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Key Allergens

Plantains are a fruit in the Musaceae family of plants which also includes bananas. Bananas and plantains are very closely related as they are in the same genus of plants, Musa, but plantain is usually used in cooking.

Plantain as a food should not be mistaken for English plantain, a small weed in the Plantaginaceae family, it is notable as its pollen has moderate allergenicity and can cause allergic rhinitis (hayfever).

Allergic reactions from eating plantain are thought to be mainly caused by chitinase, which is a plant derived enzyme made by the plant and naturally acts as a defence against fungal attacks.

Much like bananas, plantains also contains profilin protein. These are plant panallergens with the potential to cause allergic reactions over large groups of seemingly unrelated groups of foods.

Plantains contains a Lipid Transfer Protein. Again this is a panallergen which can cause allergic reactions over groups of foods. Bananas and Plantains also contain a thaumatin-like protein, this is made by plants to inhibit fungal growth.

Food Intolerances

Food is low in FODMAP Food is low in salicylates

Plantain 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.

Plantain 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.

Associated Syndromes

Plantain allergy is most often seen in conjunction with allergies to other foods, either presenting as Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome or Latex Food Syndrome.

In Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome the body mistakes the shape of a protein that it is already sensitive to (a plant pollen) to a similarly shaped protein in certain fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs and nuts.

Latex Food Syndrome is caused by the body confusing the proteins it encounters in food to that of latex proteins to which it is already sensitised.

You may have LTP Syndrome if you react to multiple foods in the cross reactivity section.

Allergy to plantain is sometimes 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 a link between plantain 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 chitinases.

Cross Reactivity

Those with a sensitivity to chitinase may have linked allergies to foods which contain high levels of chitinase, like kiwi, chestnut, mango, banana, avocado, pomegranate, corn (maize) and date. There are additional studies showing that chitinase has been identified in beetroot, spinach, tamarind, cashew nuts and coffee.

Other foods containing thaumatin proteins are kiwi, chilli, peppers, apple, banana, cherry and peach.

If sensitised to LTP proteins you may also react to kiwi, strawberries, sunflower seeds, walnut, apple, mulberry, banana, pea, apricot, cherry, plum, almond, peach pomegranate, raspberry, tomato, grape, celery, peanut, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, chestnut, lemon, tangerine, orange, hazelnut, lettuce, lentils, lupin, green bean, pear, mustard, wheat and maize.

Plantain is broadly linked to other fruit profilin allergies. Allergy to celery, peanut, lychee, soyabeans, walnut, lupin, almonds, mustard, hazelnut, kiwi, pineapple, chilli, melon, orange, strawberry, apple, banana, aubergine (eggplant), peach, pear, tomato, dates, cherry, carrot, barley and wheat. Allergic reactions to some of these foods may be considered a marker of profilin hypersensitivity.



Allergen Encyclopedia - Banana

Science Direct - Musa AAB Group

Anaphylaxis Campaign - Banana

Healthline - FODMAP Foods

ATP Science - Salicylate Foods

Articles and Journals

Identification of S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine hydrolase from banana fruit as a novel plant panallergen, 2024

Study on sIgE distribution characteristics and the sensitization pattern of allergen in 1 161 patients with allergic diseases of respiratory tract in northwest China, 2023

Analysis of Protein Sequence Identity, Binding Sites, and 3D Structures Identifies Eight Pollen Species and Ten Fruit Species with High Risk of Cross-Reactive Allergies, 2022

Prevalence and Patterns of Latex Glove Allergy among Healthcare Workers in a Tertiary Care Center In South India - A Cross-Sectional Study, 2022

Comprehensive Review on Banana Fruit Allergy: Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, Management, and Potential Modification of Allergens through Food Processing, 2022

Allergen Tests of Fruit Sensitization Involving Children with Allergic Diseases, 2022

Identification of a thaumatin-like protein as a new allergen in persimmon (Diospyros kaki) with cross-reactivity with banana (Musa acuminata), 2021

Fruit-Induced Anaphylaxis: Clinical Presentation and Management, 2021

The Clinical Spectrum of Reactions Due to Banana Allergy, 2020

Banana anaphylaxis in Thailand: case series, 2020

Allergic foods to be avoided in eczematic patients -A Siddha perspective, 2018

An Overview on Phytochemical Composition of Banana (Musa spp.), 2017

Microbiological Quality Of Plantain (Musa paradisiacal), 2016

Taxonomical, Phytochemical and Pharmacological Reviews of Musa sapientum var. Paradisiaca, 2014

Heterogeneity of banana allergy: characterization of allergens in banana-allergic patients, 2002

Class I chitinases as potential panallergens involved in the latex-fruit syndrome, 1999

Latex allergy: clinical features and cross-reactivity with fruits, 1994

Banana allergy in patients with immediate-type hypersensitivity to natural rubber latex: Characterization of cross-reacting antibodies and allergens, 1993

Let me know if you found any of these interesting or useful. If you spot an article or research that you think is interesting you can message me or tag me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter - links at the bottom of the page.

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