Is Avocado a Nut?

We’re all familiar with the avocado, its tough dark green outing, creamy light green interior, and the signature giant seed on the inside. Avocados offer plenty of health benefits and can be eaten in a variety of ways, but what exactly is an avocado?

A nut is defined as a fruit that has a hard outer shell, and a kernel on the inside that is usually edible. Botanically, when the shell of a food opens and exposes an edible part, the food is not considered a nut. 

Avocados grow in trees, like nuts. While it’s an easy assumption to make, and a common misconception, avocados are not classified as nuts, and instead they are classified botanically as fruits. Specifically, avocados are berries, but they are not nuts.   

What is a Tree Nut?

As you could probably guess, tree nuts are simply nuts that grow in trees. Tree nuts have a hard exterior and a distinctive interior seed, or kernel. Often, the outer part of tree nuts are not edible. This is not true for avocado, as the outer skin is not only safe to eat but also is healthy.

The inside of tree nuts is leathery in texture, and often tough, but not as tough as the exterior. Again, this does not apply to avocados, or fruits in general, where the interior is much softer. Some examples of tree nuts include cashews, pecans, walnuts, and almonds.

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What is an Avocado?

Botanists define avocados as a large berry with a single seed. It may be unexpected to hear that an avocado is classified as a fruit, as avocados are much less sweet than most other fruits, but they fall right into the same definition as other fruits.

What is a Fruit?

Botanically, a fruit is defined as a mature, ripened ovary of a plant, in addition to the contents of the ovary. Fruits are only formed from one ovary. Typically, fruits contain seeds, which explains the avocado’s interior seed. 

Fruits grow off of plants that bear the seeds, which eventually flower into the fruits that we are familiar with. Although avocados grow off of a tree, they fit the botanical definition of a fruit and not a nut.

What is Classified as a Tree Nut?

A tree nut is any nut that grows off of a tree. This may mislead people to believe that avocados are grouped in with tree nuts, as they do grow off of trees. But, with most tree nuts the outer part is not edible. This is not true for avocados, as the avocado skin is often recommended to be consumed for health benefits.

Tree nuts are also known to have a tough, leathery interior. This also does not fit for avocados, as the inside of an avocado is very creamy. Furthermore, most times tree nuts require some sort of preparation, like roasting. Fruits, including avocados, can be eaten raw.         

Can You Eat Avocados Even If You Have a Nut Allergy?  

If you have a nut allergy, you can safely consume avocados. Despite their appearance resembling a giant nut, avocados are fruits, and the pit on the inside of them is a seed. So, if your only allergy is nuts, don’t worry about avocados.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I be allergic to avocados?

It isn’t super common, but avocado allergies do exist. Avocados are high in histamines, so people who are allergic to them may have oral allergies that cause an unpleasant sensation in the mouth. 

When one has a tree nut allergy, it is likely that they are allergic to more than one type of tree nut. This is not true for avocados, though. For instance, being allergic to avocados does not mean that you are allergic to all fruits.

Which nuts are not tree nuts?

Not every nut is a tree nut, and there are some nuts that people with tree nut allergies can safely consume. Although, the list of nuts that they can eat safely is shorter than the list of nuts that they cannot.

Some nuts that are not tree nuts include nutmeg, water chestnut, shea nuts, and butternut squash. Peanuts, though they have the word “nut” in their name, are actually legumes, and can be consumed by those with tree nut allergies.

What foods to avoid if you are allergic to tree nuts?

A tree nut allergy entails a lot more than simply not eating raw nuts. Many baked goods and flours contain tree nuts, in addition to some candies, ice creams, and sauces. 

If you have a tree nut allergy it is important to read the ingredients list before you consume something, because tree nuts are an ingredient in more foods than you may have previously thought.

Final Thoughts

Although the appearance of an avocado is resemblant of a giant nut, avocados are classified as fruits. They grow from a tree, but they are not tree nuts. 

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This is mainly because the outside and inside of avocado can both be eaten safely, and the interior is much softer and creamier than the exterior. Those who suffer from tree nut allergies can consume avocados, as an avocado is not a nut, but rather a fruit.