Coconuts are part of the Aracaceae
family of plants and are more similar to palm plants, banana and pineapple than they are to tree nuts. Coconuts are not classified as tree nuts, they are classified as fruits.
Coc n 1 is a major allergen associated with allergy to coconut - it is classified as an inhalent allergen rather than an ingested food allergen. It is a protein which is vicilin like, these types of proteins are usually found in nuts, seeds and legumes and are referred to as 7S seed storage proteins
There is some evidence that coconut can cause contact dermatitis rashes - this is due to cocamide diethanolamine (Cocamide DEA). These are fatty acids found in coconut which are used in many cosmetic products. If sensitised to cocamide DEA you will still be able to eat the fruit from a coconut without any reactions.
Coconut is a low FODMAP food. FODMAP
stands for F
olyols. Foods high in FODMAPs can cause symptoms of food intolerance, affecting the gastro intestinal system and this can be mistaken for a true IgE food allergy.
Coconut contains a moderate amount of salicylates
. Salicylates have the potential to cause worsening of asthma, swelling, itching and hives as well as food intolerance symptoms in people who are sensitive to salicylates.
You can read more about Food Intolerances
on the dedicated Food Intolerance Page.
Coconut allergy is most commonly associated with contact urticaria (hives or welts) and atopic dermatitis.
Vicilin-like proteins are usually classified as food proteins, other foods containing a similarly shaped protein are peanuts, cashews, pecan, hazelnut, walnut, pistachio, soya beans, sesame seeds, buckwheat and mung beans.
Allergen Encyclopedia - Coconut
DermNet NZ - Coconut Diethanolamide Allergy
Anaphylaxis Campaign - Coconut
Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology & Allergy - Coconut
Allergy information for: Coconut (Cocos nucifera)
FODMAPedia - Coconut
ATP Science - Salicylate Foods
Articles and Journals
Prevalence and Burden of Coconut Allergy in the United States, 2023
Occupational Skin Dermatitis among Healthcare Workers Associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Review of the Literature, 2023
Clinical features of children with coconut allergy and its sIgE profiling using immunoblot analysis, 2022
Occupational allergic contact dermatitis to sodium metabisulfite in shredded coconut, 2022
Analysis of Protein Sequence Identity, Binding Sites, and 3D Structures Identifies Eight Pollen Species and Ten Fruit Species with High Risk of Cross-Reactive Allergies, 2022
Anaphylaxis and allergy to coconut: An Australian pediatric case series, 2020
Coconut Allergy Revisited, 2017
Association of tree nut and coconut sensitizations, 2016
Allergic contact dermatitis caused by cocamide diethanolamine, 2016
Mining Novel Allergens from Coconut Pollen Employing Manual De Novo Sequencing and Homology-Driven Proteomics, 2015
Occupational allergic contact dermatitis caused by coconut fatty acids diethanolamide, 2014
Cross-reactivity between coconut and hazelnut proteins in a patient with coconut anaphylaxis, 2004
Systemic allergic reaction to coconut (Cocos nucifera) in 2 subjects with hypersensitivity to tree nut and demonstration of cross-reactivity to legumin-like seed storage proteins: new coconut and walnut food allergens, 1999
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