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Key Allergens

Walnuts are in the Juglandaceae family of plants. Pecans are the other tree nut in this family.

There are two types of walnut, those most commonly found across Europe and Asia are known as English Walnut and those found in Canada and the US are called Black Walnut, they are distinct species with different allergenic proteins.

Black walnuts, Juglans nigra, have 3 key allergens, Jug n 1 is a 2S albumin protein. Jug n 2 is a vicilin like protein, these are often also referred to as 7S seed storage proteins. Jug n 4 is a legumin protein, also known as 11S seed storage proteins.

English walnuts, Juglans regia, have 8 identified allergens, which in addition to the 3 seed storage proteins above also have a Bet v 1 like protein (also known as PR-10), profilin proteins and 2 Lipid Transfer Protein (LTPs).

Walnuts have recently been shown to contain a number of oleosin proteins. These are allergens found in tree nut and peanuts.

Food Intolerances

Food is low in FODMAP Food is medium in salicylates Food is low in histamine

Walnuts are 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.

Walnuts are a food which contain a moderate amount of 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.

Walnuts are low in histamine, so are suitable for people who are following a low histamine diet.

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

Associated Syndromes

You may have Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome if you suffer from oral allergy symptoms to 3 or more of the foods mentioned in cross reactivity section.

There is also a link between walnuts 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.

Allergy to walnuts 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.

English walnut allergy is often linked to LTP Syndrome, where similarly shaped proteins in other plants resemble those in walnuts and elicit an allergic reaction.

Cross Reactivity

Other food containing 2S albumin seed storage proteins are cashews, peanuts, almonds, mustard seed, rapeseed, turnip, chickpeas, brazil nuts, pistachio, buckwheat, soya beans, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, kiwi, castor beans and sesame seeds.

There is a lot of cross reactivity between 2S and 11S seed storage proteins, the only other food containing 11S proteins not mentioned above is pumpkin.

Other foods containing 7S seed storage proteins not mentioned in the list above are lupin, lentils, macadamia, peas and mung bean.

If sensitised to birch tree pollen you may also react to apple, kiwi, pear, peach, plum, nectarine, apricots, cherries, tomato, celery, carrot, potato, parsnip, pepper, dill, cumin, peas, coriander, fennel, hazelnut, almonds, peanuts, lentils and beans.

Other foods containing profilin allergens are celery, peanut, soyabeans, lychee, 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.

Common foods involved in LTP allergy include 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.

Oleosins are found in buckwheat, hazelnuts, palm oil, quinoa, peanuts and sesame.

You can download a Tree Nut Allergy Factsheet from the Allergy Resources Ko-fi Shop for just $0.50 (£0.40 or €0.45). This has up to date information on which foods contain linked allergens and what foods to avoid if you think you have an allergy to tree nuts.

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



Allergen Encyclopedia - Walnut

Anaphylaxis Campaign - Walnuts

Allergy information for: Walnut (Juglans regia)

What Are the Symptoms of a Nut Allergy?

Allergy UK - Quick Guide to Tree Nut Allergy

FARE - Tree Nut Allergy

ATP Science - Salicylate Food List

Healthline - FODMAP Foods

Articles and Journals

Electrochemical immunosensing of walnut and hazelnut allergenic proteins in processed foods, 2024

Interplay of Walnut and Peanut Allergies in Pediatric Anaphylaxis: Prevalence, Cross-Reactivity, and Therapeutic Implications, 2024

Proteomic study of walnut oleosome and first evidence on oleosin sensitization in allergic patients, 2023

A Case Report of Acute Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome to Walnut, 2023

Quantitative In Silico Evaluation of Allergenic Proteins from Anacardium occidentale, Carya illinoinensis, Juglans regia and Pistacia vera and Their Epitopes as Precursors of Bioactive Peptides, 2022

Fatal Anaphylactic Shock Developed with Walnut and Rosehip, 2022

Walnut Allergy Across Europe: Distribution of Allergen Sensitization Patterns and Prediction of Severity, 2021

Allergen Recognition Patterns in Walnut Allergy Are Age Dependent and Correlate with the Severity of Allergic Reactions, 2019

Jug r 6 is the allergenic vicilin present in walnut responsible for IgE cross-reactivities to other tree nuts and seeds, 2018

Tree nut allergens, 2018

Current perspectives on tree nut allergy: a review, 2018

Purification and Characterization of a Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) Allergen, Jug n 4, 2017

2S Albumin Storage Proteins: What Makes them Food Allergens?, 2008

Jug r 4, a legumin group food allergen from walnut, 2006

Lipid transfer protein and vicilin are important walnut allergens in patients not allergic to pollen, 2004

Identification and cloning of a complementary DNA encoding a vicilin-like proprotein, jug r 2, from english walnut kernel (Juglans regia), a major food allergen, 1999

Cloning and sequencing of a gene encoding a 2S albumin seed storage protein precursor from English walnut (Juglans regia), a major food allergen, 1998

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 or Twitter - links at the bottom of the page.

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