Information from AAFA’s Ask the Allergist is not a substitute for a consultation with a health care professional. Always talk with your own doctor before making changes to your asthma or allergy management plan.
Q: My son is allergic to sunflower seeds. Without having tried it, would he be also allergic to sunflower oil?
A: As you know, people who are allergic to one seed may not be allergic to all seeds. Sesame is the most common seed allergy in the U.S., and most allergists recommend avoiding sesame oil, which is often unrefined. Sunflower is likely the most second most common seed allergy in the U.S. Not much is known about sunflower allergy.
Highly refined sunflower oil would not likely cause an adverse reaction in those with a sunflower allergy. But less refined or unrefined oils that contain the sunflower protein could possibly cause allergic reactions. Cold or expeller pressed oils are typically unrefined. Refined oils use a high heat process which can help remove food proteins from the oil and are unlikely to cause food allergy. I advise my patients to use caution since both oils exist.
Dr. Douglas Johnston is our Ask the Allergist columnist. Dr. Johnston is a board-certified allergist/immunologist with Asthma & Allergy Specialists, P.A., in Charlotte, North Carolina. He obtained his D.O. from New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his residency at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, New York. Dr. Johnston grew up with both allergies and asthma. He decided it would be exciting to help people with these conditions. His passion about food allergies also comes from having a child with a peanut allergy.