Benefits of Flaxseed Meal for Weight Loss

Benefits of Flaxseed Meal for Weight Loss
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Were the flax seed studies showing 20 pounds of weight loss just flukes?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Canada now allows a health claim on the labels of products with flax seeds, saying that we know with sufficient certainty that flax seeds do indeed help lower cholesterol levels. The products have to contain two tablespoons, and have to be relatively healthy in the first place. So, they can’t boast about the cholesterol-lowering effects of flax seed-enriched meatballs or something.

Such claims are based on studies like this “double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.” Wait, how can you come up with placebo food? I mean, there are sugar pills for drugs, but how can you slip spoonfuls of flax past someone? The researchers made all these special products, snack bars, muffins, and bagels so the research subjects would unknowingly be getting tablespoons of ground flax seeds, or just tablespoons of the control: whole wheat. And they did this for a year! No one knew who got which muffins until the code was broken at the end. And…the dietary flax seed group saw a 15 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol as early as one month into the trial, but only fell significantly lower than the whole wheat group in those on cholesterol-lowering drugs. In those off drugs, the whole wheat group’s cholesterol went down too, diminishing the efficacy of the flax in comparison. That’s why food placebos are so hard.

Like in this study. The reason they give for doing a so-called “open label” study where the study group is aware they’re eating flax seeds is because they couldn’t come up with an “inert placebo” for flax seed. I mean, whole wheat flour is a whole grain, and could be beneficial in its own right, and white flour could make the control group look even worse. So, what they did in this study was that overweight patients were randomly assigned to receive either lifestyle advice and daily ground flax seeds, or just the lifestyle advice alone, as the control group. And, not surprisingly: “Body weight, waist circumference, and body mass index decreased significantly in both groups.” Even without the lifestyle advice, just enrolling people in a study where you know they’re going to keep weighing you can get people to lose weight, though there was a significantly greater reduction in the flax seed group, and not just by a little. The control group that just got lifestyle advice over a 12-week period lost nearly seven pounds, and about an inch off their waist. But the group that got the same advice plus spoonfuls of flax a day? So, in effect given more food to eat, lost over 20 pounds on average over the same period and cut nearly four inches off their waist. Those are extraordinary numbers for an intervention that added, rather than actively removed, calories from the diet. Was that just some crazy fluke?

How about flax seed supplementation for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease? Thanks to the obesity epidemic, that’s now “the most common liver disease.[,]..recognized as a major public health problem around the world. A “high-fat diet is the most common cause,” but flax seed fat may be better, compared to lard. Well, that’s not very helpful; so, let’s put it to the test.

Same as last time, lifestyle modification advice with or without flax seeds. They were told to just mix it with water and juice, and drink it down after breakfast. And…body weight went down, along with liver inflammation, and scarring and fat inside the liver in both groups, but better in the flax seed group. And again, that extraordinary 20-pound weight loss, telling people to add something to their diet. So, maybe that first study wasn’t a fluke. Or, maybe, they both were.

There have been dozens of randomized, controlled trials of flax seeds and weight loss, and as you can see most were more equivocal. Here are those two recent 20-pound weight loss studies, which appear to be the outliers. But still, put all the studies together, and you do see a significant reduction in body weight, BMI, and waistlines following flax seed supplementation in randomized, controlled trials—though one should expect more like two pounds of weight lost rather than 20.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: 3mpstudio via pixabay. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Canada now allows a health claim on the labels of products with flax seeds, saying that we know with sufficient certainty that flax seeds do indeed help lower cholesterol levels. The products have to contain two tablespoons, and have to be relatively healthy in the first place. So, they can’t boast about the cholesterol-lowering effects of flax seed-enriched meatballs or something.

Such claims are based on studies like this “double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.” Wait, how can you come up with placebo food? I mean, there are sugar pills for drugs, but how can you slip spoonfuls of flax past someone? The researchers made all these special products, snack bars, muffins, and bagels so the research subjects would unknowingly be getting tablespoons of ground flax seeds, or just tablespoons of the control: whole wheat. And they did this for a year! No one knew who got which muffins until the code was broken at the end. And…the dietary flax seed group saw a 15 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol as early as one month into the trial, but only fell significantly lower than the whole wheat group in those on cholesterol-lowering drugs. In those off drugs, the whole wheat group’s cholesterol went down too, diminishing the efficacy of the flax in comparison. That’s why food placebos are so hard.

Like in this study. The reason they give for doing a so-called “open label” study where the study group is aware they’re eating flax seeds is because they couldn’t come up with an “inert placebo” for flax seed. I mean, whole wheat flour is a whole grain, and could be beneficial in its own right, and white flour could make the control group look even worse. So, what they did in this study was that overweight patients were randomly assigned to receive either lifestyle advice and daily ground flax seeds, or just the lifestyle advice alone, as the control group. And, not surprisingly: “Body weight, waist circumference, and body mass index decreased significantly in both groups.” Even without the lifestyle advice, just enrolling people in a study where you know they’re going to keep weighing you can get people to lose weight, though there was a significantly greater reduction in the flax seed group, and not just by a little. The control group that just got lifestyle advice over a 12-week period lost nearly seven pounds, and about an inch off their waist. But the group that got the same advice plus spoonfuls of flax a day? So, in effect given more food to eat, lost over 20 pounds on average over the same period and cut nearly four inches off their waist. Those are extraordinary numbers for an intervention that added, rather than actively removed, calories from the diet. Was that just some crazy fluke?

How about flax seed supplementation for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease? Thanks to the obesity epidemic, that’s now “the most common liver disease.[,]..recognized as a major public health problem around the world. A “high-fat diet is the most common cause,” but flax seed fat may be better, compared to lard. Well, that’s not very helpful; so, let’s put it to the test.

