Nut and peanut allergies are a concern for many children and families. With 1 in every 13 children affected by a food allergy, especially a nut allergy, 2 families in every classroom are worried about what their child, and those around them, are eating due to allergy risk. Knowing what is safe and unsafe for children with allergies can be very confusing. With many ‘nut-free’ snacks for kids containing seeds, how can you know which seeds are ok?
Are Seeds Okay for Kids With a Tree Nut or Peanut Allergy?
Peanuts and tree nuts are two of the top 8 foods that account for 90% of food reactions in children alongside milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. With allergies on the rise, parents are apprehensive about food choices and avoidance of many foods becomes common, yet not always necessary. According to the Australian Society for Clinical Immunology and Allergy, an allergy to one food does not assume an allergy to another and children should be tested for that particular food (1).
Peanuts and tree nuts are often targeted foods that are mistakenly lumped together with seeds as a class amongst themselves. This grouping together can be particularly confusing for those allergic, trying to determine what they can and can’t eat. Understanding the meaning of the terms nuts, seeds and peanuts helps to clarify things and allows for a greater understanding of the foods in question.
Tree Nuts vs peanut vs Seeds
Tree nuts grow above ground and include, but are not limited to, walnut, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio, and Brazil nuts. These nuts are not to be confused or grouped together with peanuts which is a legume, or seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin seeds (2). Given that many people with tree nut or peanut allergies are able to eat seeds without any problem, grouping these proteins together lends to a potential unnecessary avoidance of nutritious and healthy snacks that children may be benefit from.
Knowledge is Key
A food allergy is a hypersensitive reaction caused by the food protein. Nut and peanut free alternatives that include seeds may be okay for your child with a tree nut or peanut allergy. The first step is to consult with your allergist to determine what individual foods should be avoided after allergy testing (3).
From there begin to educate yourself and your child. Understanding the food allergy, food sources and nutrition labels helps you to identify ingredients that will allow you to expand upon your healthy snack and meal repertoire at home.
Choose companies that guarantee nut and peanut free products manufactured in nut free facilities when choosing products with seeds such as IronKids Nutrition Snack Bars to avoid cross contamination.
For additional recommendations, consult a Registered Dietitian who specializes in food allergies regarding the addition of seeds as well as other protein alternatives to your family’s diet if there is a tree nut or peanut allergy.
For Further Reading:
- Peanut, tree nut and seed allergy -http://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/peanut-tree-nut-and-seed-allergy
- Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) – http://www.foodallergy.org/about-food-allergies
- American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology. Avoid Seeds if I have a nut allergy? http://acaai.org/resources/connect/ask-allergist/Food-Allergies
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