Bananas and kiwi fruit often are high on the list of recommended foods because they are high in fiber and potassium, low in sodium and fat and good sources of needed vitamins, including A, C and E. Unfortunately, they also contain proteins that cause allergic reactions in some people. These fruit allergies typically occur in teens and young adults but occasionally appear in infants and children, as well.
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Bananas are excellent sources of potassium, vitamin C and fiber. They also contain beneficial amino acids and very little sodium. However, the proteins contained in bananas, called profilins, can cause allergic reactions, notably swelling of the mouth, lips and tongue, tingling and itchiness and hives around the mouth or other areas of the body. Stomach and digestive reactions also may occur. Serious allergic reactions are rare with bananas but require immediate medical attention if they occur.
Kiwi fruit, also known as Chinese gooseberry, offers many nutritional benefits. One kiwi fruit provides as much potassium as a banana and more vitamin C than an orange, plus vitamins A and E and beta-carotene. It also is a good source of fiber and antioxidants. Like the banana, however, kiwi fruits contain proteins that can cause allergies. The most common reactions are itching, tingling and hives, similar to banana allergies. Serious reactions, including vomiting, stomach pain, breathing problems and anaphylaxis, are observed with kiwi fruit more often than with bananas.
Related Fruit Allergies
Other fruits also contain proteins that may cause allergic reactions. An individual who is allergic to bananas or kiwi fruits is likely to have allergic reactions to melon, watermelon, citrus fruits or tomatoes. Those allergic to kiwi also may be allergic to bananas and vice versa, though this is not always the case. Typically, an individual with fruit allergies is allergic to any fruits containing the same family of proteins. For example, apples, pears, cherries, peaches and plums are one family of proteins. Melons, watermelons, zucchini, cucumbers and pumpkins are another. Bananas and kiwi fruit are most reactive with the foods in this second protein family.
Individuals with allergies to either kiwi fruit or bananas often are allergic to other substances, particularly pollens and latex. These are known as cross-reactive allergies, in which an allergy to one of the substances is tied to allergies to one or more other substances. According to Allergic Living magazine, this is because the immune system identifies common elements of these substances and reacts similarly to them. Those with allergies to latex or pollen should be alert to possible signs of an allergy with bananas or kiwi fruit, and vice versa, but this does not occur in all cases.