What is a tree nut allergy and how do I know which nuts I’m allergic to?
A nut is the hard shelled fruit of some plants having an indehiscent (not splitting open spontaneously when mature) seed.
Like peanuts, tree nut allergy reactions can often be severe. Individuals are seldom allergic to only one type of tree nut and the allergy is typically lifelong. Recent studies have shown that about 9% of tree nut allergic children will outgrow their allergy.
Tree nut proteins can be found in a variety of products including non food products. Many packed foods such as cookies, cereals, bars etc. may contain tree nuts or traces of tree nuts. Lotions, shampoos and other body products have also been known to contain tree nuts.
There are tree nut allergy tests, however most allergists warn patients to avoid all tree nuts if they’ve experienced a tree nut reaction. There is the potential for manufacturer cross contamination amongst tree nuts and it’s also possible that tree nuts contain similar proteins.
Common Tree Nuts in the US
The following nuts are considered tree nuts under US law: almond, Brazil nut, cashew, chestnut, filbert/hazelnut, macadamia nut, pecan, pine nut (pignolia nut), pistachio, walnut.
These nuts are also considered tree nuts under US law, however the risk of an allergic reaction to these nuts is unknown: beechnut, ginkgo, shea nut, butternut, hickory, chinquapin, lychee nut, pili nut, coconut.