Key Allergens

Broad beans (also known as faba or fava beans) are in the Fabaceae family of plants, these are also known as legumes. Other plants in this family include kidney beans, peanuts, peas, lentils, lupin, green beans and soya beans. If you want to find out more about legumes you can visit the Legume page.

Broad beans contain 7S seed storage proteins and 11S seed storage proteins, much like most other legumes. These proteins aren't always broken down by cooking or processing and can cause severe allergic reactions.

Broad beans contain chemical compounds called vicine and convicine which in certain people with an enzyme deficiency can cause favism, a condition which affects red blood cells and can cause serious anaemia.

Food Intolerances

Food is high in Histamine Food is high in FODMAP Food is high in salicylates Food is high in lectins

Broad beans are high in histamine when they are eaten from cans, this is because of the ways they are preserved. Canned beans are not suitable for people who are following a low histamine diet.

Broad beans are a high FODMAP food. FODMAP stands for Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Foods high in FODMAPs can cause symptoms of food intolerance, affecting the gastro intestinal system and this can be mistaken for a true IgE food allergy.

Broad beans are a food high in salicylates. Salicylates have the potential to cause worsening of asthma, swelling, itching and hives as well as food intolerance symptoms in people who are sensitive to salicylates.

Broad beans contain large amounts of lectins, another cause of food intolerance. Cooking foods with lectins makes them more digestible and can reduce the symptoms of food intolerance.

You can read more about Food Intolerances on the dedicated Food Intolerance Page.

Associated Syndromes

Broad beans can cause what seems to be a severe allergic reaction in some people, but is actually a condition called Favism. Favism is only seen in people who have a Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. The lack of this enzyme can cause red blood cells to deteriorate, causing symptoms like jaundice, shortness of breath and dark urine.

This is an X-Chromosome linked disorder, so disproportionately affects males as they only need 1 defective X chromosome to be affected by this condition. It can be found in women, but they would need 2 defective X chromosomes, one from each parent.

Cross Reactivity

Other foods containing 7S seed storage proteins include peanut, pecan, hazelnut, soya bean, walnut, lupin, sesame, adzuki bean, black eyed pea, black gram, buckwheat, cashew, chia seed, chickpea, coconut, fenugreek, garbanzo beans, lentils, macadamia, mung bean, palm oil, pine nut, pistachio, quinoa and red bean.

Foods containing 11S seed storage proteins include almond, cashew nut, kiwi, mustard, sesame, soya and walnuts.

Visit the Legumes page if you react to all types of legumes and would like a more extensive list.

These food lists are not exhaustive, the most up to date information is available on the Cross Reactivity Tool.



Science Direct - Vicia faba

Histamine Foods

Healthline - FODMAP foods

ATP Science - Salicylate Foods

Science Direct - Favism

Rare Disease Database - Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency

Articles and Journals

Shotgun proteomics and in silico analysis of potential allergens in mature seeds and sprouts of purple winged bean, 2024

Co-sensitization between legumes is frequently seen, but variable and not always clinically relevant, 2023

11S globulin identified as a new bean allergen, 2023

Lentil allergens identification and quantification: An update from omics perspective, 2022

Nutritional management of immediate hypersensitivity to legumes in vegetarians, 2022

Contribution to the estimation of the prevalence of food allergy in schoolchildren in the city of Guelma (Algeria), 2021

Lectin Activity in Commonly Consumed Plant-Based Foods: Calling for Method Harmonization and Risk Assessment, 2021

Dietary Lectins: Gastrointestinal and Immune Effects, 2020

Identification and Quantification of Major Faba Bean Seed Proteins, 2020

Hypersensitivity linked to exposure of broad bean protein(s) in allergic patients and BALB/c mice, 2014

Modulation of IgE immunoreactivity to broad bean proteins after food processing in a Moroccan population, 2014

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