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Flax is Not Healthy

By June 23, 2017January 31st, 2022Nutrition Education

Flax is Not Healthy


What the Flax??? The false and ignorant articles claiming flax seeds are a “super-food” that heals all ailments reminds me of the bad information we were sold when soy first entered the mass market. Flax is NOT healthy.

First off our tradition diet never included flax. Flax was used to make rope and linen. When agriculture took over flax was grown and the seeds were opened to make oil. But not like the oil you think. It was oil for paint and varnishes! Flax oil isn’t saturated so the oils go rancid quickly.

Recently researchers in Japan managed to turn a male catfish into a female using soy. (Source here)

Consuming flax isn’t made for our guts! It is very hard to digest. Even if you decide to consume flax it is a phytoestrogen which increases bad estrogen in your body (remember there are 3 different estrogens that women can have). This phytoestrogen compound reduces sex drive, increase breast size in men and increases estrogen dominant cancers such as thyroid, uterine, ovarian, breast and prostate cancer in men. Flax is NOT healthy.

List of Phytoestrogens that you should avoid (micrograms of phytoestrogens per 100 grams): 

Flaxseed (163,133)

Chia seeds (61,055)

Soybeans (45,724)

Soy nuts (21,306)

Tofu (8,688)

Knowledge is POWER! 10 years ago I believed flax was good. To that point I once thought soy protein was good! But as we search for the truth, we will always let you know!

Here’s to healthy eating!

Flax is NOT healthy!

1 Study outlined in This article. 
2 Wanasundara, P.K., Shahidi, F., “Process-induced compositional changes of flaxseed,” Adv Exp Med Biol. 1998; 434:307-25
3 Nagao, Totani, Munkhjargal, Burenjargal, Miho, Yawata and Yuko Ojiri, “Chemical Properties and Cytotoxicity of Thermally Oxidized Oil,” J. Oleo Sci., 2008; Vol. 57, 153-160
4 Brenna, J.T., “Efficiency of conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to long chain n-3 fatty acids in man,” Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2002; 5(2):127-32
5 Burdge, G.C., Calder, P.C., “Conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to longer-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in human adults,” Reprod Nutr Dev. Sept.-Oct. 2005; 45(5):581-97
6 Gerster, H., “Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid?” Int. J. Vitam. Nutr. Res. 1998; 68(3):159-73.


“After 27 years of uncontrolled Hashimotos my thyroid is now normal without synthroid. My dr still runs rests every 6 months because she’s never seen a thyroid recover like mine has after quitting grains and sugar.” Sharron


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 Thank you for your love and support!

Maria Emmerich

Maria is a wellness expert who has helped clients follow a Ketogenic lifestyle to heal and lose weight for over 20 years. She has helped thousands of clients get healthy, get off medications and heal their bodies; losing weight is just a bonus. She is the international best selling author of several books including "Keto: The Complete Guide to Success on the Ketogenic Diet.".


  • Sami says:

    Thanks for the great info Maria, I used to grind flax and put it in my breakfast yogurt regularly, will certainly throw it away now!!

  • Kathy says:

    Please do more research. You need to understand the differences between the estrogens and the estrogen receptors. https://youtu.be/vltbg3NUSQs

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      I have done plenty of research on flax. Our bodies have three types of estogen:
      1. Ovaries produce healthy estrogen: Estradiol
      2. Fat Cells store and form unhealthy estrogen: Estrone
      3. 3rd type is produced only when pregnant: Estriol

      Flax increases Estrone, the bad estrogen. This is why I don’t recommend it.

  • Mike Beaumont says:

    Holy WOW! And here I thought I was doing good by using flax meal to make my muffins with. I guess I know what’s going in the garbage ASAP! So what can I add to my muffins besides almond flour or coconut flour to give them a little better texture?

  • Ikombe says:

    I don’t even know what is good or bad anymore! So many confusing statements on what one should eat or not eat! Out goes Flax, chia, soybeans and Tofu! At least until I can do my own research. Thanks for posting.

