Negative Effects of Flaxseed Meal

Flax seeds linseed on wooden spoon
A wooden spoon filled with flaxseed. (Image: Anetlanda/iStock/Getty Images)

Flaxseed meal is ground up flaxseed that comes from the plant Linum usitatissimum. You can purchase flaxseed meal or create it yourself by processing whole seeds in a spice or coffee grinder. Flaxseed meal provides a wealth of nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids that support heart health and brain growth. Although adding flaxseed meal to your diet is usually positive, flaxseed meal can cause unfortunate side effects for some people.

Benefits of Flaxseed Meal

Add flaxseed meal to your diet to benefit from the omega-3 fatty acids, especially if you are a vegetarian. Flaxseed meal may also sooth your digestive tract if you suffer from constipation, diarrhea, IBS or inflamed intestines and stomach lining. Flaxseed meal may also help lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Flaxseed meal contains 4 grams of fiber for every 2-tablespoon serving. It is also a source of vitamin B-6, folate, thiamin, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese.

Gastrointestinal Distress

For some people, the fiber in flaxseed meal could cause increased bowel movements and loose stool. If you are unaccustomed to consuming lots of fiber, you might also experience bloating, gas, cramping and diarrhea. Constipation, stomachaches and nausea are other potential side effects if you add too much flaxseed meal to your diet.

Serious Complications

A large dose of flaxseed meal could cause intestinal blockage. The fiber in the meal might cause too much bulk so food and fluid cannot pass through your small intestine or colon. Symptoms of blockage include pain in the abdomen, nausea and vomiting. Drink plenty of water and eat just 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal at a time to prevent this complication.

Drug Interactions

The fiber in flaxseed meal makes it digest slowly, so you may experience slowed absorption of any medications you consume at the same time as flaxseed meal. Avoid this complication by consuming medications several hours before or after you take flaxseed meal. The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed meal by interact negatively with blood-thinning medications. If you take insulin or other medication for diabetes, consult your physician before consuming flaxseed meal. The effectiveness of your oral contraceptives or hormonal therapy may also be affected by flaxseed meal consumption.

Other Considerations

The type of omega-3 in flaxseed meal is called ALA, but your body better metabolizes and uses forms called EPA and DHA. Although most people can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, if you have diabetes or schizophrenia, this conversion ability may be compromised. If you suffer from these conditions, consult your physician before consuming flaxseed meal as you may be better off getting your fatty acids from salmon or fish oil capsules.

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