Walnuts are a great snack to enjoy around the holidays. They contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They reduce inflammation. They help you stay slim, fit, and mentally sharp. And they even help protect you against diseases like cancer and heart disease.
But a few years ago, Diamond Foods–one of the largest nut companies in the world–made the mistake of mentioning a few of these health benefits on the company’s website. And on their walnut packages. Specifically, they said that omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts have been shown to have health benefits. Including a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
Of course, hundreds of solid, scientific studies confirm these benefits. So, it’s not as if Diamond Foods made claims that aren’t true. They are true. According to the best, most up-to-date scientific research.
But the scientific truth isn’t important to the FDA. Only their bureaucratic rules and regulations matter. Which frequently defy common sense as well science.
And according to their bureaucratic rules, you can only make disease claims about drugs. And all drugs must gain approval from the FDA. So, when Diamond Foods started making truthful statements about walnuts and heart disease and cancer, they got into a heap of trouble.
The FDA told Diamond Foods that if they wanted to sell their “new drug” legally in the U.S., they needed to apply for a new drug application. Yes, for walnuts.
Of course, Diamond Foods didn’t have the money to complete the extensive drug application process. So, it backed off its heart health claims. And today, you won’t find a word about walnuts and heart health on the company’s website. Which is too bad. Because the science supporting nuts is stronger than ever.
In fact, a brand new Harvard study tracked 119,000 men and women for 30 years. They found that, nut eaters decreased their risk of dying from heart disease by 29 percent. And they lowered their risk of dying from cancer by 11 percent. That’s compared to people who didn’t eat nuts,
Plus, the nut eaters had lower death rates from any cause. In fact, researchers found that eating nuts reduced mortality by 20 percent. There was also a dose-response effect. So the more nuts the subjects ate, the lower their risk of dying.
Lastly, the nut eaters also stayed slimmer compared to their peers who didn’t eat nuts.
The men and women in the study ate nuts seven or more times a week. And they ate many different kinds of nuts. Including walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and other tree nuts. (The researchers didn’t consider whether the nuts contained salt. Or if they were raw or roasted.)
Without a doubt, we have a ton of scientific evidence that absolutely establishes the many benefits of eating nuts. In fact, I just ran a quick search on the National Institutes of Health database and found 793 published scientific studies–on walnuts alone!
In 2003, the FDA itself even acknowledged that a handful of nuts a day added to a healthy diet might reduce the risk of heart disease. Yet, it doesn’t allow companies to make these claims. It’s absolutely nutty nonsense.
The FDA says their rules “protect” the consumer.
But these rules interfere with Americans’ ability to learn about healthy foods. And they stifle “healthy” competition from companies that make healthy snacks. So junk food makers with fat-laden, fried products continue to reap ever-greater profits. In addition, it helps allow the government-industrial-medical complex to continue to sell expensive drugs, devices, and procedures to those made ill by unhealthy diets.
These arcane regulations remind me of George Orwell’s chilling book 1984. Unfortunately, the U.S. government seems to think 1984 is a training manual–not a work of fiction.
Why doesn’t the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights take precedence over bureaucratic rules and regulations?
A few years ago, the company that makes POM pomegranate juice sued the Federal Trade Commission for censoring their First Amendment right to communicate truthful information to the public.
They lost the suit. But I’m encouraged that more and more companies are trying to change the system. And some folks in congress are trying to change it too.
In 2011, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced a bill called the Free Speech About Science Act. The bill aimed to “protect basic free speech rights, end censorship of science, and enable the natural health products community to share peer-reviewed scientific findings with the public.” Unfortunately, the bill never became law. But here again, I’m encouraged to hear voices speaking out against the FDA insanity.
Maybe one day Diamond Foods will be free to speak the truth about walnuts. In the meantime, keep reading the Daily Dispatch. I’ll make sure you get all the inside information the FDA wants to “protect” you from.
And keep eating those nuts! I bet you still have a nutcracker under the tree or on your mantelpiece to help you with the shells. So, get to work before the FDA tries to regulate nutcrackers as a new “medical device.”
1. “Association of Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality,” New Engl J Med 2013;369:2001-11