  • Michele says:

    Wow chia too?
    How about hemp hearts?

  • McDonna says:

    Can you please explain what the numbers mean following the items on the phytoestrogen list? And could you elaborate on why chia seeds are on the list, too? I’ve heard this before about flax, but not about chia.

    Thanks, Maria.

  • Kale says:

    Uch!… I’m so confused and tired of all this. I think I’ll just start eating bagels and pasta again!…

    • Nancy says:

      Maria does so much intensive research and shares her findings with us, not to confuse, but to inform… I find her dilligence invaluable and I trust what she passes along…
      Being confused is not a reason to go back to eating stuff that isn’t beneficial for whole life well-being…
      Keep it simple, but find recipes for making your own bagels… and make zoodles or buy and use Miracle noodles…
      decide you are going to trust a valuable resource in Maria and decide you are going to do good for you.❤️

  • Doris says:

    Where Can I find the scientific Study behind the Flax seed use and the risk of breast cancer … For me to share this inf. With my clients I need to have more inf. Also never hear about the Chia seed ..

  • Sandra Dutcher says:

    Flaxseeds need to be ground and eaten right away to truly get benefits. The way that they are eaten in oil form, whole form…are the problems. Although baking works. Great fiber as well!
    Check this out “Flaxseeds have been found in some research to be just as effective as tamoxifen in reducing the recurrence of breast cancer and can slow the growth of breast cancer in women. In one study, thirty-two women awaiting surgery for breast cancer were randomized to receive a daily muffin either with or without 25 grams of flaxseeds. Analysis of the cancerous tissue after surgery revealed that markers of tumor growth were reduced by 30–71 percent in the flaxseed group, with no change noted in the control group.” from Metabolic Approach to Cancer by Dr Nasha Winters.

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      Yes, we have three types of estogen:
      1. Ovaries produce healthy estrogen: Estradiol
      2. Fat Cells store and form unhealthy estrogen: Estrone
      3. 3rd type is produced only when pregnant: Estriol

      Flax increases Estrone, the bad estrogen. This is why I don’t recommend it.

      And too much fiber can be an issue as well. No real need to add plant fibers for any real benefits. Too much can also elongate the intestines and cause issues.

  • Alison James says:

    This makes total sense as well as with the chia. Already kicked soy to the curb and others. So out go the flax crackers. Any other ideas for crackers other than cheese? Thank you

  • Terry says:

    I’ve heard soaking your seeds reduces the phytates. Is it okay to consume them if you soak them?

  • Tricia says:

    I had just tried flax seed tea (tea bag version) and within 30 minutes of drinking it I was so dizzy I couldn’t get up from my desk and I was very nauseous. I am not sure if this is normal. I haven’t had it since yet after reading this I won’t test further, I will be tossing the tea bags!

  • Leslie says:

    What about flax oil?

  • Leslie says:

    I need to further explain my surprise about Flax Oil.

    I have had my husband for going on two years add flax oil to his tomato juice each morning. His elevated PSA has dropped since we started this protocol.

    Now I am confused. One day it is in the next day it is out.

    Can you provide further thoughts?


    • Maria Emmerich says:

      That could be just from increased omega-3’s. So get more quality seafood and fish instead to get omega-3s without phytoestrogens.

      • Leslie says:

        We really hate fish!!
        Never going to happen in this house.

        We will watch my husband’s next PSA test, if still good I think we will remain on the path of what has worked.
        One day a product is in the net day it is out.

        Thank you. I do appreciate you answered.

  • Sally says:

    Hmmm, what would be a binder alternative when making “granola” bars? The recipe I use is all nuts, coconut flakes, swerve, fiber syrup & lily’s chocolate chips. Flax is used as the binder.

  • ingrid says:

    What a disaster! I am using flax seeds (flax, egg and egg whites) as a craker with schmalz as my breakfast…. very ok and keeps me without having hunger. Digestion seems with these very good! Now reading that it may cause cancer…… bua bua bua let me down!

