Cracking the Case of the Coconut: A Nut or Not?


The name “coconut” suggests its classification to follow other “nut-named” foods; however, the literature suggests that there have been a small number of allergic reactions to coconuts reported: of which most occurred in people not allergic to tree nuts [1].

The confusion started when the FDA in 2006 listed coconut as a tree nut, prompting to the industry that products shall be labeled thereafter. In the Fall 2005 issue of Allergic Living Magazine there is a dialogue between a mother and Dr. Wade Watson, an allergist featured in the magazine. The mother of a peanut and tree nut-allergic boy asked Dr. Watson if her son has to stay away from coconut as well. Dr. Watson’s answer was: “Coconut is a member of the palm family, which is not related to nuts or peanuts. Coconuts are large seeds adapted for water-born dispersal and remain viable after having floated in the sea for six months or more. If your son is allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, there is no reason for him to avoid coconut.” BUT! Before introducing this wonderful source of health into our diet: ask your allergist if coconut is good idea for you.

Fast Facts: Cocos nucifera L. (Arecaceae (alt. Palmae) is the latin name for the widely beloved coconut, a fruit that botanically belongs to the plant family of drupes. The health benefits of coconut, or more specifically coconut oil, are known to be plenty. Lately, coconut oil has gained a powerful reputation as a “miracle oil”, used in hair and skin care and in the diet for stress relief, cholesterol level maintenance, weight loss, boosted immune system, proper digestion and regulated metabolism. Many of the benefits of the oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and their respective properties, such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial and soothing qualities.


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