Can you eat coconut if you have a nut allergy?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question, “Can you eat coconut if you have a nut allergy?” with an in-depth analysis of coconut, nut allergies, symptoms of nut allergy and how to avoid nut allergies? 

Can you eat coconut if you have a nut allergy?

It depends. Coconuts, scientifically known as Cocos nucifera, belong to the family of tree nuts and maybe a risk for people who are allergic to other nuts. But, just because you are allergic to other tree nuts including pistachios or almonds does not inevitably imply that you would also be allergic to coconut.

Allergic reactions from coconut are rare. Yet, the concern is that it is found in many foods, so it is essential to understand whether you are allergic to coconut or not.

If you have a tree nut allergy, you need to consult your doctor regarding what foods you can not consume. 

You will have to be cautious about the foods that could have tree nuts in them like candy and desserts or could have come in contact with tree nuts. Also, coconut can be found in many foods, so you will have to be quite vigilant to avoid it if your doctor says you can not have it.

And always make certain to cleanse your hands before eating and keep your emergency epinephrine injector with you.

Coconut and nut allergies

Coconuts are more closely linked to palms and Areca nuts, in botany. Coconuts come from palm trees and are less related to other tree nuts.

Although botanical relationships are not the only constituent that defines whether two foods will be cross-reactive, foods that are botanically related often possess similar allergenic proteins. 

Let’s take cashews and pistachios as an example, both of which are closely related plants that comprise related proteins. Those who are allergic to any of these nuts are usually allergic to others.

There exists some data of cross-reactivity among coconuts and hazelnuts and coconuts and walnuts. There also exists an association between coconut sensitivities and those to almonds and macadamias.

Despite all these associations, the probability of having a coconut sensitivity is considerably weak. For instance, one study investigated children with peanut and tree nut allergies. The results showed that these children were more prone to be susceptible to sesame as compared to coconut.

Symptoms of nut allergy

If a person has a nut allergy, he will experience the following symptoms: 

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Itchy mouth, throat, eyes, skin or any other part
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Runny nose or Nasal congestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anaphylaxis, a potentially dangerous reaction that causes breathing impairment and can lead to shock

Tips to avoid exposure to tree nuts

Make sure to read the ingredient label completely to search for the names of the tree nuts you are required to avoid. 

Tree nut constituents may be listed in the table of the ingredients. Or they could be listed in the “contains” statement below the table of ingredients. For instance, “contains walnut” or “contains almond.” 

Federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) demands that all packaged foods monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must include the common names of all tree nuts prominently on the ingredient description if it includes tree nuts. 

Statements like “may contain coconuts” or “made in equipment with tree nuts” are optional. These are not demanded by a federal labelling rule. 

Consult with your doctor if you have eaten products with such labels or if you need to avoid them. 

Coconut is present in a wide variety of foods as a derivative mostly in the form of coconut oil, milk powder, cream, rice, sugar, water, and milk. It is also present in candy, gum, and various desserts. You must also know that marzipan, mortadella, and mandalas all contain tree nuts.

The FDA food allergen label law requires foods to state if they contain a major allergen such as tree nuts. But, many foods and products are not covered by the law, so it is still important to know how to read a label for tree nut ingredients. 

Products excluded from labelling rules include:

  • Products that are not directed by the FDA
  • Personal care items and cosmetics 
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Crafts, toys, and pet food

Nutrition for a Nut-Free Diet

Tree nuts are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. However, if you are recommended to avoid nuts of any variety, you should not be at nutritional risk as there are many different sources of protein to eat alternatively.

Nutrients LostWhen avoiding tree nutsSuggested Alternate Sources(If not allergic)
Protein, vitamins, mineralsIncrease other protein foods such as meat, legumes,  fish, poultry, eggs, dairy(if safe for your child)Fruit, vegetables, and enriched grains

Other FAQs about Coconut that you may be interested in.

Can you eat coconut shells?

Can you eat coconut skin?

Can I substitute coconut cream for coconut milk?

Conclusion

In this short article, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat coconut if you have a nut allergy?” with an in-depth analysis of coconut, nut allergies, symptoms of nut allergy and how to avoid nut allergies? 

References

https://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/tree-nut-allergy.aspx

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.