Same as last time, lifestyle modification advice with or without flax seeds. They were told to just mix it with water and juice, and drink it down after breakfast. And…body weight went down, along with liver inflammation, and scarring and fat inside the liver in both groups, but better in the flax seed group. And again, that extraordinary 20-pound weight loss, telling people to add something to their diet. So, maybe that first study wasn’t a fluke. Or, maybe, they both were.

There have been dozens of randomized, controlled trials of flax seeds and weight loss, and as you can see most were more equivocal. Here are those two recent 20-pound weight loss studies, which appear to be the outliers. But still, put all the studies together, and you do see a significant reduction in body weight, BMI, and waistlines following flax seed supplementation in randomized, controlled trials—though one should expect more like two pounds of weight lost rather than 20.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: 3mpstudio via pixabay. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

128 responses to “Benefits of Flaxseed Meal for Weight Loss

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  1. So the addition of ground flaxseed daily along with lifestyle counseling is effective — more effective than lifestyle counseling alone, which is also effective.

    I wonder what effect the addition of ground flaxseed alone would have, without lifestyle counseling?

    Because my question about many nutrition studies is: What would the effect of an added food/nutrient be to a diet that is already basically plant based whole food? Does it have a larger effect when the basic diet is SAD? With diminishing effects as the diet becomes more PBWF?

    And of course, how compliant are the study participants? And how is this accounted for?

    1. I have been using flax meal almost every day for at least 2 years now and never noticed loosing any weight. I am 85 and about 160 lb.for at least past year.

      1. My incorporation of flaxseed meal coincided with going WFPB, so I had plenty of weight loss but it was from reduction of calories via whole foods. I’m 52, with weight steady for 4 years around 159, and 22.5-23 BMI. I eat flaxseed for the lignans and joy it brings to my gut.

        1. That IS mean and immature and stupid, honestly. I don’t find them annoying or distracting, I like his style of talking. It’s childish for people to nitpick someone and suggest they change as if their personal perception is the truth and not just simply their personal preference. And it’s incredibly ungrateful… Who do people think they are to suggest someone change their voice and personality to appease them, ever, let alone when it’s a person giving them FREE information…. Just mind blowing. People are ridiculous.

          1. Eliot,

            I am going to say that preferences like that probably are more about culture and how human beings tend to prefer cultures, which are similar to their own.

            There is a book – the name escapes me – I think it had Pink in the title. They talked about how people will give more money to charities and for hurricane relief if the first letter is the same as their first name. People don’t know why they do things or feel things or respond the way they do to something.

            They had the same person wear different color shirts on a dating site and when the women wore red shirts, they were asked on dates more often and the males took them better places and spent more money on them and had greater satisfaction when all that was different was the shirt color on the dating site.

            I thought about the examples and there are things from when we are very young. I can go to the letters and your mother or father will teach the alphabet and when they get to your letter, they add a hug and a squeeze and say, “That’s you” and make that letter special. They take you to a playground with a big primary color slide and buy firetrucks and red becomes special.

            But if you were raised differently, neutral colors could be “special” because your parents wanted a zen environment and were happier when it was calm.

            What I am saying is that a lot of racism and culturism and the self-centeredness of patriotism drives us and we don’t know even that it is going on.

            Dr. Greger comes from a Jewish background and is so dynamic and playful and creative. I like that he is himself and I genuinely agree with S that when someone is giving such an important free gift, the package isn’t nearly as important as the message.

              1. My bigger fear is that we will eat this kind-hearted, people-pleasing man alive. He is so responsive to his audience and it is one thing to ask for topics. Asking him to perform for us is not fair.

                We as human beings do that to our human idols.

                I caught a few seconds of footage talking about Ingrid Bergman and about how she was cast in certain roles where she was things like a nun, but she had affairs in real life and was not any of the roles she played and members of her audience said things like, “I love you so much that….. I don’t want you to ever step out of the favorite character you played.” It is a paraphrase, but the whole point is that we don’t really love them all that well.

          2. God bless thats so true what you said about some people and i want to know more understanding of flax seed sounds very good for me interesting thanks.

          3. As someone who is rightly concerned with cruelty to animals, you should understand that humans are animals, too, and be just as kind to them. Criticising someone for his voice or vocal mannerisms is gratuitous and mean-spirited, and completely devoid of any possible justification. That being said, I absolutely love to listen to Dr. Greger. His style makes me smile, and judging from his success, I’d say that my appreciation has been PUT TO THE TEST and has passed with flying colors. Dr. Greger is no idiot, and so I am sure that he will not be taking your terrible advice. PEACE!

      1. Agreed! I always read the transcripts fro this very reason. I love what Dr Greger does, but he is not a voice actor. If he wants to continue doing the voice overs, then investing in a few sessions with a voice coach might be helpful. The voice and mannerisms can be trained. Just some constructive advice, well intentioned.

        1. Yeah Mims, because it’s not like he’s reached millions of people and have has an incredibly large fan base (for lack of a better term), he should totally throw away all his success and appease a few nitpicking jerks on the interment, sounds like a winning a plan. Anymore advice to super successful people? Just curious.

        2. Mims,

          He is not an actor at all. He is a ridiculously busy doctor. I don’t even know how he figures out how to travel around the world and write books and make videos and do all the interviews he does.

          Honestly, he is more dynamic and more entertaining than most of the doctors, who are also not actors.

          1. And I don’t mean that as he couldn’t benefit from coaching or whatever.

            I watched Colin in his son’s movie and it was so refreshing to not watch acting.

            I don’t want these men to be actors. I want them to be doctors and I find all of their personalities dynamic and interesting and I would still like them if they weren’t.

            Colin sitting in the grass and just caring so deeply about Whole Food Plant-Based is enough reason to listen to him.

            I know that a lot of people don’t like Dr. Fuhrman and I think it is the NY/NJ culture they are responding to, but he is so wonderful to listen to, and Dr. McDougall says all sorts of things which could offend so many people, but when he opens his mouth it is hard to not listen.

            I listen to Nathan Pritikin and he was not a performer, but his interviews still ring loud and clear.