  • Bette says:

    This is odd to me, as Dr. Fuhrman disagrees:
    I very rarely use flax seed, but I do consume 1 Tbsp of chia seeds every day, the 2nd listed phytoestrogen that is recommended to avoid.
    Interesting, the different opinions based on research and data. Thanks!

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      We have three types of estogen:
      1. Ovaries produce healthy estrogen: Estradiol
      2. Fat Cells store and form unhealthy estrogen: Estrone
      3. 3rd type is produced only when pregnant: Estriol
      Flax increases Estrone, the bad estrogen. This is why I don’t recommend it.

  • Fran Litz says:

    So you have reformatted your post from yesterday about flax seed to explain a little bit about why you changed your mind about flax – I guess as a response to all the hubbub on facebook? But here is one post that I’m going to add here from Jessica Myers who wrote a more balanced response to the flax issue. Thanks to Jessica Myers.

    “There are definitely differing opinions regarding flax but most those who fear ground flax don’t understand that we have good estrogen and bad estrogen in our bodies. I choose to avoid flax oil, but after doing my own personal research, I feel very confident that ground flax is indeed healthy and a superfood.

    Flax has lignans which yes have estrogen like activity but they help rather than harm in that they attach themselves to the hormone receptor and block out more harmful estrogens. So they actually help to create a healthy estrogen profile. We don’t have one type of estrogen in our bodies, we have three main estrogens and then many minor ones. Flax helps in that it allows the good to circulate in our body vs the harmful. There are many studies showing this.”

    This is exactly what my two integrative med specialists have told me in dealing with post full hysterectomy problems. I have vulvo-vaginal atrophy from the lack of estrogen and in order to keep that area alive and functionoing I have to use a small amount of estriol cream directly on my urethra and clitoris. In order to counter the estrogen getting into my system, my specialists told me to eat 2 tbl. of ground flaxmeal every time I use the cream so that they sweep all the excess estrogen away and bring it out of my body immediately through my poop. That’s the deal — I use the cream, I eat the flax, I poop the excess estrogen out. So flax seed is my savior and will allow me to heal my intimate area without further causing cancer.

    There is good and bad to every single thing on earth that God has given us. We just have to use it all wisely and in moderation.

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      Yes, we have three types of estogen:
      1. Ovaries produce healthy estrogen: Estradiol
      2. Fat Cells store and form unhealthy estrogen: Estrone
      3. 3rd type is produced only when pregnant: Estriol

      Flax increases Estrone, the bad estrogen. This is why I don’t recommend it.

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      I would add, good quality animal proteins don’t have any of the bad. Most plants have bad things that are actually the plants defense mechanisms. So look at the plants differently than the much more nutrient dense animal proteins.

  • Nikki Hurst says:

    Please do proper research before posting stuff like this. Phytoestrogens do not elicit a strong estrogenic response and thus have an antiestrogenic effect that inhibits the growth and proliferation of estrogen-dependent cancer cells. PLUS, they block the absorption of xenoestrogens.

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      I have done a lot of research on this and seen results with many clients as well. We have three types of estogen:
      1. Ovaries produce healthy estrogen: Estradiol
      2. Fat Cells store and form unhealthy estrogen: Estrone
      3. 3rd type is produced only when pregnant: Estriol
      Flax increases Estrone, the bad estrogen. This is why I don’t recommend it.

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      In addition, the body has problems converting plant omega-3s so it is much better to get them from fish and seafood.

  • Valerie Windham says:

    Thank you Maria for your ongoing pursuit to learn and help all of us. When one has the desire to grow and learn its inevitable we will discover these things out.

  • Rebecca says:

    Some of your recipes call for flax seed. What would you sub for that? Say in your pizza bites (keto kids book).

