How Well Does Cooking Destroy the Cyanide in Flax Seeds?

How Well Does Cooking Destroy the Cyanide in Flax Seeds?
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Are flax seeds like bitter almonds, where just a few ounces could kill you, or more like regular almonds, where regular dietary intake wouldn’t even come close?

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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.

Sweden’s dietary guidelines are pioneering in many ways; for example, encouraging people to decrease their climate impact by choosing more plant-based foods, which tend to produce greatly fewer greenhouse gas emissions. But I was surprised by this page on the official Swedish National Food Agency website, which translates to cyanogenic glycosides and hydrogen cyanide, encouraging people to stay away from ground flax seed for fear of cyanide toxicity. As in the ground flax seeds I encourage everyone to eat every day. You can see why this was the first question I got when I spoke in Stockholm.

Was the Swedish government onto something? Had I just been duped by Big Flax-funded researchers who claimed you could eat pounds of ground flax seeds a day without worrying—more than 150 tablespoons a day? First, some background.

 As many as one in five plants that we eat produce cyanide. In fact, if you look at the major food crops in the world, more than half are “cyanogenic,” meaning cyanide producing. But unlike toxic elements, like lead, mercury, arsenic that can’t be broken down into anything, cyanide is an organic molecule—one carbon atom attached to one nitrogen atom. In this state, it can definitely be toxic, but broken down or complexed to something else, and it loses its toxicity. And we have an enzyme in our body that does just that: a “cyanide detoxifying enzyme.” And, that’s just one of “five main ways” our body can detoxify cyanide. It does require protein to do it, though; and so, that’s why you can read about chronic cyanide toxicity among malnourished populations in Africa trying to live off of improperly processed cassava root. But as long as we’re getting adequate protein in our diet, our body can detoxify the normal amounts of cyanide we eat every day.

Now there is a rare, congenital genetic condition called Leber’s disease, where you’re born without the ability to detoxify cyanide; and indeed, yeah you could go blind drinking apple cider or something, but otherwise our bodies evolved to be cyanide-detoxifying machines. But, obviously, there’s a limit. For example, a case of cyanide poisoning after “bitter almond ingestion.” Not regular almonds, which produce about 40 times less cyanide, but bitter almonds—which you can’t even buy. They’re used in flavor manufacturing. But, if you did, eating 50 of them could kill you, or even just a handful for a small child. This suggests that eating 2,000 regular almonds at one sitting could also be bad news.

You can’t buy bitter almonds, but you can buy apricots, and apricot kernels, which are the seeds inside the stone, actually have pretty toxic levels, and have indeed been implicated in cases of “severe cyanide poisoning,” all linked to the “Laetrile: the cult of cyanide,” “Promoting poison for profit” that I talked about previously; so, I’m totally sympathetic to regulators wanting to take a precautionary approach. But are flax seeds like bitter almonds, where just a few ounces could kill you, or more like regular almonds, where regular dietary intake wouldn’t even come close?

Although the fact that flax seeds can produce cyanide sounds like it would be “a significant health concern, it is not for several reasons,” says flax industry-funded scientists. “First, the adult human body has the ability to detoxify [up to 100 mg of cyanide per day].” That’s where they come up with their pounds of flaxseeds a day are safe number. And if you wanted to eat more than those totally unrealistic 150 tablespoons a day, you could just eat them in baked goods, since “cooking destroys [the] cyanide.” And, eating seven or eight tablespoons of raw flax seeds doesn’t even bump “urinary thiocyanate levels,” which is an indicator of cyanide exposure—so, it doesn’t even look like your body is exposed to it. “Thus, the toxicity of flax seed from [cyanogenic glycosides] is not, evidently, a realistic health threat.” Okay, let’s unpack that.

The cooking part is mostly true. Yes, bake muffins with even like a quarter-cup of ground flax each for 15 to 18 minutes at about 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and the cyanide-forming compounds are gone. Looks like the same thing happens with baked bread. But, bake ground flax seeds on their own, and even an hour at 350 degrees only wipes out 20 percent; though baking them whole wipes out 80 percent, and what, baking in bread or muffins wipes out 100 percent? How does that make any sense? It’s the moisture. It’s heat plus water that wipes out the cyanide. Boiling for just five minutes can wipe it out, like when making hot cereal or something. And so, yes, it’s true in most cases that cooking eliminates the cyanide compounds, because it typically starts out in a batter, as an egg substitute, or baking crackers; the dough starts out moist. And so, yes, in those cases the cyanide is gone upon cooking. But you can’t just spread ground flax seeds on a baking sheet, because they dry out so fast that only a minority of the cyanide is lost. But, look, why does it matter if your body doesn’t even seem to notice seven or eight tablespoons of raw? But that’s not true. “Urinary thiocyanate excretion” doubled at that level, though that’s just a sign your body is actively detoxifying it. And if we can detoxify a kilo worth of flax a day, what’s the problem?

