Tree Nut Allergies


Tree nut allergies are one of the most common types of food allergies occurring in both children and adults. Tree nut allergies affect about 1 in every 100 people and like peanut allergies, the symptoms are often life-long, with only about 9 percent of children able to outgrow their tree nut allergy. The reaction to tree nut allergies can vary quite a bit. In milder cases, it may cause symptoms such as a dry, scratchy throat or tightness in the chest. But as with peanut allergies, the reaction to tree nut allergies can also be quite severe, often causing anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction to the allergenic proteins.

Similar Allergens

Tree nut allergies should not be confused with peanut allergies, which is a similar food allergy. Peanuts, however, are classified as a legume, related to beans and peas, and its allergenic proteins are distinct. While tree nut allergies can be just as severe and occur just as frequently as peanut allergies, peanut allergies are generally more widely recognized, so parents with children suffering from tree nut allergies may feel a lack of support in their child’s classroom or other social setting. As information and sympathy spreads, policies and attitudes are slowly changing, but in the meantime it’s important to remain vigilant.

Pine nut allergies, which are unrelated to tree nuts, are also a similar allergy, though people may be allergic to both. The reactions to tree nut, peanut, and pine nut allergies can be very similar, and potentially very severe.

Coconuts are classified by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) as tree nuts, but coconut is botanically recognized as a fruit, and most people with a tree nut allergy can safely eat coconut (although an allergy to coconut is also possible.) Always check with your child’s healthcare provider if you have any concerns about coconut or another food.

Ingredients to Look for When Avoiding Tree Nuts

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Almond, Artificial nuts, Beechnut, Brazil nuts, Butternut, Cashews, Coconut, Chinquapin nut, Filbert/Hazelnut

Gianduja, Ginkgo nut, Hickory nut, Litchi/lichee/lychee nut, Macadamia nut, Marzipan/almond paste

Nangai nuts, Natural Nut Extract, Nut butters, Nut meal, Nut meal, Nut paste, Nut pieces, Pecan, Pesto

Pili nut, Pine nut, Pistachio, Praline, Shea nut, Walnut

Also, be aware of the possibility of tree nuts in the following

While you should always check labels for allergens, keep these in mind as items that may have tree nuts more common than other items.

Black walnut hull extract, Natural nut extract, Nut distillates/alcoholic extracts, Nut oils, Walnut hull extract


Tree Nut Alternatives


There are many alternatives to tree nuts so that you and your family can still enjoy making recipes that used tree nuts without triggering your child’s allergy. If you have any concerns about the alternatives, ask your child’s allergist.


Sunflower seeds, Soy nuts, Hummus, Soy Nut Butter, Sunflower Seed Butter