FAQ: Can I eat too much flaxseed?
While flaxseed provides numerous health benefits, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. Cooking or baking with flaxseed is a perfectly safe practice. However, when raw flaxseed is added in large quantities to diets that do not contain a healthy mix of foods, health problems can develop. Like thousands of other plant seeds, flaxseed contains moderate amounts of natural compounds called cyanogenic glucosides. In an unbalanced diet containing too much uncooked flaxseed, cyanogenic compounds can build up in the body, leading to unpleasant and, on occasion, life-threatening reactions. Such a buildup has been documented in populations relying solely on a staple such as cassava in their diet. In these cases, the illness-causing deposits were not blocked by enzymes supplied by other foods in the diet. A balanced diet containing 50 g (approximately ¼ cup) of flaxseed daily does not increase glucoside buildup. In addition, cyanogenic compounds are made harmless by cooking.