Well, even if the “adult human body has the ability to detoxify up to 100 mg of cyanide a day,” first of all, kids eat flax too. Second of all, a kilo has more than the 100 you said we could detoxify—about 50 percent more—and, I’m not interested in how much we can detoxify “up to.” For safety, you’re interested in the worst-case scenario, not the best-case scenario. Would someone please just give people different doses of flax seeds and just measure how much cyanide ends up in their blood? But that’s never been done… until now, which we’ll cover next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Marco Verch via flickr. 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.

Sweden’s dietary guidelines are pioneering in many ways; for example, encouraging people to decrease their climate impact by choosing more plant-based foods, which tend to produce greatly fewer greenhouse gas emissions. But I was surprised by this page on the official Swedish National Food Agency website, which translates to cyanogenic glycosides and hydrogen cyanide, encouraging people to stay away from ground flax seed for fear of cyanide toxicity. As in the ground flax seeds I encourage everyone to eat every day. You can see why this was the first question I got when I spoke in Stockholm.

Was the Swedish government onto something? Had I just been duped by Big Flax-funded researchers who claimed you could eat pounds of ground flax seeds a day without worrying—more than 150 tablespoons a day? First, some background.

 As many as one in five plants that we eat produce cyanide. In fact, if you look at the major food crops in the world, more than half are “cyanogenic,” meaning cyanide producing. But unlike toxic elements, like lead, mercury, arsenic that can’t be broken down into anything, cyanide is an organic molecule—one carbon atom attached to one nitrogen atom. In this state, it can definitely be toxic, but broken down or complexed to something else, and it loses its toxicity. And we have an enzyme in our body that does just that: a “cyanide detoxifying enzyme.” And, that’s just one of “five main ways” our body can detoxify cyanide. It does require protein to do it, though; and so, that’s why you can read about chronic cyanide toxicity among malnourished populations in Africa trying to live off of improperly processed cassava root. But as long as we’re getting adequate protein in our diet, our body can detoxify the normal amounts of cyanide we eat every day.

Now there is a rare, congenital genetic condition called Leber’s disease, where you’re born without the ability to detoxify cyanide; and indeed, yeah you could go blind drinking apple cider or something, but otherwise our bodies evolved to be cyanide-detoxifying machines. But, obviously, there’s a limit. For example, a case of cyanide poisoning after “bitter almond ingestion.” Not regular almonds, which produce about 40 times less cyanide, but bitter almonds—which you can’t even buy. They’re used in flavor manufacturing. But, if you did, eating 50 of them could kill you, or even just a handful for a small child. This suggests that eating 2,000 regular almonds at one sitting could also be bad news.

You can’t buy bitter almonds, but you can buy apricots, and apricot kernels, which are the seeds inside the stone, actually have pretty toxic levels, and have indeed been implicated in cases of “severe cyanide poisoning,” all linked to the “Laetrile: the cult of cyanide,” “Promoting poison for profit” that I talked about previously; so, I’m totally sympathetic to regulators wanting to take a precautionary approach. But are flax seeds like bitter almonds, where just a few ounces could kill you, or more like regular almonds, where regular dietary intake wouldn’t even come close?

Although the fact that flax seeds can produce cyanide sounds like it would be “a significant health concern, it is not for several reasons,” says flax industry-funded scientists. “First, the adult human body has the ability to detoxify [up to 100 mg of cyanide per day].” That’s where they come up with their pounds of flaxseeds a day are safe number. And if you wanted to eat more than those totally unrealistic 150 tablespoons a day, you could just eat them in baked goods, since “cooking destroys [the] cyanide.” And, eating seven or eight tablespoons of raw flax seeds doesn’t even bump “urinary thiocyanate levels,” which is an indicator of cyanide exposure—so, it doesn’t even look like your body is exposed to it. “Thus, the toxicity of flax seed from [cyanogenic glycosides] is not, evidently, a realistic health threat.” Okay, let’s unpack that.

