I hope everyone is having a great start of the summer, we just had our first really hot summer day here in Helsinki, it was fantastic after the particularly snowy and long winter!
I wanted to write something about quinoa and allergies since I have recently come across experiences from people having symptoms after eating quinoa. Some have had stomach issues, like cramps, vomiting etc. some have had hives, sneezing, and joint pain, others have just gotten a general sense of unwell after having some quinoa. It is often said that it’s the saponins that cause problems in quinoa, but I do know that some people get weird symptoms even after removing most of the saponins, so I don’t know if that’s the problem with everyone. Quinoa is also high in oxalates, and this is also why some want to avoid it.
I have no answers to why it is problematic to some, but I wanted to let everyone who reads this site and maybe uses the recipes know about this issue. I’ll put something in the sidebar about this eventually, or make a page for this issue. I use quinoa flour in so many recipes on this site that a warning of the possible issues has its place here; if you get weird symptoms, which have no explanation, please do look into the quinoa issue if the symptoms seem to come after eating it.
You can substitute the quinoa in this sites recipes easily with some rice flour for example - if the quinoa causes problems.
I myself have started to sneeze every time after eating quinoa, so I am giving it a rest for a while at least. My allergies, or intolerances, seem to come and go, I was intolerant to soy for a long time, but now after some time off it, I seem to be able to tolerate some tofu without problems ( I love tofu, so this is a big plus). Maybe too much of something is problematic to me in the long run; I did comment on one blog, a couple of years ago, about maybe growing intolerant to quinoa because I eat so much of it…
Lastly, I got an e-mail from a reader who wrote that the grassy taste in quinoa comes from the saponins in it, and some quinoa flours have less of the “grassy” taste, she mentioned that Ancient Harvest for example has had most of the saponins removed, and is therefore better tasting. I haven’t tried Ancient Harvest quinoa flour, but I have always wondered why some people complain about the “grassiness” of quinoa, and now I have my answer, some flours are indeed more bitter than others.
edit/ 6th July 2012
Thanks to all of you who have shared your thoughts on this, and your experiences, it’s very much appreciated!
I’ve personally had some quinoa occasionally here and there, and I still react badly to it, so I continue avoiding it. Actually, it seems that every reaction is worse than the previous one.
I have been surprised to find out that quinoa saponins have been tried out as vaccine adjuvants, and also that some quinoa cultivars cause reactions for celiacs-
2 cultivars had celiac-toxic epitopes that could activate the adaptive and innate immune responses in some patients with celiac disease.
The link to ajcn about the quinoa cultivars and celiac -
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