Q: I´ve been eating lots of flax seeds, cause I know that it contains Omega 3. But I jus found out that there is a naturally occurring poison in flax seeds, and that it is not good to consume more than 2 Tablespoons a day. I usually make and eat lots of flax crackers! Should I think about limiting my intake of flax seeds?
A: Like most anything we ingest, it can be either medicine or poison depending on the variables related to it. Flax seeds included. Here’s some info to help you know the difference, and understand these variables:
- Immature flax seeds are poisonous, only consume flax that’s designed for human consumption.
- Because the oil is subject to easily going rancid, it’s very important to be sure it’s cold pressed and never heat or pressure processed in it’s manufacturing, or sold on a shelf without refrigeration (very common in Europe!). It also needs to be refrigerated from the time its made, through all stages of storage (including how its transported), before consumed. The liver cannot process oxidized oil gone rancid (or seeds), and inevitably it ends up clogging the liver and stagnating the blood. This can lead to serious health problems, skin, digestive, and emotional issues. The fat content of the seeds – and all nuts and seeds – can easily go rancid quickly, no matter the climate (it’s just the nature of fats). Best to keep them in the fridge, and buy only from reputable sources you trust that have stored their stock in cool, vacuumed sealed places before you purchased it. One more thing, the oil and seeds don’t always smell bad when they are rancid – best to buy small quantities and use them quickly, and never keep oil past 30 days.
- Only buy organic, many seeds and oils contain harmful pesticides and chemical residue which will only compound a rancid seed/oil problem.
- Flax seeds can be difficult to digest for people who experience bloating and problems with digestion. If you experience bloating, gas, or discomfort in general – and after eating them – best to limit your consumption. And be sure to drink plenty of water with them as they swell at least 5 times their size in your intestines – that requires lots of water. If your body has to borrow on its own water, and there’s not enough, it could get quite uncomfortable.
- Some people are allergic to them, common symptoms are itchy eyes, stuffy nose, shortness of breath, nausea, and hives – for some this can be severe.
- Some women report hormonal affects from eating them as well, such as menstrual changes, and some cases even report fibroids, ovarian issues, and even cancer. Pregnant women are warned to be cautious with them.
- Omega-3 fatty acids may put blood sugar levels on the rise, so diabetics should also be cautious consuming flax. People with bleeding disorders or taking blood thinning medications may also be at risk because flax seeds may elevate the risk of excessive bleeding because it decreases clotting.
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