The cooking part is mostly true. Yes, bake muffins with even like a quarter-cup of ground flax each for 15 to 18 minutes at about 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and the cyanide-forming compounds are gone. Looks like the same thing happens with baked bread. But, bake ground flax seeds on their own, and even an hour at 350 degrees only wipes out 20 percent; though baking them whole wipes out 80 percent, and what, baking in bread or muffins wipes out 100 percent? How does that make any sense? It’s the moisture. It’s heat plus water that wipes out the cyanide. Boiling for just five minutes can wipe it out, like when making hot cereal or something. And so, yes, it’s true in most cases that cooking eliminates the cyanide compounds, because it typically starts out in a batter, as an egg substitute, or baking crackers; the dough starts out moist. And so, yes, in those cases the cyanide is gone upon cooking. But you can’t just spread ground flax seeds on a baking sheet, because they dry out so fast that only a minority of the cyanide is lost. But, look, why does it matter if your body doesn’t even seem to notice seven or eight tablespoons of raw? But that’s not true. “Urinary thiocyanate excretion” doubled at that level, though that’s just a sign your body is actively detoxifying it. And if we can detoxify a kilo worth of flax a day, what’s the problem?

Well, even if the “adult human body has the ability to detoxify up to 100 mg of cyanide a day,” first of all, kids eat flax too. Second of all, a kilo has more than the 100 you said we could detoxify—about 50 percent more—and, I’m not interested in how much we can detoxify “up to.” For safety, you’re interested in the worst-case scenario, not the best-case scenario. Would someone please just give people different doses of flax seeds and just measure how much cyanide ends up in their blood? But that’s never been done… until now, which we’ll cover next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Marco Verch via flickr. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

So Should We Be Concerned About the Cyanide from Flax Seeds? in raw flax? Watch the thrilling conclusion in my next video.

In this video, I mentioned Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen Checklist, where you can see my recommendation of one tablespoon ground flax seed per day.

What was that about apricot seeds? See Do Apricot Seeds Work as an Alternative Cancer Cure? and Does [Laetrile] Amygdalin or Vitamin B-17 Work as an Alternative Cancer Cure?

Why do I recommend a daily serving of flax seeds? See what the science says:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

86 responses to “How Well Does Cooking Destroy the Cyanide in Flax Seeds?

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    1. Netgogate,

      That was interesting.

      So, from what I read at National Geographic, we just missed having language be:

      Would you like some testicles with dinner tonight?

  1. Isn’t good oil in flax seed damaged by heat? I really appreciate all the good science brought together on this site, but sometimes it confuses me. It seems to me that you recommend several high oil foods that have been roasted, like nuts, peanut butter and coffee. Then you say deep fried food is bad. What is the connection?

    1. Marcy,

      Pretty sure he recommends nuts raw and coffee as lightly roasted as possible.

      I am not sure about the peanut butter recommendation, but I do know that I either use powder peanut butter or the kind which is just ground peanuts from Whole Foods bulk department. Mentally trying to remember if it said, “roasted” or not.

      1. Roasting doesn’t add to the health benefits.

        If you had a disease where you couldn’t metabolize cyanide, learning that heating the flax destroys cyanide would be supremely useful information.

        I am not sure what heating it does to the “useful” oils, but in the breast cancer study, they used flaxseed muffins, so flaxseeds don’t lose their usefulness when heated.

        That being said, if you are just eating 1 or 2 spoonsful, eat it however you want.

        If you prefer them raw, eat them raw.

        1. My Cantonese wife has always eaten raw flaxseed blended with fruit,our breakfast, while she was dealing with stage one breast cancer now gone,she is convinced that eating steamed ‘fat hen’ was an important part of her food, mentioned on Chinese websites as beneficial food when afflicted with breast cancer.

          1. Tony,

            Well, I have not seen any steamed fat hen studies, but we do know the flaxseed caused tumors to shrink between biopsy and scheduled surgery.

              1. Marilyn,
                How funny! I have been pulling that out of my flower beds and cursing them every summer!
                We call it pig weed here in Ohio. They are incredibly invasive and hard to eliminate often growing right within the perennials.
                Thanks for responding.

                1. Lida, check the weed Science Society of America website weed gallery to view images. Common names can be used interchangeably, what is commonly known as pigweed is not the same plant as lambsquarters.

