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The FDA Says Walnuts Are Illegal Drugs?

I am an avid reader of the magazine Life Extension. I find their articles compelling, no-nonsense and their research impeccable.

In one of their issues, I read an article that made my skin crawl, my hair stand on end and my rage boil over like a too-long simmering stew.

Wait til you hear this one!

Diamond Foods, Inc., one of the largest distributors of walnuts in America, decided that it would be a good idea to post some of the scientific data that extols the health benefits of eating walnuts on their website. Cool, right? The more solid information we have about foods and their impact on our health, the more informed choices we can make.

Well, apparently the FDA doesn’t think so.

According to the article in Life Extension, “The FDA determined that walnuts sold by Diamond Foods cannot be legally marketed because the walnuts ‘are not generally regarded as safe and effective’ for the medical conditions referenced on Diamond’s website. (You can read the whole FDA letter to Diamond on www.lef.org.)

What?!

Diamond Foods, under threat of government intervention, removed the health claims from their site.

Hold on a minute! Way back before we knew better, we used to say that nuts were unhealthy because of their high fat content, but now we know…and have scientifically proven (in the last 18 years) that consuming walnuts sharply decreases the incidence of heart disease. Walnuts contain a unique blend of polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3, that along with other compounds have demonstrated cardiovascular benefits.

In 1993, the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine published findings that showed results from the first clinical study of the effects of walnuts on health. Significant reduction in LDL levels, as well as improvement in the lipo-protein profile resulted from moderate consumption of walnuts.

Later studies by this same journal revealed that consumption of walnuts led to improvement in endothelial function, independent of cholesterol, a key factor in the prevention of atherosclerosis progression.

A 2004 study published by the American Heart Association revealed a 64% improvement in a measurement of endothelial function when walnuts were substituted for other fats in a Mediterranean style diet.

The United States National Library of Medicine database contains no less than 35 peer-reviewed published papers supporting claims that consuming walnuts improves vascular strength and may reduce the risk of heart attack.

Now here’s where it gets weird.

Frito Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, Inc. makes a line of products that sell more than $12 billion each year and include: Lay’s Potato Chips, Doritos, Tostitos, Cheetos and Frito’s. Now you may be thinking that these packaged junk foods are the furthest thing from healthy for you, right?

Well, the FDA has no problem at all with their website making health claims associated with eating any variety of their chips. The website states, in part: “You might be surprised at how much good stuff goes into your favorite snack. Good stuff like potatoes which naturally contain vitamin C and essential minerals. Or corn, one of the world’s most popular grains, packed with thiamin, vitamin B-6, and phosphorus-all necessary for healthy bones, teeth, nerves and muscles.” Seriously?

But here’s the real kicker: “Our all natural sunflower, corn and soybean oils contain good polyunsaturated fats, which help lower total and LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and maintain HDL ‘good’ cholesterol levels, which can support a healthy heart.”

Based on Frito Lay’s claims, it sounds like chips should be on every table daily! Who needs walnuts, green tea or pomegranates when the good people at PepsiCo have put all the nutrients we need for heart health into chips…and fried them!

I feel like I am losing my mind! Let’s get this straight. Natural walnuts cannot make scientifically proven health claims on a website, but chips…chips…can make claims that the oil they fry their potatoes in can “support a healthy heart?”

The saddest thing about this nonsense is that small companies will stop investing in innovative thinking and research if they think they will be shut down. Bureaucratic tyranny from the FDA will stifle the access people have to good information that will inform the choices they make. And with more and more Americans leaning toward foods that can support health, this is bad news.

But we can fight back. Even $12 billion in sales cannot stand up to the American public and its ability to effect change. We can fight this and demand truth in labeling and in advertising so that we are not sold a bill of goods, but are able to get accurate information we can use to make choices that support health and wellness.

Log onto www.lef.org/lac. This site enables you to conveniently email your representative and ask that he or she sponsor the ‘Free Speech About Science Act,’ which protects basic free speech rights, ends scientific censorship and enables the natural health product industry to share reviewed scientific findings with the public.

With facts, we can fight back. Let’s not let special interest groups and giant corporations continue to exert influence over the government agencies that are supposed to protect our collective health for their financial gain.

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