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      I would skip those recipes. I haven’t written a recipe with flax in it for over 5-6 years. 🙂

      • Tamara says:

        I’m confused. I just received your book “The Art of Healthy Eating: Slow Cooker” copyright 2013 (four years ago), and on page 9 you talk abut Flaxseed Meal. You even say “I have a chocolate flaxseed muffin in the recipe section that is a favorite of many clients”. Are you now saying to negate ALL references you have made to Flaxseed? Thank you

  • Betsy says:

    Actually, if you get a thermogram that shows estrogenic issues, flax is recommended. I think you are mistaken here.

  • Lori says:

    I had to give up flax seeds years ago! It killed my stomach! Can’t tell you how many times I had to leave work to go crawl in bed! I avoid most grains due to that reason.

  • Rachel says:

    Here is another article from University of Maryland. It states that there needs to be more research in the connection to cancer, but that there we’re studies where breast cancer tumor growth was reduced by the use of flax. It’s a great article and isn’t for or against flax, but looks at both sides. It also recommends keeping intake at 5 tbsp and less. Their stance is that more research needs to be done. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/flaxseed
    Just about too much of anything can be bad for our bodies.

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      I tend to stay on the side of caution. Why add foods that can mess with your bodies natural hormone balance so much? Stick wiht quality animal proteins and other foods that don’t.

  • Mabel says:

    Where are some good animal proteins that you would recommend? Thank you, Maria, for all your hard work to help us all

  • I have been using flax seed oil (capsules) to handle my constipation problems on this diet. Seems to be the only thing that helps. Also my eye doctor wants me to take it as it is recommended for dry eyes. Can you give me an alternative choice?

  • Dawn says:

    Is golden ground flaxseed contain the same bad phytoestrogens ?

    Could I sub in pysillium for the above in recipes that use them?

    Would it be 1:1 ratio?

  • This is why accurate, non invasive advanced Applied Kinesiology is the answer to me, for everything. it tells me what the problem or disease is,how it got there, and exactly what to do about it. What product, how much and how long and enables the kinesiologist to monitor the condition and amount of product. I have over 20000 hrs in advanced A.K. studying with the late George Goodhart, and other experts, who developed the field. Structural outs, allergens, emotional issues tested and cleared at cause, any vit. min. deficiency, viruses, bacterias. Flax tests strong on myself. One can have an allergy to it, thus causing problems, or one an have poor digestion and that causes the problem, or an inorganic version might be the trouble. That is why I test the entire body for anything anything our of balance. Not all muscle testing is done accurately, depends upon the training, and expertise of the practitioner, If the brain hemispheres are not connected with the proper muscles, testing is less than 20 per cent accurate. Testing of products should be done in the hand only, that is not accurate, but cross referenced back to the corresponding reflex which was week. Most people test strong on flax.

  • Mary says:

    There’s not enough research and there are not enough sites that you have listed you keep continually repeating yourself on the three types of estrogen with no additional information than the blanket statement you make . you need to understand that everyone’s body is different and that not everybody can tolerate fish oils and spreading something that you cannot substantiate 100% other than a couple of sites you came across is spreading Panic that isn’t necessary. unless you’re a scientist or a dietitian or has spent years upon years researching different things about flax please make sure you let everyone know that this is your opinion nothing more.

  • Robin says:

    Wow…going to do my own research. I had a doctor, like the woman reported above, who had me doing flax to help get rid of extra estrogen. I’m not sure about fish, as there is so much plastic and toxins in our waters. I don’t eat fish very often. I don’t eat beef or pork and really prefer vegetarian diet as much as possible. I’m hearing all the time about placebo effects and how what we believe greatly affects what goes on in our bodies. I’m going to keep researching on my own. Most people don’t get near enough fiber, and would have to really work at getting “too much”.

