A chickpea (garbanzo bean) allergy is an allergic reaction to eating or, in some cases, touching chickpeas, a type of legume.
Like all types of food allergies, this is an immune response in which your body treats certain foods as harmful invaders. This is different from a food intolerance, which can also cause symptoms, but isn’t driven by an immune system response.
The proteins in raw chickpeas that are associated with allergic reaction, such as globulin, albumin, and prolamin, are retained even after the chickpeas are cooked.
Any food allergy can pose serious health risks, and chickpeas are no exception. If you’re allergic to chickpeas, you’ll need to avoid the legumes themselves as well as chickpea-containing foods like hummus.
Read on to learn more about chickpea allergy to see if you need to talk to your doctor about food allergy testing.
Legume allergies happen worldwide, but some are more common than others.
According to a review published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, soybeans and peanuts are the most prevalent legume allergies worldwide, but other legume allergies tend to be more regional.
Chickpea allergy is more common in India and the Mediterranean, two regions where chickpea consumption is much higher than in other parts of the world.
Still, people who have allergies to other legumes, especially lentils, are at a higher risk of chickpea allergy, according to the University of Manchester.
Specific food allergies aren’t necessarily passed on from parent to child, but if food allergies do run in your family, you may want to use extra caution and consider talking to your doctor about your risk.
Though chickpeas are mostly eaten after being cooked, eating the legumes raw could pose a higher risk of allergic reaction. Cooking doesn’t get rid of the allergens entirely, but certain methods, such as boiling, can reduce their effects.
Food allergy symptoms appear similarly in both adults and children. Some differences may be seen depending on the severity of the food allergy.
As with other food allergies, chickpea allergy symptoms most commonly occur on the skin, according to the University of Manchester. These include redness, rashes, and hives. You may also notice inflammation.
More serious symptoms of a food allergy include a decrease in blood pressure, diarrhea, and vomiting. It’s also possible to have asthma-like symptoms, such as coughing and breathing difficulties. A tightening sensation in the throat is also possible.
Severe food allergies can pose the risk of anaphylactic shock if you consume the culprit. This is a life-threatening condition that affects systems throughout the body, including blood pressure and breathing. Anaphylaxis requires hospitalization. When left untreated, it may be fatal.
A chickpea intolerance isn’t the same thing as a food allergy. You might experience digestive upset and brain fog, but food intolerance doesn’t cause immune-system reactions like allergies do.
Food allergies may be tested by skin-prick tests, blood tests, or both. A food diary can also help you and your doctor pinpoint a reaction to chickpeas.
Your doctor may ask you to write down everything you eat for several weeks, as well as whether you have any reactions.
The timing of the reactions is also important, as they tend to show up quickly. Food intolerance symptoms, on the other hand, take several hours to develop.
Unfortunately, it can be more difficult to test for chickpea allergy compared to other legumes.
The Molecular Nutrition and Food Research journal notes that there are no registered allergens associated with chickpeas. However, the proteins in chickpeas can have significant potential for allergen activity.
Having a peanut allergy doesn’t necessarily mean your child will also be allergic to chickpeas. However, since these are both legumes, you may want to ask your doctor about the risk to be on the safe side.
Chickpea allergy is more difficult to diagnose, so your doctor may have your child eat a small number of chickpeas at their office to see if a reaction occurs.
If you experience symptoms of a food allergy after eating hummus, your first reaction may be to blame the most common ingredient: chickpeas.
Before you blame chickpeas for the cause of your allergies, you may also want to consider other allergenic ingredients used in hummus, such as:
- red peppers
- sesame seeds
Can My Baby Eat Hummus?
As long as your pediatrician gives you the go-ahead, your baby can eat hummus once they’ve been eating solid foods and as part of a balanced diet.
Avoidance is the best way to treat a chickpea allergy. This approach isn’t always easy, so it’s important to keep an epinephrine (adrenaline) pen on hand in case you’re exposed. Even after administering this rescue drug, you’ll still need to go to the hospital for close monitoring.
A chickpea allergy can cause skin rashes and inflammation if you consume this type of legume. Not all legume allergies are related, but you may be at an increased risk of chickpea allergy if you’re already allergic to other legumes.
An intolerance to chickpeas isn’t life-threatening, but it may cause digestive symptoms, such as nausea and bloating.
If you’re concerned about giving your child hummus or any other form of chickpeas, it’s important to consult with your doctor first, especially if your child or another family member has allergies to other legumes.