                  1. what is commonly known as pigweed is not the same plant as lambsquarters.
                    ——————————————————————————————————
                    Correct, pigweed, aka careless weed, in cotton farming country is a hard-to-control weed that grows 6′ tall in ideal conditions. To my knowledge it is not toxic as animals (pigs) do eat it, but isn’t eaten by humans. Once it gets mature, it is really hard to chop down with a hoe.

                    1. Another animal that heads for the red-root pigweed first before grazing on “normal fare” are sheep. I’ve rented out our fenced pasture to neigbors with sheep, and that’s what the sheep take down first. It’s kind of funny to watch since sheep are notoriously near-sided to begin with.

    2. Marcy Dr. G doesn’t recommend high “oil” foods like nuts, because they aren’t high OIL, they are high good fats.
      There’s a huge difference between oil and fat.
      The fat in nuts and seeds are natural and in their original state so Whole Foods.
      Oil is a highly processed endeavor where all the nutrients and fiber are removed. Not a whole food.
      Oil causes inflammatory and hurts the endothelial cells in arteries and vessels.

        1. Julot – Thanks for posting this information. This is very new information and worth taking the 20 minutes to view the video. I can’t wait to see Dr. Esselstyne’s results on this new leg of research.
          I really think Dr. G ought to view this video and get in on the discussion with the plant-based Doc’s. Dr. McDougall will be glad to be vindicated I think!! :-)

          1. Dr Esselstyn know it pretty well because he recommened his patients with cardiovascular problems to also avoid all nuts and seeds and juice and smoothies ideally.

    3. Marcy, generally speaking, Dr Greger recommends using raw nuts/nut butters as we see here in one of his recipes https://nutritionfacts.org/recipe/almond-milk/ He has mentioned in a previous video that while he used to love roasted walnuts on his salads, he now eats them raw to reduce the AGEs. He has videos about advanced glycation end products, and you can download tables showing amounts in commonly used foods.

  2. Hi everyone. Please forgive me for being off topic. Dr. G recommends B12. In the International Journal of Cancer 2018, Fanidi A.et al. Article “Is high vitamin B12 status a cause of lung cancer”. Their study answers in the affirmative (for men). Understandably the poision is in the dose. Are there no options. Thanks.

  3. This video ends on a cliff hanger. Is the next video missing? Or just not made yet? I’m very interested in this topic. Thanks for your help!

  4. I just checked the date, and since it is today I’ll keep my counsel and be patient for the next video. This is great stuff!

    1. Marie, it won’t be until next Monday.

      New videos come on Mondays and Wednesdays.

      Fridays are Flashback Fridays.

      Tuesdays and Thursdays are new blog entry days.

  5. Okay, so I watched the video and got up and grabbed a bowl and made some oatmeal. Just a simple version with ground flax chia mix, 100% cacao, and walnuts, but I finally did it.

    I have been eating a handful of Mary’s Gone Crackers to get some flax, but I don’t know how many flaxseeds are in those.

    1. Deb,

      Better watch out! Oatmeal’s addictive. I have it the same way for a few months at a time and then I change to a new way for awhile. I like it with all kinds of fruit–different ones each stretch of “same bowl” of oatmeal–and I add in a spice or herb for my daily dose of one of Greger’s daily dozen. For awhile it was ginger with pears (during pear season,) and right now it’s oregano and wild blueberries. Yeah, my son thinks it’s weird, but I like it–a lot–every day now for more than a month….

      1. I don’t understand why, but I just hate oatmeal. I’ve tried and tried to like it – but I just don’t. But I do like whole oat groats and cook them up mixed in with rice along with rye berries. A nice mix. :-).
        Funny how that works.

  6. Does cooking flax seeds — fresh whole or freshly ground — cause the Omega 3 fatty acids to oxidize? Also, is ground flax damages by extended exposure (less than a week, more like 4-5 days) to vinegar (as part of a batch-made salad of frozen greens)? Many thanks!

    1. Dr. Greger did an interview where he said that most of the nutritional benefits of grinding flaxseeds last for much longer than the flaxseed oil. Maybe it was his Mic The Vegan interview.

      I don’t know about oxidation. I can give this “Recent research studies have shown that ground flax can be added to baked foods without sacrificing large amounts of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), their showcase omega-3 fatty acid that accounts for over half of their total fat content. Oven temperatures of 300F (150C) – even over several hours of baking time – do not appear to substantially reduce the amount of ALA in baked products.”

      http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=81

      They go onto say that even combining grinding flaxseed and heating it only lowers the ALA by 4 to 8%, so maybe just add an extra spoonful or something.

