Most diets urge you to eat nuts, what is a good substitute if you have allergies? – Suzanne from Michigan
Great question! As a mom of 2 kids who have multiple nut allergies, I understand the challenge that comes with trying to eat healthy while avoiding nuts. Nuts provide protein, fiber, healthy fats, and minerals, so they are definitely a great addition to any diet – unless they make you sick.
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.