AAIQ   The Association of Allergists and Immunologists of Québec

Tree nut allergy

Tree nuts are a common food allergen. Common nuts include, among others, almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, macadamia nuts, and pine nuts (according to Health Canada). An allergy to nuts affects about 1% of the population.

Is the peanut a nut? And what about coconut?

The peanut is part of the legume family and not the nut family. Although many people allergic to nuts are not allergic to peanuts, a certain number of people are allergic to both. Coconut is not considered a nut even though people can be allergic to it.

Is one allergic to all nuts?

People can be allergic to certain nuts, but not others. An evaluation by an allergist can help to determine these allergies. Regardless, even if you are not allergic to a certain nut, you must ensure before eating it that it has not come into contact with other nuts to which you are allergic.

How does one avoid nuts?

As for most other food allergies, treatment always begins with avoidance. In addition to informing those around you and taking precautions to avoid contamination, you must attentively read all food labels, since nut proteins can be found in many different foods. Other names may be used to designate nuts: nut meat, calisson, marzipan, pralines, nougat, Gianduja, pignon, etc. (see the site of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for a more exhaustive list).

What is the evolution of a tree nut allergy?

In the majority of cases an allergy to nuts is persistent and lifelong, but it has been shown that certain people can lose their allergy to nuts.


Nha Uyen Nguyen-Luu, MD FRCPC
(translation: Andrew Moore, MD FRCPC)