Get on the Flax Track!

August 7, 2009
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

The benefits of flax are popping up all over.

flax_1A new review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition just reported on 28 different studies on flaxseed and its derivatives. This vegetarian source of omega-3s was found to lower both total cholesterol and LDL, the “bad” cholesterol.

Flax appears to be especially beneficial for post-menopausal women.  Why? The lignans in the fibrous shell of the flaxseed work to quench free radicals in the body and combat the cell-proliferating power of excess estrogen.

No wonder other research finds flaxseed helps fight cancer, makes insulin more effective, and supports the immune system. Earlier research at Canada’s Princess Margaret Hospital and Toronto Hospital shows that as little as two tablespoons a day of ground flaxseed markedly inhibits tumor growth in women with breast cancer.

Dr. Ann Louise’s Take:

This news is music to my ears. What I’ve been writing about for years has now been confirmed by a major medical journal. My followers have been accruing the benefits of flaxseed for the last ten years.  Not only have I reported on the benefit for menopausal symptoms in my books Before the Change (New York Times bestseller) and Hot Times; flax has also been a major component of my Fat Flush diet and detox programs.

Make flaxseed part of your daily diet with these new and tasty ideas: Sprinkle flaxseeds over salads and veggies, roll in fruit slices, add to cottage cheese and yogurt, or grind and add to smoothies. Many of my personal recipes in The Fat Flush Cookbook feature creative ways to add flaxseeds to any menu. As confirmed in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, high-lignan sources of flax appear to be most effective. While lignans are found in flaxseed oil and supplements, flax in its natural seed form gives you the most benefit with the highest lignan levels. I’ve found organic Omega Nutrition’s Cold Milled Flax Seeds to be the freshest available.


Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Rosemary Adams

    I am so thankful for the information I have found in your books. I have high LDL and my internist has tried all the statin drugs to lower my cholesterol but I have post-polio syndrone so the statins cause a great deal of muscle pain My cholesterol is coming down not because of drugs but following the Fat Flush diet…thank you for showing me a safer and healthier way to reduce my LDL.
    Rosemary Adams

  2. Christina

    The article above states, “Flax appears to be especially beneficial for post-menopausal women. Why? The Lignans in the fibrous shell of the flaxseed work to quench free radicals in the body and combat the cell-proliferating power of excess estrogen.”

    I can understand quenching free radicals, but the rest of the sentence confuses me. Aren’t post-menopausal women’s bodies making less estrogen and often low in estrogen, causing various less-than-desirable symptoms? What does it mean to say “combat the cell-proliferating power of excess estrogen”?

  3. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Christina, yes, you are correct; post-menopausal women are making less natural estrogen. But, they are also the population group that is taking the highest amount of HRT in the form of synthetic estrogen. Flax is an estrogen modulator in this regard.

  4. Carolyn

    I read that the flax seed must be ground in order to get the benefits. Whole flax seed may be passed through the digestive system and therefore you wouldn’t get the full benefits. What is your opinion on this?

  5. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Carolyn, you are correct. Whole flaxseed can also be irritating to the GI tract as well. You can either ground it daily or buy it pre-ground.

  6. Carol

    I took your advise about flaxseed and flaxseed oil and started taking it around three years ago. I always had a problem with constipation but soon after starting the regime of daily use, I got myself on a regular schedule of going. I haven’t used any laxatives since I started taking flaxseed and oil. Thank you, Ann.

  7. Denise Foster

    I eat Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats, 2tbs. of Bob’s Red Mill Ground Flax, a small palm full of walnuts for more omega 3’s, couple dried cranberries, a tbs. of brown sugar, and a splash of milk everyday for breakfast, along with a multivitamin, calcium, and sometimes my fish oil supplement. I also drink oj and pomegranate juice for breakfast. I also take my greens, but not everyday. I do have flax oil, I find it hard to incorporate it into my diet unless I drink it with Kefir. I am 35 yrs old.

  8. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Flaxseed oil can be drizzled on baked potatoes, squash, and even oatmeal (after it has cooled a bit)…There are lots of ways to be creative. Check out Fat Flush Cookbook and the recipes on my Forum 🙂

  9. joellen

    I currently take 6000mg/daily of Barlean’s Organin Pure Flax Oil softgels as I don’t like the ground flaxseed or the oil. Will I receive the same benefit as the ground flaxseed or the oil and should I increase my daily mg dosage?

  10. Candie Shipman, NTP

    I love the idea of using flax but am finding conflicting information on cooking with flax meal – such as adding it to baked goods and then baking. What is your opinion? Do you have any research available for me to look at?

  11. Darlene

    I just finished the 2 week phase 1 and lost 5 pounds, I am so excited! I found it to be easy and satisfying. I did notice in the lonlife coctail for phase 1 is says ground flax seed and phase 2 says flaxseed meal and phase 3 says ground. I bought the meal for phase 1 and used it the entire time, I just bought the seeds and a coffee grinder, is there a difference in ground and meal? I also use the oil-two tablespoons a day:)

  12. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Joellen: The most impressive studies have been done on flaxseeds. They can be disguised in cereals and baking. Only two tablespoons a day reap major health benefits. The oil is also good, of course because it is a source of Omega 3’s but whether “high lignan” or not, it is not as beneficial as ground flaxseeds if you are looking at breast health and cancer-controlling power.
    Candie: Canadian Flax Council says you can bake with flaxseeds.
    Darlene: Congrats. Ground is more “gritty” than meal which is more pasty. I prefer ground because it works more like a “broom” in the system. The other can be more clogging.

  13. Liz Beck

    Flax oil is delicious on cooked veggies and in salad dressing recipes in place of olive oil. It breaks down with heat though, so no cooking.

  14. Marsha Dale

    This salad uses flaxseed oil and is one of my favorites:

    spring mix lettuce
    cooked chicken, diced or shredded
    artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
    boiled or roasted fresh beets, peeled and chunked (amazingly good)

    Dressing is flaxseed oil and lemon juice whisked together. It’s so wonderful. (Keep oil in fridge and keep note of expiration date, or smell to ensure it hasn’t gone rancid, which it does more quickly than most oils.)

  15. Tina

    I love the taste of ground flaxseed. But, I have noticed that after using ground flaxseed for a couple of weeks time, my hair starts to shed. Not significantly, but more than usual or than what is normal. I have had my throid removed and wonder if this could have anything to do with it. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated!

  16. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Please make sure that you toast your ground flaxseeds. There is some research to suggest that an alkaloid-type substance in flaxseeds can inhibit thyroid function. This substance is neutralized through lightly toasting. Although you have had your thyroid removed, I assume you are taking some type of thyroid replacement. The untoasted flaxseeds may be interfering with this in some way. In any case, you might wish to consider substituting chia seeds on a daily or every other day basis and see what happens.

  17. Darlene

    It’s me again! I started grinding the flax seeds instead of using the meal. Yesterday and so far today, I have experienced alot of trapped gas. My stomach hurts. I haven’t wanted to take anything over the counter since I am in my 2nd week of phase two. I am not constipated but the gas is definetly uncomfortable and I am really bloated. I have been taking extra Dandelion root and drinking extra water. I am also in the second day of my menstrual. Any suggestions?

  18. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Not sure what you are referring to exactly, Ann. All blogs are archived. Can you clear your “cash” or “cookies?” Every new blog is posted and this one is simply archived. Where you directed here instead of the Acne and Liver Damage blog???

  19. Carol

    Hi there Ann S. –

    I’m the technical advisor for Dr. Ann Louise’s blog, and I ran a few tests and everything seems to be working ok. I also had several recipients of the Acne blog’s email forward them to me and all of the “Read More” links work properly. Unfortunately, it may be something on your computer that needs to be refreshed. Re-enter in the address bar and it should show up correctly. Also, as ALG suggested, it could be an issue with your internet options (cache, cookies, etc.) Try refreshing the page and clicking on “blog”. Hope that helps!

  20. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Dear Friends:
    I would love to answer each and every single one of your queries, as I have done to the best of my ability, in the past. The popularity of this Blog has grown to the extent that I can no longer provide that service but I am in the planning stages of an Internet – TV show where you can call in and get those questions answered by me in person! Please stay tuned for this exciting development. I first must complete a new manuscript and then will make some exciting announcements. In the interim, may I suggest that if you have questions about products, call UNI KEY at 1-800-888-4353. The folks there are helpful and will direct you accordingly. If you are concerned about a particular health condition, then by all means check out the Testing Kits on my site which will help you to determine underlying causes. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and interest!

  21. sarah from north carolina

    i am starting this today but my question is I have low thyroid and take synthroid for it. will the flax seed cause problems??

  22. Joel

    Hi Sarah, Flax seeds will cause no problems with your thyroid as long as they are properly prepared before using them. If you’re using whole seeds they will need to be toasted before you grind them. If buying preground seed, they can be used out of the bag, the manufacturer has already prepared them.

  23. Janet

    I heard from someone that flaxseed oil is very unstable. What did she mean by that? Can flaxseed or it’s oil be harmful in anyway or can using it too much create a problem? Also, I have ground my own flaxseed and toasted it for 10 minutes. Have I done it right?

  24. Barb

    I am taking Levothyroxine, is it safe to use 2 tablespoons of flaxmeal a day?

    • Team ALG

      You just want to be sure to take the flaxmeal fiber 2 hours away from your Levothyroxine.

  25. Kat Risley

    I am hyperthyroid. Don’t I need to toast my flax seeds now? I used to, when I was hyperthyroid many years ago (then I had a partial thyroidectomy in 2004).
    The fat flush plan said what temp and how long to toast them, but my book must be in storage and I can’t find the info online.
    How long and at what temp, please?


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