- Nuts are often staples of plant-based diets, commonly found in vegan dairy and protein.
- But you can still be vegan with a nut allergy by relying on swaps like seeds and avocado.
- These foods can supply important nutrients for a plant-based diet, according to a dietitian.
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If you’ve got a nut allergy, a
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, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. By swapping out nuts for options like seeds and avocados, you can meet your nutritional needs while sticking to a vegan diet.
Don’t skimp on seeds
One reason nuts are a staple of vegan diets is that they’re an excellent plant-based source of healthy fat, as well as fiber, according to Foroutan.
As a substitute, try reaching for seeds instead, including pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, hemp and chia. These are high in nutrients also found in tree nuts, such as
, manganese, thiamine, and sometimes copper and
“Seeds are great sources of minerals and healthy fats and can be used in similar ways to nuts,” Foroutan said. She suggests using sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter, or tahini instead of cashew-based spreads.
Another option for healthy fat and fiber is avocado, which also packs a hefty dose of potassium, folate, riboflavin, and vitamins E and C.
Coconuts might be fair game
It’s often assumed that people with nut allergies also can’t tolerate coconuts, per the name, but that isn’t always the case, Foroutan said.
“It’s worth it to get tested for a coconut allergy rather than assume you’re allergic,” she said.
If you’re able to eat coconut, products like coconut oil, coconut milk, and coconut shreds 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 add-in to stir-fry or stew.
For protein, opt for foods like soy and oats
Contrary to popular belief, staples like peanut or almond butter aren’t actually a protein-packed option for vegan diets.
That’s because nuts don’t have much protein per calorie, though they’re a great source of calories and healthy fats. One 165 calorie portion of almonds has about six grams of protein. In comparison, a serving of tofu has seven grams of protein and 63 calories.
But make sure to check with your allergist before introducing new foods into your diet.
Consider supplements and seek expert assistance
Finally, if you’re on any diet that excludes certain food groups, it’s always a good idea to consult with an expert to make sure you’re not missing out on essential nutrients, Foroutan said.
Vegans specifically may want to consider supplements too, particularly
, B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, which can be hard to get enough of in plant-based foods.
“Working with a dietitian can be really helpful to avoid some of the potential nutritional pitfalls of a plants-only diet,” Foroutan said.
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