Key Allergens

Palm oils are edible vegetable oils from plants in the Arecaceae family, also commonly known as palm trees. Other plants in this family which are eaten include dates and coconuts.

Palm oil is also used in beauty products, candles and health products. Unrefined palm oils are less processed and more likely to still contain allergens. Refined oils are more processed, which can damage allergenic proteins and are less likely to cause allergic reactions.

Palm oil is not currently associated with food allergy. To date there are no recorded allergens for palm oil by the World Health Organization (WHO), because there have not been enough study into allergic effects from this food. If you are interested in what is needed by the WHO before they add an allergen to their allergen database you can check that out HERE.

Like date palms, palm oil has been shown to contain profilin proteins. Profilins are small proteins involved in the assembly of actin filaments. Actin filaments in plants determine the shape and movement of the cell’s surface.

Profilin proteins are considered to be minor panallergens. They are less commonly associated with allergy than lipid transfer proteins and seed storage proteins, but have become more studied in recent years due to the possibility of cross reactivity.

Palm Oils have been shown to contain oleosin proteins, these are more hardy panallergens which are not damaged by heat or processing.

Palms are not related to any tree nuts or peanuts, so are not linked to nut allergy at all.

Food Intolerances

Food is low in FODMAP

Palm Oil is a low 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.

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

Associated Syndromes

Allergy to palm oil can be loosely linked to Celery-Mugwort-Spice Syndrome as the sensitising allergen is a profilin protein called Art v 4, these proteins are also sometimes also called Bet v 2 proteins.

There is also a link between palm oil and Latex Food Syndrome. The plant involved in latex allergy Hevea brasiliensis, the rubber tree plant, has an allergen called Hev b 8 which is a profilin protein. Those very sensitised to latex may have a contact allergic reaction from other foods or plants containing profilin proteins, there is less evidence of this than sensitisation to other latex linked proteins like hevein and chitinase.

Cross Reactivity

Profilins in other foods include almond, aniseed, apple, aubergine (eggplant), banana, barlet, beetroot, pepper, carrot, celert, cherry, coriander (cilantro), corn, courgette (zucchini), cucumber, cumin, date, soya (edamame), fennel, fig, hazelnut, kiwi, lychee, mango, melon, mustard, onion, orange, parsley, parsnip, peach, peanut, pear, persimmon, pineapple, plum, poppy seeds, quinoa, rice, soya, strawberry, sunflower seeds, tomato, walnut, wheat and lupin.

Profilin proteins are also found in pollens, these include ragweed, pigwood, wormwood, sugar beet, birch, hemp, crocus, grasses, sunflower, privet, olive, rice, plantain, poplar, mesquite, oak and maize.

Other foods which contain oleosin include hazelnut, peanut, quinoa, sesame seeds and buckwheat.

Note that these food lists are not exhaustive, the most up to date information is on the Cross Reactivity Tool.



Allergen Encyclopedia - Oil Palm

Science Direct - Palm Oil

Fodmapedia - Palm Oil

AAAAI - Palm and Coconut Oils

Anaphylaxis UK - Vegetable Oils

Articles and Journals

Sensitization to oil palm pollen associates with risks and severity of allergic diseases, 2024

Molecular characterization of oleosin genes in Cyperus esculentus, a Cyperaceae plant producing oil in underground tubers, 2023

Contact allergens in moisturizers in preventative emollient therapy – A systematic review, 2022

Study of the Expected Impact of Palm Pollen on Human Respiratory Tract Allergy, 2021

Identification of species-specific peptide markers in cold-pressed oils, 2020

Clinical side effects after oral administration of palm oil and Alchornea cordifolia decoction in a child, 2018

Cloning, characterization and expression analysis of a 7S globulin gene in mesocarp of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.), 2012

The isolation and amplification of full length cDNA of oleosins from oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), 2010

Cloning and Characterization of the Oleosin cDNA Isoforms from Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.), 2008

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