Cassava is a root vegetable from the Manihot esculenta plant and is known interchangeably as yuka and manioc. It is most commonly eaten in Africa and Central and South America, but is becoming increasingly more popular worldwide.
Cassava is in the Euphorbiaceae family of plants. This family also includes castor beans and the rubber tree plant Hevea brasiliensis the main plant responsible for latex allergies.
Man e 5 is the main protein in cassava that causes allergic reactions. This is a glutamic acid rich protein, similar in structure to hevein.
Hevein's role in plants is in plant defense, it is an important allergen as it is not easily broken down by heat or processing and can still cause an allergic reaction.
Cassava can be ground to make tapioca flour, this is used in breads and as a thickening agent. Tapioca flour is also the main ingredient in boba or bubble tea, this South East Asian drink has spread to most of the world.
Cassava allergy can be linked to Latex Food Syndrome
as the main allergen is similar in structure to hevein, which can cause problems in people with a latex allergy.
Those with a sensitivity to hevein or chitinase may have linked allergies to foods which contain high levels of chitinase, like avocado, banana, chestnuts, corn (maize), kiwi, papaya, pomegranate and tomatoes.
Science Direct - Hevein
Allergy Asthma Network - Latex Allergy
Latex-Fruit Syndrome and Class 2 Food Allergy
Articles and Journals
Food allergy to wheat, soybean and cassava in Benin: Literature Review, 2016
Latex-fruit syndrome in Italian children and adolescents with natural rubber latex allergy, 2013
Novel allergens from ancient foods: Man e 5 from manioc (Manihot esculenta Crantz) cross reacts with Hev b 5 from latex, 2013
Latex-allergic patients sensitized to the major allergen hevein and hevein-like domains of class I chitinases show no increased frequency of latex-associated plant food allergy, 2011
Allergic reactions to manioc (Manihot esculenta Crantz): Identification of novel allergens with potential involvement in latex-fruit syndrome, 2011
Allergy to cassava: a new allergenic food with cross-reactivity to latex, 2007
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