            I don’t want Dr. Greger to have to spend his time and money and energy trying to become something else and honestly, I don’t see it as that easy to change things which are parts of our personalities and when I watched Dr. Greger and Dr. Ornish and Colin in a roundtable, Dr. Greger’s knee was bouncing and I know that people who have come to care about him will be charmed by little things like that and people who aren’t charmed will be trying to have him pay a coach to train him out of every little thing and it would take a very long time.

            My closest friend is highly “professional” and no matter what she is going through she never lets on what is going on inside to people, ever. I am “authentic” oriented and no matter what type of professional setting you put me in, people just look at me and see every emotion and if they miss it, I explain it to them and there have been people who have tried to get me to not be authentic quite so all the time and maybe not explain every single thing and I do work on it and then, I go back to what I am and what I am is deeply ingrained now. I would have been easier to change when I was a kid.

            1. Dr. Greger,

              We have a society which is probably just as sick because of “celebrity” than anything.

              I want you, doctors, to focus on being healthy and happy and being role models of how to live.

              I know that you have to put up with being celebrities to get the message out, but hang on to your family and friendships and to whatever alone time you get.

              When I was watching Plant Pure they were contrasting the small farmers to the big farms and we live in a country which wants everything to be that “professionalized” in that big style. We want every company to be on the cutting edge of AI and every spokesman to look a certain way and talk a certain way and honestly, I have been watching regular people end up in Dove commercials and watching Colin’s son showing the contrast between corporate and small farms with families and relationships and personalities and I felt such hope about this movement reconnecting the country to something greater and smaller.

              I say that and the Big Bad Bank of America won’t let small businesses use their tax services anymore. Corporations where people make millions of dollars are so against the little guys at such a high level and are trying to knock them out of the game. Government isn’t on our side. Corporations aren’t on our side.

              I found you doctors and that makes me smile.

              1. Whoever set up these corporations are unhealthy people who are greedy and polished and they are the ones who are doing it wrong.

                1. What I noticed is that when the local farmers suddenly had a way to make money, the cost of organic vegetables doesn’t go up.

                  The local farmers care about the communities.

                  Whoever started the business model where all these insurance companies and corporations don’t even keep their workers. They overpay them for a few years then toss them out like rubbish. Gone is job security. They don’t want to give benefits. They don’t care if their products kill people.

                  And it was the media who ALSO didn’t care who keeps pimping the companies on people.

                  I look at Uber, for instance. Somehow the company is losing money and making billions and the drivers are gonna be thrown under the bus the minute they can get cars to drive themselves.

                  There is a scene in the movie 13 Going on 30 where they compare healthy people in real lives to what the magazines were pumping out as glamorous, and the main character looked at the sickly, angry-looking models and said, “Who are these people?”

                  We are raising kids to want to be porn addicts who want to become serial killers and are going to act surprised when they become it.

                  I say it because the culture is just like the junk food and addictive food and I was so refreshed watching Plant Pure.

                  You doctors get it.

                  I love all of you.

        3. I agree. I love his message and want to learn more and share with others but sometimes the manner of his delivery is so difficult to cope with I give up

          1. The issue is with you, Christine, not Dr. Greger or anyone else you decide to pettily nitpick. But have fun not receiving a free education on nutritional science because you want him to sound like *insert name of person’s manner you personally happen to like here. Smart.

        4. Mims
          On quite a few occasions we have had people in to visit and we start discussing some health related matter . A number of times we have watched one of nutrition facts videos just to see what Dr Greger has to say on a subject . The thing is , so many people have commented on how well Dr G presents the facts and how well he just breezes through difficult to pronounce words . Never once has anyone said they did not like his style . VERY surprised by your comment .

        5. Here’s some friendly advice for you, Mims: “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.” Have a nice day!

        1. Eliot Minkovitch and dr cobalt,

          I find Dr. Greger’s delivery style and mannerisms amusing and entertaining.

          Mais, chacon a son gout (Each to his own).

          1. Dr J.

            Mais, chacon a son gout

            I think part of the problem is that culture has fragmented into subgroups based around personal opinion and it is hard to find unity anymore and I don’t mean just around one topic.

            We are so global and so intermixed and people want to draw lines in the sand over every single topic.

            It is not new.

            When I look at this country, if you go back in history, most of the States in New England formed out of church splits. Even when people share something as central to their lives as faith, there are still so many things to argue about. For Christianity, they were already discussing arguments so ridiculous about stupid little things while Jesus was alive.

            Whole Food Plant-Based could seriously save lives and help the planet and heal families and bring communities together and we will argue about nuts and that is nuts to me.

            1. I think we’ve forgotten the Golden Rule.

              We’ve also learned that we can express our opinions (even hostile ones) in text without accountability. We can recklessly take a swing at someone in text and then run away with impunity, since we don’t have to stand before that person when we say it.

              I think that’s cowardice…

              Not that I’m perfect in this regard. But I start by trying to remember the GR when I’m feeling irked about something. Then my content automatically becomes more civil.

        1. Dr J, Susan Mawby, and Michael Dugas , I agree with all of you! I so enjoy hearing Dr Greger explain the mysteries of nutrition that he is who I have bookmarked for early morning, first cup of coffee listening for the past 10 yrs. The first videos of those early years sound like he is keeping his voice low so as not to wake the family while recording…. might totally be my imagination, but it’s charming nonetheless. Lovely.
          Thank you Dr Greger !!

          1. Barb,

            That is such a heartwarming image. First cup of coffee for 10 years.

            I bet they went by fast.

            I have been here over a year and a half. That is astounding to me.

            You have no idea, I had all of these symptoms and no money for medicine and I was watching all of the rebellious chiropractor pages and I laugh because they gave me one video from a funny vegan doctor and I watched it and didn’t subscribe. I was focused on how to get healed from all of these things.