  • Nancy says:

    Wasn’t sure of the flax meal or chia…chia is just weird to me ~ like slim, so I have problem tossing it. I do have a friend who has had issues with breast cancer, and she has been told by oncologist to stay far away from flax anything.
    Also, reading some recipes substitutes I found the following, almond meal, pecan meal and walnut meal ~ also I think I may give a shot to hemp heart! They all have similiar properties and no issues with real foods! I always think of flax as furniture polish! Not eating that!
    Happy eating!!! Loving the beginning of my new Keto lifestyle ~ thanks Maria🤗

  • Trixie says:

    My diet is plant-based keto, and your article on flaxseed has me flummoxed.

    Here is why I eat flax (besides the taste and loving how I can use it to replace eggs for baking and other such stuff):
    Good for fighting breast cancer: https://nutritionfacts.org/2016/05/26/preventing-breast-cancer-with-flax-seeds/
    Good for fighting prostate cancer: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/flaxseed-vs-prostate-cancer/

    Also, phytonutrients rock: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/plant-based-prevention/

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      The devil is always in the details when it comes to studies. Who funded it, what methods where used, etc. You can find a study to “support” or advise against just about anything.

      • McDonna says:

        “If you torture the numbers long enough, they’ll confess to anything.”
        ~ Chuck Missler, referencing the way studies are done with an outcome in mind before research even begins.

        It’s not enough to just be familiar with the studies. Study the studies. As you said, Maria, the source of funding has everything to do with the outcome of the research. If the findings don’t support the interests of the funding organization, it will affect future investments…er…I mean…grants. 😉

  • Jan says:

    When I first went low carb I replaced bread with a daily flax muffin. I started spitting almost immediately but didn’t make the connection. Over the course of 8 weeks the bleeding got heavier and heavier. My (male) doctor declared it “just menopause” but I was bleeding through overnight pads just standing up from a sitting position. It was time to consult Dr. Google where I learned that flax could be the culprit. Within 48 hours of stopping flax the bleeding stopped. At that point I was pretty anemic and it took 6 months to get my iron levels back to normal.

  • Ingrid says:

    What alternative can we take if we are allergic to fish and seafood?

  • Jas says:

    Dear Maria,
    Thanks for keeping us updated about current research; it is greatly appreciated.
    Would you mind creating a post which ones of your previous recipes & recommendations you would today recommend avoiding? I have all your books, and used to love your flax waffles and I am sure some of your other great recipes may no longer be considered too healthy and very recommended for weight loss on keto. You also now recommend cutting down on dairy and nuts, as in the Cleanse book. So it would be great to have an update on your previous recipes and recommendations in one place for all of us. Thank you in advance and thanks again for all the great work you do.

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      There are only a couple recipes that use flax. I would just skip them. I have removed them all from this blog. There was a flax muffin and flax waffle in my old cookbooks (the Art of Healthy Eating Combined book). Just skip those recipes. Thanks! 🙂

  • KS says:

    Do you still recommend that women take Brevail, since it is made from Flax?

  • McDonna says:

    Maria, what do you recommend to use in place of chia and flax? I have been a big fan of chia for several years for its high fiber, which my sluggish system seriously needs! I have been using hemp hearts with the chia to make “fauxtmeal” to help keep my system functioning well. Hemp hearts are very pricey, though.

    Could you please recommend something else to take the place of chia?

    Thanks for keeping us updated on quality research that impacts our health!

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      You don’t need the extra fiber. Fiber actually can make constipation worse. I would look at other things to get you more regular (probiotics, more salt, etc).

  • Kris S. says:

    And I thought I was doing so well adding chia and flax. So if now they are out, is there anything besides fish & shell fish for the omega-3s? I am violently allergic to most fish and shell fish, the anaphylaxis kind of allergy, even the smell of fish cooking makes me wheeze. Thanks~

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      The big thing you want is a balance of omega-6 and omega-3. This lifestyle already GREATLY reduces omega-6’s (vegetable oils, seed oils, etc). So you need less omega-3. Then just getting it from fresh foods is best (eggs, fish, seafood, etc). So in your case just keep omega-6s to a minimum and get quality eggs and maybe add some walnuts. 🙂

  • Lori says:

    I just bought some and it taste terrible. I will throw it away.

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