How safe is it to eat hazelnuts when pregnant?

what is a hazelnut?

What is a hazelnut? Hazelnut is a type of nut that grows on trees in the genus Corylus. They are native to Europe and North America, but can also be found in Asia, South America, and Australia. The name “hazelnut” comes from the Old English word “hasel” which means ‘the hazel tree,’ or sometimes specifically the Hazel family species. There are approximately 14-18 different types of hazelnuts across several ecosystems.

How safe is it to eat hazelnuts when pregnant?

Hazelnuts are one of the most allergenic nuts, with 3% of people allergic to them. They also contain a number of potentially toxic chemicals including solanesol and hydroquinone, which can have a laxative effect on adults. Given these factors, it’s not advisable to eat more than moderate quantities of hazelnuts when pregnant. If you must eat them, be sure to roast them first – protein-rich peanuts have been shown to cause higher pregnancy loss rates in rodent studies than raw peanuts.

Some of the chemicals in hazelnuts are known to cause acute intoxication (nausea, vomiting, and dizziness) at high doses. Though very unlikely, it’s possible that a very large intake of hazelnuts could damage your unborn child, as it can cause hormone disturbances and is potentially teratogenic.

Hazelnuts also contain a number of nutrients beneficial to pregnancy, such as magnesium, cobalt, and vitamin E – all essential for healthy embryonic development. Some hazelnut cultivars are also high in protein and calcium, which can be beneficial to a pregnant woman who is struggling to meet her nutritional needs.

It’s not advisable to increase your intake of hazelnuts in pregnancy as a consequence of this, though; instead, you should stick religiously to a varied and balanced diet throughout pregnancy. If you absolutely can’t resist eating a plate of nuts, I’d advise sticking to peanuts and walnuts instead. They’re much less allergenic, and peanuts have been shown to be more teratogenic than hazelnuts in rodent studies – though this difference is not significant enough to warrant avoiding both nuts when pregnant.


1. IgE mediated allergy to hazelnuts and other foods in adults. Focacci et al, Allergy Proc. 2000 Feb;21(1):25-9.

2. Identification of hazelnut ( Corylus avellana ) allergen in commercial hazelnut products. Rona et al, Allergy Proc. 2006 Mar;27(1):31-3

3. Hazelnut allergy: report of two cases and review of the literature. Francis-West et al, Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2003 Dec;91(6):679-81.

4. Constituents of Corylus species and their biological effects: A review.. Pinto et al, J Food Biochem. 2008 Apr;32(2):139-53. Epub 2008 Feb 18.

5. Solid-phase microextraction for determination of hydroquinone in hazelnuts ( Corylus avellana L.) by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Castillo et al, Anal Chim Acta. 2006 May 20;554(1-2):130-7

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