Walnuts, Doritos and the Paleo Diet

Walnuts are an important part of the Paleo diet, but soon we may have to go to a doctor to get a prescription to buy them. In these topsy turvy days of health and food labeling the FDA has decided that walnuts are a drug and that Doritos® are a health food. How can this be so, you ask? Aren’t walnuts touted for their omega 3s which can help reduce the incidence of heart disease? And aren’t Doritos® filled with ingredients such as mono sodium glutamate and damaged oils like soy and corn oil? The answer is yes to both.

The health benefits of walnuts may be the problem that the FDA has with them. Diamond Foods has labeled their walnuts according to research on the health benefits of omega 3s.

Walnuts in the shell. Photo by flydime on wikipedia.org

A company which sells walnuts has been told they are dealing in drugs because their packaging suggests health benefits which the Food and Drug Administration has not approved, it has been reported.

A fiercely-worded letter from the agency allegedly insisted Diamond Foods, from Stockton, California, remove the health claims or send off for a new drug application if it did not wish to be closed down.

The nut company has been selling its products with packaging which states the omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.

But while the claims are backed up by research, including 35 published medical papers supporting assertions that eating walnuts improves vascular health and may reduce risk of heart attacks, the FDA is said to have insisted the company is ‘misbranding’ its foods because the ’product bears health claims that are not authorised by the FDA’.

The letter from the FDA reportedly stated: ’We have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease.’

It went on to emphasize that the nuts are ‘misbranded’ because they ’are offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners.

‘Therefore, adequate directions for use cannot be written so that a layperson can use these drugs safely for their intended purposes.’

Critics have slammed the FDA for the supposedly ‘tyrannical’ manner in which they have accused the walnut sellers of dealing in drugs. Click here to read more…

On the other hand, junk food which contains ingredients that are KNOWN to cause health issues, are labeled as healthy. If you look on the Frito-Lay website you find this statement:

Frito-Lay snacks start with real farm-grown ingredients.  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 B6, and Phosphorous – all necessary for healthy bones, teeth, nerves and muscles.

And it’s not just the obvious ingredients. Our all-natural sunflower, canola, corn and soybean oils are considered to be healthier oils by the FDA because they contain good polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which help lower total and LDL “bad” cholesterol and maintain HDL “good” cholesterol levels. They also contain <20% of the bad saturated fat, which raises LDL, cholesterol and 0g of trans fat. Even salt, when eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet, provides sodium which is essential for the body.

I won’t go into the problems with this statement, except to point out that the FDA has no trouble with Frito-Lay’s claims about their snack foods (bolded for emphasis). Below is a picture of their ingredients for one of their most popular flavors of Doritos®. The image is rather hard to read so I have typed out the list below the image.

Doritos(R) Nacho Cheese nutrition panel













Ingredients for Nacho Cheese Doritos®: Whole corn, vegetable oil (contains one or more of the following: corn, soybean, and/or sunflower oil), Salt, cheddar cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes) maltodextrin, wheat flour, whey, monosodium glutamate, buttermilk solids, Romano cheese from cow’s milk (part-skim cow’s milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes) whey protein concentrate, onion powder, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil, corn flour, disodium phosphate, lactose, natural and artificial flavor, dextrose, tomato powder, spices, lactic acid, artificial color (including yellow 6, yellow 5, red 40), citric acid, sugar, garlic powder, red and green bell pepper powder, sodium caseinate, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, nonfat milk solids, whey protein isolate, and corn syrup solids.

One of this things that Frito-Lay makes a big deal about is that their foods do not contain trans-fats, and yet, what do we see on this list, but partially hydrogenated oil. This so called healthy food also contains MSG, toxic dyes and agents that enhance MSG. Can Doritos® really be called a healthy food? The FDA accuses Diamond Foods of “mis-branding” their walnuts with proven health claims, but lets Frito-Lay get away with labeling a food as healthy when it is obviously not.

We can all agree that in the Paleo Diet, Doritos® are not an acceptable food. And in reality Doritos® are not an acceptable food for anyone, regardless of Frito-Lay’s claims. Undoubtedly, Diamond Foods will be compelled to change their label so that no health claims are made about the benefits of walnuts. We wouldn’t want them to mislead anyone into thinking that walnuts are good for you, unlike Doritos®.


Did you enjoy this?

If you liked this article, enter your email below and we will send you a brief and focused newsletter every Thursday morning. No fluff, no spam, no advertising. Just the best of the best recipes, articles, and news.