Nut allergies (peanuts and tree nuts) are becoming more prevalent and can be life threatening. How do you replace nutritious nuts in a healthy diet? Here are a few tips and healthy alternatives to nuts to include in your diet. This post about healthy nut alternatives was originally featured as my guest post at Around the Plate
Did you know that it’s estimated that over 15 million Americans have food allergies, and every 3 minutes, a food allergy sends someone to the ER? There are so many people out there with food allergies, and peanut and tree nut allergies are among the most severe.
Yet we all know that nuts can be nutritious (if you can have them!) and many diets call for nuts. What do you do for a healthy diet if you have nut allergies? What are some good options?
As a mom of 2 kids who have multiple nut allergies, I understand the challenge that comes with trying to help my kids eat healthy while avoiding nuts. Nuts provide protein, fiber, healthy fats, and minerals, so they are a great addition to any diet – unless they make you sick.
Healthy nut alternatives
Seeds make great substitutes for nuts since they provide the same nutritional benefits. Great seeds to include in your diet are:
- Sesame seeds (and Tahini)
- Sunflower seeds (and SunButter)
- Pumpkin and squash seeds (aka pepitas and pumpkin seed butter)
- Hemp seeds and hemp hearts (and hemp butter)
- Watermelon seeds (you can buy these roasted online)
- Chia seeds (fine consumed whole)
- Flax seeds (should be ground first to get the benefits)
- Pomegranate seeds (aka arils)
- Papaya seeds (I haven’t tried this one yet!)
You can also make your own seed butters or buy seed butters if you want a change of pace as well. Just be certain to read labels and make sure that the seeds and seed butters you choose are not cross-contaminated with the nuts you are allergic to.
Also take caution with seeds if you have diverticulitis and check with your doctor about seeds if you have digestive problems, as seeds can sometimes aggravate certain digestive disorders.
Coconut is also a great sub for nuts, although the FDA has determined that coconut should be labeled as a tree nut. Coconut, however, is a fruit and not a true nut, so check with your doctor about the safety of consuming coconut if you have nut allergies. Here is what the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) says about coconut:
Coconut is not a botanical nut; it is classified as a fruit, even though the Food and Drug Administration recognizes coconut as a tree nut. While allergic reactions to coconut have been documented, most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut. If you are allergic to tree nuts, talk to your allergist before adding coconut to your diet.
Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist