Risks of Flax seeds During Pregnancy

flaxseed during pregnancy
flaxseed during pregnancy

Most people want to know the benefits and harms of each food for the body. This is although some materials cannot be used at any time despite the extraordinary elements and compositions in them. Flaxseed is one of the seeds that have countless properties for health, but its consumption is prohibited during pregnancy. In the following, you will learn more about the nature of flax seeds and the benefits and side effects of their consumption.

Flax seed and pregnancy

Flax seed is easily available in Asian, European, and Mediterranean countries. This seed contains many nutrients and is rich in potassium, magnesium, protein, zinc, various vitamins, fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, and fiber. Fiber helps balance cholesterol and blood glucose levels, and alpha-linolenic acid lowers cholesterol, relieves inflammation, and is a powerful laxative.

Is it OK to consume flax seeds during pregnancy?

The unique properties of flaxseed or its oil are undeniable, but according to the many types of research that have been done in this field, its consumption during pregnancy has negative effects, which is due to the presence of phytoestrogens called lignans, which affect estrogen. The results of another study showed that the children of mothers who consumed flax seeds during pregnancy are more likely to get breast cancer, but these hypotheses have not been fully confirmed and are still being investigated. To get the nutrients in flaxseed without eating it, you can use alternative foods such as fish to get omega-3.

There are two types of flax seeds, brown and golden, which are available as a whole, powdered and ground seeds.

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Most foods may contain flaxseed and we cannot detect it, so it is better to read the label thoroughly before consuming any food. Bread, crackers, cereals, chocolate, various oils, sauces, fiber foods, and many other foods contain flax seeds.

Health Benefits of flax seeds during pregnancy

1. Enhancing fetal brain development

Linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid or omega-3 found in flaxseeds play an important role in fetal brain development in early pregnancy.

2. Balancing blood sugar levels

Flax seeds are rich in fiber, which regulates blood sugar levels and moderates the complications of gestational diabetes.

3. Fixing constipation

Using flax seeds during pregnancy improves some problems, including constipation, but there is not enough documentation for this claim yet.

Possible Risks of Consume Flaxseeds During Pregnancy

1. Raising blood pressure

One of the most common risks associated with consuming flaxseeds during pregnancy is high blood pressure. According to research published in the journal Hypertension, consuming flaxseed oil could increase your risk of developing hypertension by as much as 50%.

2. Creating nausea and diarrhea

Flaxseeds are known to cause gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, flatulence, and diarrhea in some people who consume them regularly. The reason behind this effect is that these seeds contain a small amount of cyanide which is released when they come into contact with enzymes in the digestive tract. This can cause nausea and vomiting within minutes after ingestion. You should also avoid taking flaxseeds if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as they can cause birth defects in your baby.

3. Lip swelling and inflammation

Flaxseeds can cause lip swelling and inflammation in some people. The reason behind this effect is that flaxseeds contain a substance called lignans which are similar to estrogen. When these lignans enter your body, they bind with the estrogen receptors in your body and cause an allergic reaction. This can lead to mild irritation of the skin or swelling around the eyes and lips.

4. Poisoning due to the presence of cyanide

Flaxseeds are high in cyanogenic glycosides, which are compounds that release cyanide when consumed. Cyanide is a poisonous substance that can cause brain damage and death. It is important to note that most people do not suffer from cyanide poisoning due to flaxseed consumption because they only eat small amounts of these seeds at one time. However, if you have an allergy or sensitivity to cyanide, it is important to avoid flaxseeds and other foods that contain high levels of cyanogenic glycosides.

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5. Allergic reaction

Flaxseed oil may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. This is because flaxseed contains the protein alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is also present in walnuts, soybeans, and other crops.

6. Increased risk of premature birth

Flaxseed may increase the risk of premature birth in pregnant women. A study published in the “American Journal of Epidemiology” in 2010 showed that women who consumed more than three tablespoons (45 milliliters) of flaxseed oil per day during their pregnancy were twice as likely to have a premature delivery. This was compared with those who did not consume any flaxseed oil during pregnancy.

6. Risk of cancer

Flaxseed may increase the risk of cancer. A study published in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” in 2014 revealed that flaxseed oil contains an average of 4 parts per million (ppm) of cadmium, which is higher than other types of oil. Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal that can cause kidney disease and cancer when consumed in large amounts over time.

7. Creating skin problems

Consuming flaxseeds during pregnancy can cause skin problems, such as rashes, itching, and inflammation. This happens when the body’s immune system reacts to a protein found in flaxseed called lectin.

Is it safe to consume raw flax seeds during pregnancy?

It is not allowed to use raw flax seeds not only during pregnancy but also in other cases because this seed, if raw, despite the presence of high fiber, also contain small amounts of cyanide compounds. If you have a strong desire to consume flax seeds for any reason other than pregnancy, you can consume a small amount of it, because by consuming it in high volume, people’s bodies are not able to metabolize the compounds in flax seeds. For safe consumption of this seed, it can be used in soup or hot sauce because the heat decomposes and destroys the cyanide in it. Soaking, mixing with other food, grinding, powdering, and consuming it with liquids are among other reliable ways to easily consume and digest flaxseed. Remember to store flax seeds in tightly sealed containers in the refrigerator because they have little resistance to spoilage.

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How to use flax seeds safely during pregnancy?

As mentioned above, the consumption of raw flaxseed is prohibited due to the presence of cyanide. To get rid of this toxic and dangerous compound, you can roast flax seeds. Powdered flax seeds can be added to yogurt, smoothies, salads, etc.

Is it safe to use flaxseed oil during pregnancy?

Flaxseed oil has many benefits, including treating digestive disorders, treating constipation, and diarrhea, relieving inflammation, strengthening the skin, and improving heart function, and despite these wonderful properties, the use of flaxseed oil is still prohibited during pregnancy, especially in the last months. Research results have shown that the use of this oil at the end of pregnancy greatly increases the probability of premature birth. To get the omega 3 needed during pregnancy, you can use safer foods such as walnuts, soybean oil, canola oil, salmon, herring, sardines, and salmon.

Side effects of flaxseed consumption

  1. Flaxseed has a lot of fiber, so it should be consumed with plenty of liquids to be easily digested, otherwise, it will cause digestive disorders in a person.
  2. The flax seed oil contains omega 3, and consumption of omega 3 at the same time as some medicines will have drug interactions. One of these drugs that interferes with omega-3 foods is warfarin (anticoagulant) and the possibility of bleeding increases.

Is it OK to consume flaxseed or its oil while breastfeeding?

Based on the research, the use of flaxseed or its oil during breastfeeding is useful due to the presence of omega-3 and does not pose a risk to the mother and the baby, but for continuous use, it is better to consult a specialist doctor.

The risk of bleeding may increase with the consumption of flaxseed oil or products containing flaxseed. So, be careful when choosing creams, shampoos, soaps, body sprays, face creams, moisturizers, hair oils, lotions, etc. because they usually contain flax seeds.


Choosing healthy food is one of the ways to maintain the health of the mother and her fetus during pregnancy. Flaxseed is one of the seeds that are rich in nutrients, magnesium, potassium, protein, various vitamins, fatty acids, and fiber. Flaxseed and its oil, despite all the benefits they have, should not be consumed during pregnancy. Because they are dangerous for the health of the mother and fetus.

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