Flax seeds: The Good and The Bad

by Ed

Ground flax seeds are a great nutritional supplement to most people’s diet. Flax oil is not.

The Good:

  • Flax is high in ALA, an essential fatty acid that has some health benefits.

  • Flax is high in protein

  • Flax is high in lignans, a phytonutrient that protects against breast cancer and other estrogen related cancers.

  • Eating ground flax seeds slows the growth of prostate cancer.

  • Flax is a good source of many vitamins.

  • Flax improves cardiovascular and colon health.

The Bad:

  • Most of the benefits of ALA are only realized after being converted to EPA and DHA, which the human body does very poorly. Fish oils are a much better source of these fatty acids.

  • The oils in flax seeds go rancid very quickly. Flax oil is almost useless for this reason. If you use ground flax seeds, it is best to use them immediately after grinding. Otherwise store them in an airtight, opaque container, in the refrigerator.

  • Flax seed oil actually increases the risk of prostate cancer. This may be due to an excess of ALA in the body. Ground flax seeds do not seem to have this problem.

If you are going to eat flax seeds, the ideal amount is about two tablespoons a day, of ground flax seeds. Although flax oil is very unstable, it seems that the seeds are much less so. Apparently it is ok to eat flax seeds after cooking them. People who find raw flax seeds to be too laxative, have no problem with eating them cooked. So put them in muffins or sprinkle them raw on your cereal or salad.


1 JD 03.31.07 at 9:09 pm

Hi Ed;
Very interesting insights. Thanks, JD

2 Mehdi 05.12.07 at 1:11 pm

Most people take flax oil for its omega 3 content. Might be better to switch to fish oil in that case.

I’ve noticed what you say: flax oil is very unstable. Most bottles last only a month before the taste starts to change.

Fish oil for omega 3, flax seed if you need the fiber content.

Good info Edward!

3 nubin 03.17.11 at 11:11 pm

Dear sir/madam,
i am taking flux seed four table spoon daily for hair growth.and some time i feel breathing problem, throat tighting also. is it any side effect will be come or not.
please give the details.
i looking forward ur reply.

Thanks regards,
Nubin jacob

4 Ed 03.18.11 at 7:48 am

Hi Nubin,

It sounds like you probably have an allergy to flax. Some people do. I suggest you find a different source for those nutrients.


5 Blah Moe 08.31.12 at 10:53 am

Saying flax and muffin in the same sentence just negated your credibility.

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