For the purposes of this group of allergens we are going to include the main family of grains, Poaceae and then also consider a few pseudocereals in the Amaranthaceae and Polygonaceae families of plants. The table at the bottom of the page summarises the foods and their allergens.
When we think of grain allergies we most often think of sensitivity to gluten, this is not a food allergy, but an auto immune disease and is covered briefly below.
GRAINS AND GLUTEN
Gluten is the name given to a group of proteins (also known as prolamins). The names of the food proteins involved in coeliac disease are gliadin, hordein, secalin, zein, kafirin and avenin. Reactions to this group of proteins are not considered to be a true IgE allergic reaction.
Coeliac disease (European spelling, known as Celiac in North America) is an autoimmune disorder where the body reacts to gluten in foods consumed and damages the gut, causing poor absorption of foods.
Despite not being an allergy gluten is usually included in food allergy lists as it needs to be labelled on food in Europe as there are large number of coeliacs worldwide.
You can also be intolerant to gluten, but not successfully test as a coeliac, this is called non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)
. You can read more about this on the Food Intolerance
SEED STORAGE PROTEINS
Buckwheat, millet and quinoa all contain 2S seed storage proteins
. Buckwheat and quinoa also contain 7S seed storage proteins
and 11 seed storage proteins
are also found in quinoa.
Seed Storage Proteins are mostly associated with nuts, seeds and legumes.
How you react to seed storage proteins will vary from person to person and the food they are found in, but they are generally associated with severe anaphylactic reactions, so are considered to be one of the major panallergens.
Profilin proteins are found in barley, corn (maize), quinoa, rice, sorghum and wheat.
are found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, seeds and grains as well as plant and tree pollens.
How people react to profilin proteins will vary from person to person and the food they are found in, but they are generally broken down by digestion, cooking or processing, so are considered to be one of the minor panallergens. They are most likely to cause oral allergy type symptoms.
Profilin allergies can sometimes be linked to Latex Food Syndrome
as profilins are a minor panallergen found in the rubber plant which can sensitise latex allergy sufferers.
LIPID TRANSFER PROTEINS
Lipid Transfer Proteins are found in corn (maize), durum wheat, millet and wheat.
Lipid Transfer Proteins
(also called LTPs) are panallergens found in many groups of foods and can cause serious allergic reactions. It is often the allergen found to be linking what initially looks like lots of random food allergies together.
These proteins are heat stable, so can cause allergic reactions even after a food is cooked or processed, they are more likely to cause serious allergic reactions.
When a person is allergic to many foods containing LTPs, usually across many food groups they are said to have LTP Syndrome
Chitinase Proteins are found in corn (maize).
are panallergens found in many groups of foods and can cause serious allergic reactions.
The plant involved in latex allergy Hevea brasiliensis
, the rubber tree plant, has an allergen called Hev b 11 which is a chitinase protein. Those very sensitised to latex may have a contact allergic reaction from foods, plants or insects containing similarly shaped proteins. This gives this protein an important role in Latex Food Syndrome
Oleosin Proteins are found in quinoa and buckwheat.
are a lesser known allergenic protein found in plants. The proteins are involved in preventing the build up of oil molecules and may have a role in lipid store degradation during plant germination.
Oleosin proteins have been shown to maintain their shape after thermal processing, for example, studies have shown that roasted peanuts (in their shell) had more allergenic oleosin proteins than peanuts which were not heated.
Table Showing which grains contain which allergenic proteins
Information in this table is from multiple resources – please visit the Food Allergy Index
for information on each individual allergen.
You can download a Grains Factsheet from the Allergy Resources Ko-fi Shop
for just $0.50 (£0.40 or €0.45).
Lots of fruits have been linked to lectins and/or salicylate intolerance. You can read more about food intolerances on the Food Intolerance
page, visit individual foods on the Food Allergy Index
to see which foods may be causing a problem or go and see the dedicated Lectins Page
to read more.
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