Coconut allergy what to avoid
Although coconut allergy is rare, food allergy symptoms associated with a coconut allergy may happen after drinking or eating foods made with coconut in those who are allergic.
These reactions may include:
- skin reactions such as rash, hives or eczema
- gastrointestinal symptoms love nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, or diarrhea
- airway symptoms including wheezing, coughing, or a runny nose, and
- swelling, also known as angioedema, of the lips, tongue, or face
Severe reactions, called anaphylaxis, may happen in coconut allergy and affect multiple organ systems. However, anaphylaxis to coconut is extremely rare.
Contact allergic dermatitis to coconut is more common than a full-blown allergic reaction.
This occurs due to the presence of coconut-derived products such as coconut diethanolamide, cocamide sulphate, cocamide DEA, CDEA, which may be found in cosmetics such as shampoos, moisturizers, soaps, cleansers and hand washing liquids. An itchy blistering rash may develop a day or two after contact with the coconut allergen, and take several days to resolve. If you suspect contact dermatitis due to coconut, contact your doctor for proper testing.
Food that May Contain Coconut
- candy bars (Almond Joy)
- pie (coconut cream pie)
- ice cream
- cookies (macaroons)
- yogurt (coconut flavor)
- mixed alcoholic drinks (piña coladas)
Botanically, coconuts are most closely related to other palm and betel nuts.
While botanical relationships are not the only factor that determine whether two foods will be cross-reactive, foods that are shut biological relatives often share related allergenic proteins. For example, cashews and pistachios are two closely related plants that contain similar proteins. People who are allergic to one of these nuts are often allergic to the other one as well.
When it comes to coconut, there is some evidence of cross-reactivity between coconuts and hazelnuts, and coconuts and walnuts.
However, the botanical distance between coconuts and tree nuts would propose that most people with tree nut allergy may tolerate coconut.
A Expression from Verywell
Since there is no cure for coconut allergy at this point in time, living with a coconut allergy means learning to avoid coconut and coconut ingredients in foods and non-food items while being prepared for future reactions.
You will need to carry an emergency first aid kit with you, including contact information, antihistamines, and an epinephrine auto-injector, if prescribed by your doctor.
If you've been diagnosed with a tree nut allergy, you should avoid coconut given that there is a possibility of cross-reactivity and tree nut reactions can be severe.
If you're allergic to another tree nut, yet own a history of eating coconut without a problem, and are interested in seeing whether coconut could be part of your diet, discuss further testing for coconut allergy with your allergist.
Your allergist can let you know whether your test results and history indicate more testing or a food challenge as a reasonable next step.
If you own skin sensitivity to coconut—also known as contact allergic dermatitis—keep an eye out for ingredients and alcohols in beauty products that may be derived from coconut and avoid them.
A food allergy is when the body’s immune system reacts unusually to specific foods.
Although allergic reactions are often mild, they can be extremely serious.
Symptoms of a food allergy can affect diverse areas of the body at the same time. Some common symptoms include:
- an itchy sensation inside the mouth, throat or ears
- a raised itchy red rash (urticaria, or «hives»)
- swelling of the face, around the eyes, lips, tongue and roof of the mouth (angioedema)
Read more about the symptoms of food allergies.
Foods to Avoid with a Coconut Allergy
To avoid coconut in foods, you must be a food label detective.
Coconut is present in numerous foods as a derivative such as coconut oil, rice, sugar, water, cream, milk, and milk powder. You may discover coconut in cakes, chocolates, rum, candy, and many desserts. It may also be included in baby formula.
And, as mentioned, numerous coconut-derived ingredients are found in soaps and shampoos.
These foods contain coconut:
- coconut water
- coconut milk powder
- coconut cream
- coconut milk
- coconut oil (highly refined oils are generally not problematic)
- coconut sugar
Diagnosis and Treatment of Coconut Allergy
Coconut allergy is generally diagnosed by a medical doctor (allergist) after a medical history, physical examination, and food allergy testing are performed.
The treatment for coconut allergy is the elimination of coconut from the diet.
You'll need to avoid coconut-containing foods completely to avoid an allergic reaction.
Coconut is found in numerous food products and is added for flavor and texture. Foods most likely to contain coconut include granola bars, cookies, other desserts, and cereals.
The Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) identifies coconut as a tree nut (even though it’s a fruit) for the purposes of product labeling and consumer protection against potential allergens.
Manufacturers must list coconut as a potential allergen ingredient and foods containing coconut are required to be labeled "contains tree nuts" under FALCPA.
You may also discover statements that tell, “contains coconut” on the label.
Not only will you discover this information in the ingredients list, but it will also be on the package. Some products won’t call out coconut-based ingredients on the label. There are two things you can do in this situation: call the manufacturer and inquire about the specific ingredients contained in the product, and/or skip eating the product.