            Then, one day, I had the thought, I wonder what that funny vegan doctor would think about this and I didn’t know his name and I was typing in Berger and Bergur and they were giving me Berg and Bergman and that is Keto and chiropractor who doesn’t think cholesterol is harmful, but he started looking so unhealthy and started doing all of his videos just the close up of his face without his body in his car and his topics got stranger and stranger and, anyway, I watched some of Dr. Berg’s Keto videos and Googled “Funny vegan doctor with glasses.”

            Laughing.

            There might be another funny vegan doctor somewhere.

      2. You can definitely read the transcripts if you find the style distracting. So don’t let that stop you getting the great information!

        I enjoy Dr. Greger’s style. In fact, I got the Kindle for his latest book “How Not to Diet” and though I enjoyed it, I felt it was missing something. I kept mentally filling in his vocal style since I’ve heard his videos so often. So I sprang for the extra few dollars to get the Audible version as well and I’m enjoying hearing Dr. Greger read it.

    2. “Does it have a larger effect when the basic diet is SAD? With diminishing effects as the diet becomes more PBWF?”

      I would imagine that the worse off someone is–so someone on a SAD–the more dramatic the difference will be when they incorporate something like ground flax. But that isn’t to say that the positive effects diminish in a person with an already healthy diet, it would just make them healthier, but if for example their arterial function is already optimal then adding say.. a cup of wild blueberries probably isn’t going to show up as making a significant difference in arterial function.
      I sometimes wonder if someone who already eats a WFPB diet and is getting lots of fiber, antioxidants, etc. if the antioxidants and other qualities of foods are able to be used in other ways or better stored in your body like say your skin (I actually don’t doubt that is true at all) or used to repair damage better because they don’t need to be used up in ways they would be in someone who needed their assistance for another function of their body that isn’t in optimal shape such as arterial function. Obviously the antioxidants are better stored in people who aren’t eating an unhealthy diet which in and of itself produces a lot of free radicals with each meal so the antioxidants along with that meal (say they had a side of kale salad with their steak and fries) are at least partly being used up to neutralize the free radicals from that meal. So compared to someone eating a side of kale salad with a sweet potato and lentils, I would imagine you’d get more zeaxanthin and lutein for your retinas and so on.

      1. Oh I should point out that I was referring to all health benefits of of flax and other foods in my comment, not just the topic of this video that is weight loss.

    3. I’m guessing the flax will have more of an effect on the SAD diet than a healthy WFPB diet. I think the reason why flax consumption was associated with weight loss is because of it’s satiating effect. Flax seeds are filling!

    4. And, notably, the study is done with obese participants. Is this a therapy recommendation or a life style change? Very interesting study, but very difficult to do.

      I have chosen to eat flax seeds every day in order to get enough Alpha Lipoic Acid to metabolise into Omega-3 fats rather than eating more fish.

      I would be very interested to see if this actually occurs in healthy adults who are not over weight.

      1. “I have chosen to eat flax seeds every day in order to get enough Alpha Lipoic Acid to metabolise into Omega-3 fats”

        ALA actually is omega-3, it’s the short chain omega-3 which is the one actually responsible for heart health and gives you better skin and hair. What you’re referring to is the long chain omega-3’s used in the brain, DHA and EPA (I believe adults really only need to take up EPA and you get your DHA when you’re still growing if I’m not mistaken but your body can retro-convert DHA into EPA) which indeed your body can convert from the short chain omega-3 ALA.

        There are also algae supplements available for those who want to to take DHA/EPA supplements, but it would still be important to consume flax–as Dr. Greger recommend–for the ALA itself. I myself stick to flax and other omega-3-rich foods for all my omega-3 needs. Hemp is a cool addition, too, because it has GLA and SDA which are rarely found in foods. What’s interesting about stearidonic acid (SDA) is that it’s something our bodies produce from ALA which is necessary for the conversion of short chain omega-3’s into long chain omega-3’s. So the SDA found in hemp may offer further assistance in converting ALA into the long chain omega-3’s for the brain.

        Another awesome tip for everyone is that there is actually significant amounts (I’m not sure how much compared to fish) of EPA in a LAND PLANT!!!! I really wish Dr. Greger would explore the awesome plant purslane that literally grows as a weed. There are two types, the wild and the domestic and from what I read on pubmed, the domestic has more antioxidants. In addition to containing EPA which is so incredibly unique to a land plant, according to an article I read on pubmed, it also has more antioxidants than spinach. I grow it in my garden every year now. Its leaves are very unique in texture, you can tell there is something different about them compared to other leafy greens.

        1. Thanks for this enlightening info about purslane, S. I knew it was a very health-promoting “weed.” I like it in salads or soups. I don’t get enough of it from my weed patch, so will now plant some seeds and grow a cultivated variety.

        2. That is cool, S.

          They sell supplements with it.

          It is a third of the price of Vegan Omega 3 at Swanson vitamins.

          They say that

          1320 IU/100 g, provides 44% of RDA of Vitamin A

          1. S,

            That will be a game changer if it is real.

            I know that I can’t afford too many supplements forever and having one for $7 versus $20 is fabulously helpful.

            1. That’s cool, Deb! Maybe Dr. Greger will delve into it a bit. I hope it’s real. So hard to tell with supplements, you really have to do your homework on the company. It would really help if they would just start regulating the damn supplement industry like they did prior to…1993 was it when it all went to hell?

          1. That’s strange, Betty. I’ve always gotten my seeds from True Leaf Market and have had success. They come back the following year, now I don’t even need to buy seeds, I just replant the ones that come in the garden in their own spot. It may depend on the seeds you buy, some companies sell better seeds than others.

  2. Dr J, I had an interest in the same questions as you. I also had opportunities to test these things out over the course of a couple of years of frequent blood testing. (I wish I had unlimited opportunity!) and I found so far that no individual food made a further difference when added to a high quality plant diet. What did lower cholesterol further (when eating wfpb) was the addition of psyllium. 1 tbsp per day for each mmol you want to lower. (you have to get to the dose level slowly, and with lots of water. I despise the stuff which is why I don’t use it.

