How to follow a vegan diet with nut allergies

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  • Nuts are often a staple of plant-based diets, commonly found in dairy products and vegan proteins.
  • But you can still be a vegan with a nut allergy by relying on exchanges like seeds and avocado.
  • These foods can provide important nutrients for a plant-based diet, according to a dietitian.
  • Visit the Insider home page for more stories.

If you are allergic to tree nuts, a

vegan diet
can be a challenge. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts are found in everything from vegan dairy alternatives to protein powders.

But it is possible to have a healthy plant-based diet without nuts, according to Robin Foroutan, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. By replacing nuts with options like seeds and avocados, you can meet your nutritional needs while sticking to a vegan diet.

Don’t skimp on the seeds

One of the reasons nuts are a staple of vegan diets is because they are a great plant-based source of healthy fats, as well as fiber, according to Foroutan.

Instead, try using seeds instead, including pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, hemp, and chia. These are rich in nutrients also found in nuts, such as

magnesium
, manganese, thiamine and sometimes copper and

Vitamin E
.

“The seeds are great sources of minerals and healthy fats and can be used in the same way as nuts,” Foroutan said. She suggests using sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter, or tahini instead of cashew-based spreads.

Another option for healthy fats and fibers is avocado, which also contains a high dose of potassium, folic acid, riboflavin, and vitamins E and C.

Coconuts could be a fair game

It is often assumed that people with nut allergies also cannot tolerate coconuts, as the name suggests, but that is not always the case, Foroutan said.

“It’s worth getting tested for a coconut allergy rather than assuming you’re allergic,” she said.

If you are able to eat coconut, products like coconut oil, coconut milk, and coconut shavings can be useful in all kinds of vegan cooking. Use it as a creamy foundation for vegan desserts, smoothies and curries, or as a chewy addition to stir-fries or stews.

For protein, go for foods like soybeans and oats

Contrary to popular belief, staples like peanut or almond butter aren’t actually a high protein option for vegan diets.

This is because nuts don’t have a lot of protein per calorie, although they are a great source of calories and healthy fats. A 165-calorie serving of almonds contains about six grams of protein. In comparison, a serving of tofu contains seven grams of protein and 63 calories.

If you’re looking for plant-based protein sources, look for foods like chickpeas and lentils, or soy products like tofu, tempeh, and oats.

But be sure to check with your allergist before introducing any new foods to your diet.

Consider Supplements and Seek Expert Help

Finally, if you’re on a diet that excludes certain food groups, it’s always a good idea to consult an expert to make sure you’re not missing out on essential nutrients, Foroutan said.

Vegans in particular may also consider supplements, especially

zinc
, B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, which can be difficult to get enough in plant-based foods.

“Working with a dietitian can be very helpful in avoiding some of the potential nutritional pitfalls of a plant-only diet,” Foroutan said.



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