Interesting study about allergic cross reaction between coconut and "legumin-like seed storage proteins"

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 29, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Hi hackers,

Have you seen this study?

I was always wondering why I can't tolerate even trace amounts of coconut products. My stomach just didn't like them. Then I discovered that I have a similar reaction to olive oil and the only explanation seemed to be salicylate sensitivity, since both are very rich in salicylates.

But yesterday I ate a whole jar of green olives....and nothing happened at all!

After some research and friendly support of you paleo hackers I found out that (especially cheap) olive oil is often diluted with hazelnut oil, or other nut oils.

And this led me to this study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10359903

Well it had neither a control group, nor a lot of test subjects, nevertheless it's very interesting:

"The reduced coconut protein at 35 kd was previously shown to be immunologically similar to soy glycinin (legumin group of seed storage proteins). The clinical reactivity in these 2 patients is likely due to cross-reacting IgE antibodies primarily directed against walnut, the original clinical allergy reported, and most likely to a walnut legumin-like protein."

I'm allergic to dairy (I suppose BSA) and have a cross reaction to soy. According to this study it might be possible to have a cross reaction to coconut or legumes as well.

That was a real punch for me, it seems that the most hated legume (soy) and one of the most loved paleo foods (coconut) actually share some protein similarities.

I don't intend to scare anybody and I admire those who do well with coconut products. But for some people like me with an allergic background, it is important to know that certain cross reactions exist.

This is something I think is important to know, because I think there are lots of people out there that really struggle with coconut. Get GERD after eating it etc. And the standard response is: "yeah, typical die-off reaction, keep going.."

On the other hand the study says: "Coconut allergy in patients with tree nut allergy is rare; these are the first 2 patients ever reported, and therefore there is no general indication to advise patients with tree nut allergy to avoid coconut."

So it might not be the biggest problem ever ;)



on January 31, 2012
at 01:48 PM

Thanks for this insights!



on January 29, 2012
at 04:29 PM

Thanks for stepping in! :-)



on January 29, 2012
at 04:10 PM

Turned into a question for you. Please read FAQs. Thanks!



on January 29, 2012
at 03:00 PM

Thomy, thanks for posting this! I was wondering if there could be something more than the salicylate problem.



on January 29, 2012
at 12:28 PM

Coconut gives me indigestion mainly.

  • E2b72f1912f777917d8ee6b7fba43c26

    asked by

  • Views
  • Last Activity
    1429D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

3 Answers



on January 31, 2012
at 01:16 AM

The thing to remember about antibodies is that there's loads of cross-reactivity taking place all the time. Most of it is quite mild, but it can be a strong cross-reactivity. Say the coconut protein produces an allergic response and antibodies are generated by your body, and the coconut protein has substructures A, B, C, and D (these are completely arbitrary, and only for illustration of cross-reacting antibodies). Anti-coconut antibodies could be developed for one, any or all of these substructures. Now walnut protein has substructures D, E, F and G. Substructure D happens to be similar between coconut and walnut proteins. If you happened to produce antibodies against the substructure D of coconut it will also have some reactivity towards the walnut protein.

This is why we hear of autoimmune disorders, it's a cross reactivity of a true allergy with some endogenous tissue (thyroid, transglutaminase, etc...)



on January 31, 2012
at 01:48 PM

Thanks for this insights!



on January 31, 2012
at 12:47 AM

Thanks for this post. I, like you, have been tinkering with eliminating salicylates and other highly allergenic foods. I react highly to coconut and olive oil, but experimenting with pure olives gave me the same symptoms olive oil does (shivers, sleep problems), so salycylates could still be my main culprit. I have awful reactions to meat or eggs that are soy fed, so that could maybe explain my reaction to coconut products but not to pure olives.



on January 30, 2012
at 06:49 PM

I am super allergic to soy. I have even had to seek out sources of soy free eggs/chicken/pork. I have a range of symptoms depending on the exposure level. (the highest being go to the hospital in an ambulance). I eat a ton of coconut products and have had zero of the same symptoms from it.

So at least for me -coconut isn't filling the same receptor as soy.

It always great to have studies like this brought up though -it could be the key someone is looking for to improving their health.

Answer Question

Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!