    1. I also had opportunities to test these things out over the course of a couple of years of frequent blood testing. (I wish I had unlimited opportunity!) and I found so far that no individual food made a further difference when added to a high quality plant diet.
      ———————————————————————————————————————
      Barb, as someone who has followed ones blood test results, perhaps you can tell me what the symbol for Homocystein is? I’ve checked my past results and can’t figure that out.

      1. Lonie, I have seen it HC or long form homocysteine or both with HC in brackets. The doc mentioned it in June so I think I’ll remind him and get an order for the lab out of interest. My Crp, WBC are both (still) low… thanks Dr Greger!

    2. Beware purslane as it is high in oxalic acid which Dr. Greger warns about in his video about high oxalic acid greens… spinach, chard, and beet greens and now purslane. You do not want to increase your risk of kidney stones do you? Esp when flax and algae oil provide a much better risk free alternative do you? Of course not. Let’s forget this purslane nonsense go away and remember it’s a weed… kill it where you find it. ;) Also it tastes like $%$#%

  3. Okay, so, this morning, I was up nice and early after a weekend of no sleep and I ate my oatmeal and had flaxseeds.

    I like doing studies.

    12 weeks

    What I will say is that if I eat my oatmeal, the walnuts come back in, so if I lose weight, it would be the flaxseeds, particularly because I already cleaned up my diet so much.

    I am torn between trying the flaxseeds or the low fat for 12 weeks.

    Lowering my fat, I think I lost 2 or 3 pounds this week.

    But if I could do weight loss and keep the nuts, and just add in flaxseeds, that would be a more fun test.

    1. What I know from yesterday is that Homocysteine is related to cholesterol in the other direction.

      So, does flaxseed lower Homocysteine?

      I am going to hypothesize that it does.

      I think I saw a Homocysteine and weight one, too, but yesterday was kind of a haze.

      1. Duh, I just realized that Omega 3’s lower Homocysteine and that is why we take flaxseed.

        Sorry, some of us take a few steps to learn things, but I am working on it.

        I predict that next year, I will be able to list a whole bunch of ways to lower Homocysteine.

        Here were a few articles on Homocysteine and cholesterol.

        https://www.everydayhealth.com/heart-health/high-cholesterol/homocysteine-cholesterol/

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3766507/

        1. Deb,
          I am the errant variable. As I told you earlier my homocysteine level is on the high side despite years of using omega 3 supplements, flax seed and psyllium.

          1. Lida,

            You have a mystery.

            Did any of the other variables resonate with you?

            Do you eat soy? (For the precursors to Taurine)
            Do you exercise?
            Do you get enough sleep at night?
            Do you supplement Vitamin D3?

            Trying to remember the rest of the list.

            I know that sleep apnea, Melatonin levels, and Serotonin levels are some.

          2. “what causes elevated homocysteine levels? Most commonly, an inadequate intake of B vitamins in combination with genetic factors can affect the body’s absorption and use of folic acid, which causes homocysteine levels to spike.

            Some other causes of elevated homocysteine levels include both stress and coffee consumption. So, the more coffee you consume daily, the higher your risk will be of having a high level of homocysteine. Certain medications, low levels of the thyroid hormone, kidney disease, and psoriasis are also contributing factors to increased levels of homocysteine.

            In addition to not eating foods with the right nutrients, the chances for developing a homocysteine deficiency increase as you age. Men tend to have a higher risk, especially those who smoke.

            Others who are likely to run low on these essential nutrients include pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers; alcoholics or drug users; anyone with kidney disease or on kidney dialysis; and those with diabetes, thyroid disorders, or hormone imbalances.”
            https://www.doctorshealthpress.com/heart-health-articles/elevated-homocysteine-levels/

      2. “So, does flaxseed lower Homocysteine?”

        Deb, I do believe it does if for no other reason than omega-3 content. Listening to an old lecture by Dr. Greger, two of the missing links in a “vegan diet” (not necessarily a healthy one) where people continued to have high homocysteine levels was not enough omega-3’s and not enough B12. In the regular westernized dieters, their issues with homocysteine was not enough omega-3’s and not enough folate. So Omega-3’s, B12, and folate are essential in keeping homocysteine levels in check.

    2. Yes keep the walnuts. I eat a lot of both walnuts and flax and I lose weight easily when I do. HDL shot up to over 85 from 50’s and ldl dropped to from 123 to 80.
      Triglycerides dropped from 123 to 64.
      Of course that’s a good healthy diet but, by no no means I could be considered vegan. But nuts in general appear to make me less hungry easier satisfied later in the day so I eat less.

      1. David Armstrong, yes, but you are male, athletic (if I recall your posts correctly), and may or may not have genetic predisposition towards high cholesterol and/or hypothyroidism. A postmenopausal woman burdened with those factors is in a different situation.

      2. David,

        What I am going to say is that I have no idea whether I will lose weight or gain weight.

        I only eat walnuts or flax seeds together in oatmeal, which I haven’t eaten at all in probably a year.

        I am fairly sure I was losing weight at the beginning of this process and I was eating oatmeal with walnuts and flax seeds back then.

        What I am going to say is that my scale swings by 8 pounds and I have evidence that I saw the scale dip to 20 pounds lower than when I started at one point, but that would have been a scale swing anomaly which I did notate on Sparkpeople, but which probably disappeared the next day and it is about when I stopped using Sparkpeople, probably because I had to weight to actually lose those 8 pounds for real and then some after that to make any more changes. It is likely that at one point I had lost maybe 15 pounds.

        I know I gained 10 pounds when I was using the wrong plant-milk, which may not be a real 10-pound gain because scale swing would be on that end, too.

        I did lose those 10 pounds back, but, yes, it is so confusing, in a year and a half, I may have lost some weight, but it is going to be a stupid, complicated mathematical process of figuring out how to figure out how much was real loss and how much was day for night and how much was scale swing.

