Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash.

What about Coconut and Nickel?

Often I’m asked what about coconut in relationship to nickel? In researching about coconut, surprisingly it tends to be outright omitted from nearly all the lists identifying foods high in nickel. Unfortunately there’s not much consistency when it comes to the research about whether or not coconut is high in nickel.

Some of us with systemic nickel allergy syndrome or SNAS can tolerate eating coconut, while others cannot or only eat it sparingly. Personally I don’t eat anything with coconut – including raw coconut, coconut flour, coconut butter, coconut water, coconut oil or coconut milk. I also don’t use cosmetic products on my skin that contain coconut. The tricky thing is many websites recommend using coconut oil as a natural remedy for treating eczema with the caveat to not to use it if you’re allergic.

The low nickel diet really is a diet of trial and error. To identify what my own body could tolerate, I eliminated everything high in nickel – including coconut – and then re-introduced coconut in my diet to see my own body’s reaction to it. Overwhelmingly my skin became inflamed when I re-introduced coconut. *However, I’m not a doctor. I write about my own experience, which is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have a severe or anaphylactic nickel allergy, I recommend you only try this elimination diet technique under a physician’s care.

I’ve always known coconuts to be fruits, not nuts as its name infers. Technically a drupe, many organizations including the US Library of Congress identify coconuts as a fruit, seed and nut. However in the US the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires under the FALCPA that coconut be labeled on all processed foods as “tree nuts,” or one of the top 8 food allergens. Many individuals allergic to tree nuts can tolerate eating coconuts, but it’s always best to consult with your physician.

While researching coconut on low-nickel diet lists (particularly FDA & Penn State Dermatology), I reached out to Dr. Matthew Zirwas, a well known Dermatologist who specializes in atopic dermatitis and nickel allergies. I informed him of my difficulty finding any reliable information about the nickel content in coconut and how many of the low nickel diet lists exclude coconut. I asked him if he was aware of any research about the nickel content in coconut? Dr. Zirwas said that he too has “not been able to find any info on potential for nickel in coconut,” but did continue to say he “[does] not tell patients to avoid it.”

In the comment section below, it would be great to hear whether or not you can eat coconut.