Nut Allergy

Living with a nut allergy can seem pretty daunting. Not only do you have to avoid eating nuts such as peanuts and tree nuts, but also avoid the vast range of food products that incorporate nuts or nut oils into their ingredients. Peanuts are not technically a ‘nut’ but are actually part of the legume family. They have a similar protein in them however, that cause the same allergic reaction as tree nuts (such as almonds, pistachios, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, chestnuts, walnuts). Listed below are some of the most common foodstuffs to avoid if you suffer from a nut allergy.

Baked Goods

Baked foods such as cakes and cookies. Although the list of ingredients may not contain nuts, it is possible the product was produced in an environment where nuts are used.


Although nuts may not be used to make sweets, they may have been made in a factory where nuts are used.

Ready Meals & Sauces

It is very important to read labels on ready meals as nuts are often used to flavour and thicken sauces

Ethnic Cuisine

Many cultures use nuts in their recipes, such as Thai, Indian and Mediterranean. If you are dining out make sure to enquire about the presence of nuts in dishes and alert restaurant staff to the fact you have an allergy to nuts. If they cannot guarantee nut free dishes then it is best to eat elsewhere.


Be careful when using cooking oils or salad dressings that contain oils. Many oils such as peanut or walnut oil may also cause an allergic response. The process used to produce nut oils often neutralizes the protein which causes the allergic response and for some it is ok to use these. But for many it will still set off an immune reaction.

The severity of symptoms depends solely on an individual’s sensitivity to nuts. In mild cases a simple rash might occur. In severe cases the airways become restricted and the heart rate can increase to such a degree that anaphylactic shock takes place. If immediate action is not taken then death will quickly follow. Most people with a known nut allergy will carry around a single dose of adrenaline in a small syringe type device called an epi-pen. This can be injected should the accidental ingestion of nuts occur and will ultimately save the person’s life. Additional symptoms can include an itchy feeling in the mouth and throat, hives, and feelings of light headedness.

It is of utmost importance to always read the labels on food you are buying. Look for alerts on packaging that state the product was produced in an environment where nuts are also used, or that traces of nuts might be present. If a food label cannot state it is nut free, it is safer not to buy it and take the risk of nuts being present. Although not always an easy task, the best way to avoid an allergic reaction to nuts is to prepare as much of your own food as possible, check with restaurant staff before eating for possible nut contamination and always carefully read the labels on any food products you purchase.

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Guide to Food Allergies