        Last night, day versus night had that same type of big difference.

        Some of us have to choose the highest number and stick with that and not try to figure out which number to use when I lose 8 pounds tomorrow, then gain 6 pounds the next day.

        And, yes, there is the did I eat or drink anything and did I go to the bathroom, on top of the scale problems.

        Nope, I have no idea.

        I think I lost weight going off of fats, but I really do think I was losing weight back when I was eating grains and nuts and flaxseeds, but that was a year ago.

        I don’t eat potatoes or grains and haven’t for most of this time and I do believe that I was losing weight when I did, but I am doing my own elimination diet trying to see what helps me actually lose weight. Going off of fat altogether looks promising, but I remember thinking things looked promising back when I was eating my oatmeal.

        Having put that earlier time on Sparkpeople, I know that I was eating beans and rice and oatmeal with walnuts and flaxseed.

        I just don’t know how much of the weight loss was real.

  4. Outliers in studies tend to be people who did not follow protocol or mislead researchers when answering questions. If the two people could not be replicated elsewhere then they are not true results.

    1. Hello Judy,

      As stated at the end of the video, the average weight loss was actually quite small, so I would not expect very quick or dramatic results. How long have you been consuming flax? Flax is so great for many health issues, such as blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc and just because you haven’t lost weight yet, that does not mean you should stop eating it! Stick with it and you may end up losing a few pounds, but if not, then you’re still going to benefit your overall health.

      I hope this helps,
      Dr. Matt, ND

  5. In Germany we often speak also about the toxines in flax seeds. They can be useful for the gut when eated with water, but you should not grind them.

      1. I buy whole seeds and grind them with a coffee grinder, about 7 seconds for a half cup.

        Yes, there is a video about cyanide up there under Doctor’s Note that is worth reviewing, if that is what you meant by toxins, Viviana. But the video explains that you’d have to eat a whole cup of high-content-cyanide flax meal before you’d elevate your blood levels into the “caution” zone.

    1. We just want to limit the amount of ground flax we consume raw. However, cooking flax (with moisture) will destroy the toxins (cyanide). There are so many healthy reasons to add 1TB flax per day that Dr. Greger has included them in his Daily Dozen recommendation.
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/should-we-be-concerned-about-the-cyanide-from-flaxseedhttps://nutritionfacts.org/video/should-we-be-concerned-about-the-cyanide-from-flaxseed/
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-well-does-cooking-destroy-the-cyanide-in-flaxseeds/
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/just-the-flax-maam/

    2. Viviana, you’re referring to the cyanide found in flax, but Germany is wrong in their assessment of flaxseeds. It’s a very safe and extremely health-promoting food and if you do not grind them up, you may as well not eat them because you don’t absorb their omega-3’s or any of their nutrients because the shell does not break down and it simply passes through your body unabsorbed. Lots of plants have things like naturally occurring cyanide, it doesn’t mean the plant is harmful and acts like if you were to take actual cyanide. So often we don’t even absorb heavy metals in plants due to all of their antioxidants and fiber: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/cadmium-and-cancer-plant-vs-animal-foods/
      Studies have been done on flax consumption and so far, from what Dr. Greger has stated in an interview, they’ve been done on 1 tbsp of ground flax per day and there were no issues with cyanide toxicity. I have taken at least two tablespoons of ground flax per day consecutively for years and sometimes 3 or more–I haven’t had any issues and when I had my blood tested I had zero issues with cyanide (I had them check for it specifically due to learning about its presence in flax and I was eating mounds of flax at the time).

  6. I am going for the protection of my liver from fatty liver disease. Will add flax to my daily oatmeal for sure.

    If weight loss happens that would be great, but my liver health is foremost for me.

    A proud and healthy monthly supporter of Nutritionfacts.org

      1. DEB, what other items are being added to our daily list. I understand there are additions but I don’t know what they are. Any ideas? I want to start sooner rather then later. Thanks.

        1. Ruthie,

          Can I ask how long you have been Whole Food Plant-Based or if you are Whole Food Plant-Based?

          Did you start with a doctor or a diet?

          I will put Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen up top. His Daily Dozen relates to the studies on this site.

          He puts the superfoods and I am going to say that if you are eating your dark green leafy vegetables and your berries and cruciferous and beans and flaxseed and spices like turmeric and ginger, you already will be doing great.

          Beyond that, there are the other doctors and leaders and they all have cookbooks and so do the YouTube people.

          Dr. McDougall The Starch Solution
          Dr. Fuhrman Eat To Live
          Dr. Ornish Undo
          Dr. Esselstyn Reversing Heart Disease
          Rip Esselstyn Engine 2 Diet
          T. Colin Campbell The China Study, Whole
          Dr. Barnard Reversing Diabetes, The Cheese Trap
          Forks Over Knives
          The Food Revolution Network
          Vegan Paleo
          Vegan Keto
          Raw
          Dr. Brenda Davis
          Dr. Pam Popper
          The Hawaiian Diet
          Volumetrics / Calorie Density (I can’t remember the doctor behind that, but Dr. Jeff Novack / Dr. Doug Lisle give good explanations. That diet often doesn’t have nuts. Versus Nutritarian, which has nuts, but in measured quantities.

          I am someone who alternates between all of them. I bought all of their cookbooks, even though I don’t like to cook.

          Right now, I am superfood oriented. I am trying to heal my brain and have been focusing on Kale, Blueberries, Turmeric, Broccoli Sprouts and I have been trying to remember flaxseeds.

          Currently, I am closer to Nutritarian, but I tend to eat too much avocado and too many nuts when I am doing that diet, which doesn’t help me lose weight, but the superfood focus has been seriously helping my brain. If you are nutritarian, you have to limit the calories of your fats versus the other diets, which you mostly just eat as much as you want (because their diets are low in fats with very limited nuts and avocados and no oil)

          I guess what I am asking is what is it that you are worried about health-wise?

