Is Coconut a Nut?
This is a frequency asked question! I understand where the concern lies as ‘nuts’ are a classified top eight allergen group. Within in these identified allergens nuts are broken down into two:
- Treenuts (including almonds, cashews, macadamias).
My previous blog discusses allergic responses in more detail which you may find helpful. For babies starting solids the latest advise for all infants to be given allergenic solid foods in the first year of life (including those at high risk of allergy). This is where understanding if coconut is a nut is important!
The major nutritional composition of coconut (100g) is:
Fat = 33g
Saturated Fat = 30g
Carbohydrate = 15g
Sugar (fructose) = 6g
Protein = 3.3g
Fibre = 9g
Potassium = 356mg
Benefits of Coconut
- It is a nutrient dense wholefood.
- Important source of fat – healthy fat – I discuss this in all my books.
- Crucial long lasting a fuel source
- Helps with immunity
- Supportive of gut flora and function
- Can help with constipation (see The Nourished Toddler)
Is Coconut a Nut?
When I asked this as a question on Instagram this was the following response:
When classifying a food we look at:
*How it grows botanically
*Culinary use (how it is eaten)
The big clue to this question lies in the nutritional composition – majority fat – but the simple answer is:
No! Coconut is not a nut!
The way I would encourage you to look at a coconut is the similar to a tomato – interestingly enough both a fruit (botanically). While the coconut does have a hard shell, nutritionally it is primarily a source of fat. This is also how it is used from a culinary perspective.
Is Coconut an Allergen?
No it is not. It has very little protein which is what the auto-immune system reacts to in an allergic response.
Is Coconut Safe for Babies?
Yes! Right from the start of solids. As it is not an allergen it can be mixed with other foods straight away. It is a great source healthy fat and can be included in several ways:
Desiccated coconut in baby puree (this is from my Baby & Toddler Cookbook):
Coconut milk/cream in curry – this can also be made into baby food. Both our Dr Julie's Kitchen curry slow cooker mixes use this.
Coconut flour as a grain-free flour - for example in these baby-led-weaning muffins.
Bliss balls – lockdown balls (on the blog shared here).
More help in person – upcoming events!
Dr Julie x