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Can Flaxseed Increase Estrogen Levels?

author image Paula Martinac
Paula Martinac holds a Master of Science in health and nutrition education from Hawthorn University, with an emphasis on healthy aging, cancer prevention, weight control and stress management. She is Board Certified in holistic nutrition and a Certified Food and Spirit Practitioner. Martinac runs a holistic health counseling practice and has written extensively on nutrition for various websites.
Can Flaxseed Increase Estrogen Levels?
A bowl of flaxseeds on a wooden table. Photo Credit: Magone/iStock/Getty Images

Tiny, nutty-tasting flaxseeds boast a wealth of nutritional benefits, including supporting digestive and cardiovascular health. Of particular interest to scientists, however, is their high content of lignans, a type of phytoestrogen or plant compound that can mimic estrogen in the body. Flaxseeds, in fact, contain more lignans than any other food, says the Linus Pauling Institute. The lignans in flaxseed may help protect against hormone-related cancers and possibly improve bone health.

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Flaxseed and Estrogen

Adding flaxseeds to the diet can actually have an anti-estrogenic effect, meaning that it can cause the body to produce less-active forms of estrogen rather than more. This has the potential to protect women, especially after menopause, from estrogen-receptive cancers such as breast, uterine and ovarian. Studies on the use of flaxseed for symptoms of menopause -- a time when the ovaries produce smaller amounts of estrogen -- have not been quite as promising, according to a review published in “Menopause” in 2013. In hot flashes, flaxseed did not lessen symptoms, and a small number of studies on the use of flaxseed to improve bone density were inconclusive.

Using Flaxseed

Mix a tablespoon of flaxseed into your morning oatmeal or cereal, or sprinkle it onto a dish of yogurt. Eating flaxseed is generally considered safe, but consult a gynecologist for questions about your estrogen levels and flaxseed consumption.

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