe an apple a day actually does keep the doctor away. Unless you're me, that is.
You see, I'm allergic to raw apples. You read that right: raw apples. I'm perfectly okay with cooked apples. I could eat apple pie until I get sick (from eating too much pie) without having even the slightest reaction. But pop a thin slice of Granny Smith (for some reason McIntosh apples don't bother me nearly as badly) in my mouth, and within seconds my lips and gums will itch and throb while my throught will itch worse than if I had a feather stuck back there. I'm the same way with carrots. I could easily live on soups and stews that are overloaded with carrots, but raw? No way.
Which brings me to a necessary tangential tirade. Why does practically everyone insist on puttng shredded carrots in their salads? That really pisses me off! Do you have any idea how hard it is to pick out every little shred of carrot from a salad? I'll tell you: it's not even worth trying. But roughly 90% of the time that I eat out, I have to pass on the salad. And I LOVE a really good salad. It's not fair!
To varying degrees, I'm also allergic to various other raw fruits and vegetables, including almonds, peaches, pears and cherries. Cherries are kind of funny for me. I can't stand any of the "denatured" varieties, be it Marachinos or that sickeningly sweet and sticky topping some people put on their cheesecakes (strawberries or blueberries are far superior). But I actually like raw cherries ... at least for the few seconds before my mouth explodes into a volcano of itching and swelling.
The common thread with all my food allergies seems to be that cooking gets rid of the allergen. And the worst reaction that I've had is merely irritation (albeit major irritation). On three separate occasions, I've witnessed people being taken away in ambulances after going into anaphylaxis from eating shellfish and peanuts (the third was a bee sting). Luckily, I've never gone anaphylactic. I'm also lucky to have the cooking solution; people with peanut or shellfish allergies don't have this option. I always thought of my food allergies as being somewhat unusual.
My seasonal pollen allergies are anything but, though. I get really bad springtime allergies. It turns out I'm allergic to just about every variety of spring-blooming grass that grows wild in fields and is planted on peoples lawns. It sure sucks to be me. Surprisingly, I'm not allergic to such common allergens as mold spores and dust mites. I am allergic to birch, though. I remember when I was a child, coming home from the doctor's office where I had just had a skin scratch test, asking my parents what a birch was. After being shown the offending white-barked tree, I proceeded to naively avoid it from then on, as if it was poison ivy.
It might seem odd that I've spent as much space as I have on birch. I seem to recall that I had a pretty big reaction to the birch skin scratch, but being that birch is not anywhere near as ubiquitous as all the grasses I'm allergic to, it really has to be considered a minor player in my allergy profile. Or maybe not?
Just this weekend I found out about oral allergy syndrome, or OAS (I promise not to tell the Western hemisphere alliance about this). It turns out that allergies to raw fruit and vegetables is closely related to pollen allergies. Go figure!
OAS symptoms are the result of a "cross-reactivity reaction" between allergy antibodies directed toward target pollen proteins with similar proteins found in other parts of plants. Common symptoms of OAS included an itchy mouth and throat with mild swelling immediately after eating fresh fruits or vegetables.
I was pretty fascinated by all this, but I was absolutely floored by the what came next.
THAT'S ME!!! And my allergy even has a special name. All of a sudden I don't feel like such a freak anymore.
OAS can also occur in people with birch tree allergy symptoms when they eat peaches, apples, pears, cherries, carrots, hazelnuts, kiwis, and almonds, the AAAAI said.
Generally, cooking foods will eliminate an OAS reaction, according to the AAAAI.
Since I get several hits a day to this page from people Googling "itchy, mouth, raw, vegetables" etc, I thought I would add a few extra resourses for OAS.
Here's the Wikipedia page for OAS. It has a nice chart showing which vegetables relate to which pollens.
Here's the CHOP (Children's Hospital Of Pennsylvania) OAS website. It's an all-around good resourse.
And finally, here's a link to AllAllergy's OAS page. It contains links to 5 separate articles on OAS as well as a ton of comments that express the same sentiments as this post and those who have commented here.
Finally, I'd like to thank all of you who have commented on this post so far. When I first wrote this, I saw it as just a personal revelation. I never imagined that I would actually be helping people find out the truth about what was happening to them.