          And I ask because most people who don’t have diseases can make this switch and not worry as much which foods to eat as long as it is whole plant food.

          If you are worried about your brain, welcome to the club.

          That is what I have been working on very much because I come from having my brain break down. I also come from the Standard American Diet and I gained a few pounds every year and dieted and gained more. I am postmenopausal and it is harder for me to lose weight now than it ever was. I used to be able to go straight down. But I wasn’t using whole foods or plant foods and I would gain all the weight back and then some.

          Many of the people here are not needing weight loss at all.

          Brain health is something which is hotly debated within the Whole Food Plant-Based community.

          If you want to know why I eat Kale, Dr. Greger has a video on Lutein from foods and the brain. There is also a video on Blueberries and the brain. There is an awesome video on Broccoli sprouts and the brains of Autistic young people and another awesome one about Turmeric and Alzheimer’s patients.

          If you tell me what you are looking for or what you are worried about, I will gladly help you if I can and there are moderators who will also help you and Dr. Greger will hear your topics and he may do a video on it.

          1. DEB, thank you for your kindness in responding. I’ve been WFPB for too many years to count. I’ve read and own a good portion of those books listed, all underlined and re-read. — I’m in my mid 80’s, normal weight and will keep doing what I’ve been doing. Believe me it works! It takes perseverance! I can’t say 100% as I occasionally have a piece of steamed salmon and only one cup of coffee in the morning. Dr. McDougall’s Program For A Healthy Heart. That was an eye opener. Now, Dr. G has put it all into perspective. I just finished UnDo. I prepare and shop for all my foods from the produce section. Also Dr Campbell China Study is convincing. My question is that I read somewhere that the daily Greger list was going to have a change. It might be in the near future—I was curious as to what it might be or where did I get it from. I use that list as “what one more thing can I have” to my meal that will make it a bit healthier. Be well! Thanks again.

            1. Ruthie, I remember reading that too recently and I can’t find it. Anyway, my hunch is that it will be revealed with the new book, and rather than a food maybe it’s to do with timing/fasting. New videos will come out before the book release so we just have to wait and see. Anyway, sounds like you are doing great!

          2. Do you recommend any one diet plan over the others above? I have been WFPB since July, and was hoping this would finally help me lose the 10-15 that I would like to lose, but I have gained! I have reduced the avocado to 1/2 a day, (unless I run out, then it’s none), very little processed, a Light mozzarella cheese stick 3x a week. Mostly whole veggies, lettuce, cucumber, hummus, salsa w/ multigrain tortilla chips, very little bread, potatoes.barely eating 1200 calories a day. Any suggestions? I take 88MCG thyroid.

  7. Were the flax seed studies showing 20 pounds of weight loss just flukes?
    ——————————————————————————————
    Hope it wasn’t from flukes!!!
    __________________________________

    New research led by University of California, Berkeley, scientists provides a roadmap for how entrepreneurs can harness freshwater prawns’ voracious appetite for snails to reduce the transmission of these parasites, also known as “blood flukes,”

    https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-07/uoc–hfp072219.php

      1. That is so great that you have your own greenhouse.

        That must make this walk so much less expensive.

        My friend has a cheap portable greenhouse and she loves it. She loves having each thing in its own pot and finds watering pots and keeping critters away from the pots easier than gardens.

        I still can’t afford it.

        I have been trying to figure out how to do everything. It is hard.

        1. Deb,

          I don’t have my own greenhouse, but I SO very much wish I did!! However the watercress I get from the company Pete’s Living Greens is greenhouse and hydroponically grown. Those are the ones in stores near me.

          It really would be so cost-effective in the long run and I love fresh produce so to be able to grow all winter would be amazing. I can’t afford it either, but if I’m ever able to I will definitely take it up.

          I do garden in the spring/summer and into fall however long things keep growing and it’s awesome. Kale is one of the main things I grow and it is one of the easiest crops to grow! I highly recommend it.

        1. Barb, I’ll contact the company I get it from. Mine is USDA organic so I’m not sure they’d be allowed to use fish for fertilizer. Thanks for the heads up, though.

  8. I came across a nutritionist blogger who was concerned about weight gain from the oil in flaxseed. Apparently, from this report, not the case. Also, another food (white potato) has a bad reputation (undeserved) for weight gain–even a trash (like white bread) food. Not the case at all. I buy them in 10 lb. bags and gobble them up because they are a comfort food—and, it’s such a good food, one might be able to live off them for awhile.

    1. Dan, I do so well on potatoes. They’re so satiating by my body seems to burn them right off. Almost all foods have oils, we need some fat especially ALA… shouldn’t even have to point that out in this day and age. It’s terrifying and kind of sickening that a “nutritionist blogger” would be spewing out such ignorance and dangerously misleading information, yet sadly not nearly as surprising as it should be.

  9. I wonder what the next best thing would be, for people like myself who are allergic to flaxseed. In fact, this is the only real “food allergy” that I have, or at least the only one I’m aware of.

      1. * Sorry, should have clarified your purpose in wanting a replacement for flax. If it’s to do with the weightloss idea, there is no replacement I am aware of. A wfpb diet emphasizing vegetables, particularly green leafies, and heavy on the green and yellow veg will help.

        For the purpose of getting ALA (omega 3) the foods I listed above are good sources with good ratios of omega 3 to 6.

        1. Thank you. The omega-3 content is certainly part of it, but not the main part, since I do supplement with algal DHA. I guess the lignans are the thing I’d really like to get, but I just don’t tolerate flaxseed very well. If it’s a minor ingredient in, say, whole grain bread, I can handle that. But if I add even a half teaspoon to my oatmeal my throat starts to swell and itch, and then I get stomach (or intestinal, who knows?) discomfort that can last, intermittently, for a day or two. I’ve considered whether the benefits make it worth putting up with the discomfort, but common sense says you just don’t eat things that hurt you.

    1. For the high omega-3, chia–it’s also been shown to help with weight loss. Hemp is the third highest omega-3 seed I believe and it also contains the rare GLA and SDA.

