FDA: Walnuts are Drugs

By /

OK, my last post on the food=drugs confusion was about Cheerios, but this one is even “nuttier”. This week FDA sent a warning letter to Diamond Foods for their health claims about walnuts. Now walnuts (like many nuts) are superfoods, rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids, low in carbs, and high in protein. However, the FDA now considers any “health claim” to define a drug. Meaning that if someone advertises that anything is good for you without first seeking FDA approval, then the agency has this interesting habit of calling that “thing” a drug. The problem with this definition is that pretty much everything involving health then comes under federal agency control, including walnuts. Obviously, the makers of walnuts can’t afford a 1 billion dollar new drug application through the FDA, nor would there be any societal benefit from Diamond Foods taking this path. In fact, it would guarantee that the bag of walnuts you pick up on Thanksgiving would have to cost $1,000. Now if the maker of certain health foods isn’t allowed to wax poetic about the health benefits of the food that it sells, who is supposed to educate the public about these health benefits? I guess only the agency and only when that food has passed double blind placebo controlled trials that nobody can afford to fund (unless you’re willing to pay drug prices for your walnuts). Now walnuts do have a bunch of research to support that may help improve heart health. Some interesting studies (adapted from Life Extension):

-The March 4, 1993 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine published the first clinical study showing significant reductions in dangerous LDL and improvement in the lipoprotein profile in response to moderate consumption of walnuts. 6 Later studies revealed that walnuts improve endothelial function in ways that are independent of cholesterol reduction.

-One study published by the American Heart Association on April 6, 2004 showed a 64% improvement in a measurement of endothelial function when walnuts were substituted for other fats in a Mediterranean diet.

So where is this headed? Ultimately a show down between the natural foods industry and the FDA. Just “nutty” in my opinion…

Join us for a free Regenexx webinar.
Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

If you have questions or comments about this blog post, please email us at [email protected]

NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

Get Blog Updates by Email

By submitting the form, you are agreeing that you read and consent to our Privacy Policy. We may also contact you via email, phone, and other electronic means to communicate information about our products and services. We do not sell, or share your information to third party vendors.

Category: Latest News
Copyright © Regenexx 2021. All rights reserved.



9035 Wadsworth Pkwy #1000
Westminster, CO 80021


*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.