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Is coconut a tree nut?

Coconut was labeled a tree nut by the FDA in October of 2006.

This means that all food items with coconut must be listed as containing coconut/tree nut on the ingredient label.

However many individuals are not allergic to coconut and many allergists do not consider coconut a true tree nut. Why the confusion?

From a botanic standpoint, the coconut is a fibrous one seeded drupe.

By loose definitions the coconut can be considered a fruit, nut, and seed.

A drupe is a fruit with a hard covering enclosing the seed.

Some scientists call a coconut a seed, as a baby plant (and its food source) is within and sprouts through one of the eyes or holes of the coconut to form a new tree.

A nut can be defined as a one seeded fruit.

So you can see where the confusion comes in and why so many individuals disagree.

To clear things up, a true tree nut does not open at maturity to release its seeds. The seeds are released when the fruit wall decays or when ingested by an animal.

If you are allergic to tree nuts and are considering eating coconut, you should speak with your allergist. If you receive the go ahead, keep in mind that food items with coconut in them will/should have an ingredient label stating that it contains coconut/tree nuts.

Your Questions Answered” is a section on our site where readers can submit their questions to Best Allergy Sites. We try to respond/post all questions that have not been asked/published before.

Submit your questions to questions (at) bestallergysites (dot) com

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About Ruth LovettSmith

Ruth LovettSmith is a writer, artist and designer with a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She is the Founder and Editor of the popular food allergy information guide Best Allergy Sites. She also writes articles on art and design, food allergies, parenting, gardening and healthy living and is an advocate for and within the food allergy community.
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