Favism is associated with G6PD Deficiency and is called favism because the consumption of fava beans, sometimes called broad beans, causes oxidative stress and hemolytic anemia. In some cases eating any legume causes some degree of hemolysis.
The exact relationship between Favism and G6PD Deficiency is not known. There is some debate among historians as to whether or not Pythagoras’ ban on beans was a result of favism. The following book discusses this at some length. (Plants Of Life, Plants Of Death).
Fava Beans (Vicia faba), also known as Broad Beans, Horse Beans, Tic Beans, Field Beans or Bell Beans contain vicine, divicine, convicine and isouramil,all of which are oxidants. However, the exact substance in legumes which causes hemolys is not known. One problem that has hampered research progress on favism has been the lack of a favism susceptible animal model (Beutler, 1978). There are no commercially available G6PD Deficient laboratory animals and efforts to induce favism in rodents given vicine and convicine have been unsuccessful (Yanai and Marquardt, 1985).
Fava beans are cultivated commercially mainly in Asia and Europe, but as demand for them grows, they are being produced in other places.
Fava beans are becoming more widely used in American products. Fava beans are now used as flavoring or filling in some packaged products. Be sure to read all package labels when purchasing commercially produced products even when you know the product as recipes are often changed.
For many with Favism, coming into contact with the pollen of Fava Bean plants can cause a hemolytic crises and possibly death. Because of the availability of hemoglobin meters some people with Favism have been able to determine that many other legumes also cause varying degrees of hemolysis, soy beans being among the worst. It is difficult to find legume free products in food outlets and especially in baby formulas. Fortunately, soy is being used less frequently, though it is still difficult to find packaged products without it.