Just diagnosed with a tree nut allergy? Along with peanut allergies, tree nut allergies are very common in children and adults. In fact, 25-40% of those people who have a peanut allergy will also be allergic to one or more tree nuts.
So let’s take a closer look at the difference between tree nuts and peanuts. A tree nut is simply a nut that grows on trees while a peanut is a ground nut and is part of the legume family (beans, peas, soy, and lentils). So if you have an allergy to tree nuts you may need to avoid almond, cashew, walnut, hazelnut, pistachio, and Brazil nuts. Who knew?
Did you know that if you are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts you have a better chance of being allergic to seeds such as sunflower or sesame seeds?
Not sure which nuts or seeds you are allergic to? Make an appointment today with an allergist to see what nuts you are allergic to!
Why is this important?
Tree nuts can cause a severe reaction. Symptoms can be mild and progress slowly or be quick and strong. These reactions may include nausea, hives, vomiting, trouble breathing, and tightness of the throat. Anyone allergic to tree nuts should always carry an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen®, Auvi-Q™). I know it’s a pain to carry epinephrine but you don’t want to be without one if you get a reaction.
Now, what should you look for?
Since 2004, all food labels need to clearly identify the eight most common food allergens in the U.S. So now all labels must list the ingredient and all must place a “Contains: Nuts” statement beneath the list of ingredients. You will sometimes see statements such as “may contain nuts” or “made in a facility with nuts”. These are all voluntary and not required so make sure you read your ingredient list. Not all products are regulated by the FDA so always be careful before you try any new lotions, shampoo, or bird food.
I’ve included a list of these ingredients to avoid here. You can even print your list out and carry it with you to the store. Remember to read all labels carefully before using any product, even if it has been used safely in the past.
This is especially important now that almond and cashew milks are being used more than ever as a healthy alternative to dairy. It seems to be the new fad for alternative, healthy eating. Even Starbucks is offering Almond milk for their coffee.
Be sure to check the list below to find hidden sources for a nut allergy.
– Nut extracts such as almond extract that is used in baked goods.
– Nut extracts used in alcohol.
– Nut oils used in lotions, shampoo, soaps, and other beauty items.
– Beware of nut proteins in some cereals, crackers, cookies, sauces, marinades, and cold cuts.
– Coconut is a fruit and most people who are allergic to nuts are not allergic to coconut but be sure to see an allergist
– Certain ethnic foods should be avoided (Chinese, African, Indian, Thai, and Vietnamese).
– Argon oil is from an Argon tree but is rare to have an allergy to this nut.
I’m here to tell you that you can cook and bake without nuts and still enjoy the foods you are used to. I’d be glad to show you how! So, follow along with us on our nut-free path in this blog, and let me help you navigate through this often complicated world of nut-free living.
Sources: FDA http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079311.htm
FARE (Food, Allergy, Research and Education) https://www.foodallergy.org/