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US analysis finds millions of people superfood-sensitive

Nearly 30m Americans are sensitive to some of the most common nutrient-rich foods, including chia seeds, cranberries and green tea, and could suffer from various reactions, including runny noses, bloating and hives, according to a recent analysis.

US food sensitivity specialist YorkTest analysed more than 12 000 of its food sensitivity test results, finding almost 10% of the population is sensitive to one of the top five most reactive superfoods.

Chia seeds are the most likely to cause an adverse reaction, with 8.7% of tests showing a reactivity – equivalent to more than 27.14m people across the US, reports News Medical.

The omega-3 rich seeds soared in popularity last year, but one in 10 Americans are sensitive to them, suffering anything from a runny nose to abdominal pain and even hives.

Green tea has a 1.2% reaction rate, which might be smaller in comparison, but still means up to 3.7m people could be suffering with every sip.

This comes as interest increases in superfoods, touted for their significant health benefits.

YorkTest analysis of food sensitivity tests found:

• Chia seeds – 8.7% reaction rate (27m Americans)
• Goji berries – 7.4% reaction rate (23m)
• Flax/linseed – 5.2% reaction rate (16m)
• Cranberries – 1.2% reaction rate (5m)
• Green tea – 1.2% reaction rate (3m)

Even those people tolerant to chia seeds could get caught out by goji berries, which have a 7.4% reaction rate and came second on the list.

The researchers said these might be packed with antioxidants, but more than 23m Americans might experience bloating, nausea and skin rashes when using them as a topping for yogurt.

Flaxseed or linseed is another popular additive to a range of fruity snacks, but one in 20 Americans could be sensitive – and according to Allergy Los Angeles, it’s an emerging allergen.

Cranberries are the final superfood to feature in the top five most likely to cause sensitivity.

Some 5.3m may find themselves in a flush, with a headache or watery eyes after consuming the food that’s high in vitamin C.

Kerri Ferraioli, expert nutritionist at YorkTest, said: “It’s not surprising that many people are turning to superfoods as they seek out a healthy and balanced diet.

“While there are lots of known food groups that could be more likely to cause a reaction, such as gluten or dairy, ultimately everyone is different, and it could be the least likely food that’s causing symptoms.”

She said of the 27m people sensitive to chia seeds, eating more quinoa, sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds could offer similar nutritional benefits, and blackberries or blueberries are an alternative to goji berries, and taste just as good.


York full breakdown (Open access)


News Medical article – Study: Almost 10% of Americans are sensitive to one of the top five most reactive superfoods (Open access)


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