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. Tapioca or cassava flour is naturally gluten free. Tapioca flour is also sometimes used to make arrowroot
, which is used in baking and cooking as a thickening agent.
Cassava contains sulphites
naturally. Sulphites are inorganic salts which have the potential to cause symptoms of food intolerance to those sensitive to them, this food intolerance is more common in asthmatics. An improvement in symptoms can be made with a change to a low sulphite diet.
Cassava is a low FODMAP food. FODMAP
stands for F
olyols. 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.
Cassava is a food low in salicylates. Salicylates
have the potential to cause gastrointestinal food intolerance symptoms in people who are sensitive to salicylates.
You can read more about Food Intolerances
on the dedicated Food Intolerance Page.
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
Healthline - FODMAP Foods
Articles and Journals
Evaluation of improved cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) varieties and associated products for proximate, cyanogenic potential and glycemic indices, 2023
Occupational Hand Dermatitis amongst Cassava Processors in Rural Communities in Southwest Nigeria, 2022
Update on latex allergy: New insights into an old problem, 2021
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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