  10. Years ago, Dr. Fuhrman advised that we should eat a tablespoon of ground flax seeds each day for the lignans, which appear to reduce the risk of breast cancer in post menopausal women. My husband also eats flax every day to help his prostate. Flax seeds are the richest source of lignans (something like 8x more lignans than sesame seeds, the next richest source). I don’t know if the science is conclusive on their anti-cancer benefits, but I plan to continue including a small amount in my diet. I figure I need all the help I can get to counteract the decades of abuse I put myself through before adopting a WFPB diet.

  11. Dr G has made references to overweight NAFLD patients benefitting from Flaxseed, mainly because flaxseed has helped them lose weight. I am regular weight long time Ovo-lacto vegetarian, who just converted to WFPB diet with as much food groups in daily dozen I can manage to eat. I transitioned because my abdomen CT had shown some fat in my liver. My BMI is 24, waist/height ratio 0.5. Given the fat in my liver is not tied to me being overweight, how could flaxseed benefit me? Is there any data that shows plant based fat not being dangerous for the liver? For NAFLD. I suspect my drinking heavy sugar drinks had been what had caused some fat in my liver. Not to the degree to upset my liver functioning. Now I want to be as gentle to my liver as possible.

    1. Good for you for converting to a WFPB diet. I could find no study distinguishing source of fat that accumulates in the liver However these words from one study may be reassuring: https://gi.org/topics/fatty-liver-disease-nafld/: “Although having fat in the liver is not normal, by itself it probably does not damage the liver.” Since you now are eliminating the eggs and diary, your cholesterol and triglycerides may come down which can help with NAFLD. Further information on reversing symptoms can be found here: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease
      Lowering your cholesterol and triglycerides

      Finally while the fat in your liver may not be tied to overweight, flaxseed has many benefits beyond weight loss so do keep taking it. Check out this video.
      https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/flax-seeds/

  12. Holy crap. This man delivers valuable information for free and there’s not a single post on here that actually has to do with flaxseeds or nutrition? What the hell is wrong with people? If you don’t like his delivery, read the damn transcript.

  13. OMG! I generally expect to read more thoughtful postings on this site (postings about nutrition coming from mature adults) and can’t believe this discussion about style of presentation! How is it helpful to us to know how someone feels about a presenter’s delivery? I thought the subject was flaxseeds. If you don’t like the delivery – read the transcript – but please keep mean criticims to yourself.
    We are so fortunate to be privy to the work that this man does.

  14. After watching that, I’m almost afraid to keep sprinkling ground flaxseed on my peanut butter on whole wheat toast, since I only weigh 96 lbs and sure don’t want to lose any of the weight I fight to keep.

  15. i just started putting a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into my smoothies in the morning a couple days ago and my stomach hurts SO BAD since i started doing that… any idea why?

  16. I have been on the WFPB diet since July. Barely eating 1200 calories a day, because I am just so full. I work out every day, eat only occasional processed (Amy’s Breakfast Bowls, JUST eggs, etc.), very little bread, pasta or potatoes. A low fat mozzarella cheese stick 3x a week for protein. Yet I have gained 1.5 lbs. I am female, upper 50’s. What am I doing wrong? The frustration is immeasurable. I had so hoped that this would be the answer. I will start flaxseed tomorrow, in hopes of getting to the 20-lb weight loss. Anyone else have suggestions?

  17. These are the things that come to mind:
    1) You’re not calculating your calories correctly. Get an accurate food scale and weigh everything that goes into your mouth. Calculate calories carefully.
    2) “workout” can mean anything. From running 4 miles every day like I do, which has a significant affect on metabolism, down to 15 minutes of stretching which has zero affect on metabolism.
    3) Cheese is mostly fat and cholesterol with a sprinkling of bovine leukemia virus. I’m puzzled where you got the notion this would benefit you in any way or why you need to somehow supplement protein. Beef is 42% of calories from protein while spinach is 51%. Beans are 30-40%. Wouldn’t that be a more logical choice? Also, you need about 5% of calories from protein. Any more (animal based protein) increases risk for premature death and disease. A varied plant based diet contains about 5% protein.
    4) If you’re eating cheese then you’re not on a WFPB diet.
    5) Always make sure you consult with a licensed doctor when doing weight loss to make sure you’re a good candidate. Find a doc that is familiar with the clinical publications regarding WFPB eating is most helpful.
    6) Don’t weigh yourself every day. Once per week is usually best. Early morning before eating/drinking anything and after a bowel movement.

  18. I found that if I eat Flax seeds I get terrible pains in my stomach no matter the quantity. What could I substitute instead of flax to fulfil my daily dozen?

  19. Hello Leonie, thanks for your comment here.

    Are you trying ground flax seeds?

    In this video https://nutritionfacts.org/video/dr-gregers-daily-dozen-checklist-2/ Dr- Greger mentions “Everyone should try to incorporate one tablespoon of ground flax seeds into their daily diet, in addition to a serving of nuts or other seeds. A quarter-cup of nuts is considered a serving, or two tablespoons of nut or seed butters, including peanut butter. (Chestnuts and coconuts, though, don’t nutritionally count as nuts.)”

    So, I’d say that first of all, check if you’re eating ground flax seeds, as seed itself can be really hard to digest for some. You can also try to eat really small portion and increase gradually while your stomach get use to… Then, try to stick to the other foods mention by Dr. Greger.

    For more info about the daily dozen go to:
    https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/daily-dozen/

    Hope it helps.

  20. Hello Dr Gregor

    My Mum, 69 years old, has COPD, emphysema. She is in the advanced stage. She was diagnosed 10 years ago and she is on oxygen since then plus she takes the inhaler drugs and diuretics. She is progressively losing weight. About three months ago her weight was 75 kg and now she weights 44 kg. Is there a way to help her? What does the research say? Her height is 155 cm.

    Regards,
    Andrew

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