      1. Thank you, Deb! I wonder, since most baking is done at 350-400, if that makes a difference. Probably not, since several hours at 300 aren’t problematic. Whomever did the study isn’t a baker, though!!! Thank you so much for your kind response! Best to you!

    2. Hello Anne,

      This is a fantastic question as I also used to be concerned about the oxidation of the ALA in ground flax. Flaxseed oil seems to oxidize and go rancid fairly quickly if cooked or not refrigerated and this idea has somehow been extrapolated to ground flaxseed. Fortunately we have research showing that cooking ground flaxseed does not decrease the ALA content and I have linked just one of the many articles below. As for your question about vinegar, I am not sure of the answer to that question, but I would assume that it would have no effect on the ground flaxseed.

      I hope this helps,

      Matt, Health Support

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11879055

  7. This confused me too. I take flax oil but do not cook with it. Healthline.com mention high smoke point and forming harmful compound when heated. Maybe flax meal is used in baking is different. Would appreciate more investigation on this. Thanks

    1. Yes, I would like more information on this too. I think maybe with a diagnosis of Chronic Kidney Disease Stage 3, I am better off with unheated flax oil rather than flax seeds because the oil is unlikely to contain the same high amount of phosphorus as the flax seeds, I don’t think. Please clarify.

    2. In all the discussions where the topic of flax came up with the plant-based docs, they made a point of saying flax oil is not recommended. It is more unstable and easily goes rancid. Ground flax in an air-tight container will stay good even for months on the kitchen counter (I keep it in the freezer). Ground flax, as today’s video shows, is fine when used in baking.

    3. Oil of any type, is not a whole plant food. It’s a highly refined, edible industrial product. None of our nutrition doctors recommend consuming oil.

      1. Agreed.

        Though if you desperately want to use oil, Charlotte Gerson said that her father tested all oils and all of them caused cancer to grow except flaxseed oil.

        My personal extra confusion addition is that I did see one woman who had her tumor grow faster with flaxseed oil and cottage cheese.

        My thought was that it might be like CBD oil – sometimes the tumor shrinks, sometimes the tumor grows, sometimes the tumor shrinks for 2 weeks, then grows like gangbusters.

      2. Blair, some oils that are extracted using chemicals do resemble your description.

        But those that are attained by cold press are unadulterated and are as natural as the oil would be if we ate the food it came from. Granted it becomes more concentrated which might lead to over-indulgence.

        In my case, I do not mind adding a healthy oil (cold pressed) to a food I am eating. I’ve only recently started doing this again as I noticed that my skin has been drier than when I consumed added oil.

  8. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems that Dr. Greger is seeking a new nickname! After seeing/hearing this : “But that’s never been done… until now, which we’ll cover next.” I seem to recall some other videos with very similar endings recently.

    So – Do we start addressing ” Dr. Cliffhanger Greger” ?

  9. The slide from about 3:07 – 3:15 has an interesting final sentence…read past what Dr. Gregor reads. After stating bitter apricot kernels can lead to serious poisoning, it recommends eating them. :)

    “Apricot kernels – Bitter apricot kernels can lead to serious poisoning even after eating only a small amount of kernels. Because it is not possible to see the difference between bitter and sweet apricot kernels, the National Food Administration therefore strongly advises eating apricot kernels.”

  10. One of my favorite greens that will actually grow here like a weed in the heat of a south Florida summer when very little else will is chaya (tree spinach). It’s a mild and delicious central American perennial shrub with large, nutritious, hand shaped, edible leaves that are even essentially pest free… due to their production of hydrocyanic acid. Even though it’s been called the world’s most consumed green, (it’s in the same family as cyanide containing cassava), it’s a shame it doesn’t get mass marketed but you need to know to cook it first to eliminate those cyanide levels, and people often want to eat their greens raw. I love that the cooked leaves stay firm and almost “meaty” in texture, unlike spinach or other greens. I often steam the leaves flat then use them like giant grape leaves to roll around a seasoned citrus rice/grain mixture, an almost free delicacy that I love! (Pretty sure I’m probably getting my RDA of arsenic and cyanide too, so hoping hormesis is a thing… what doesn’t kill ya makes ya stronger? LOL)

  11. I soak overnight raw flaxseed and other seeds including a few bitter almonds,blended the next morning with fresh fruit,eat Spanish raw almonds which I like soaked in water,pop the skins off,unlike californian almonds about 1 almond in 10 tastes bitter. I have been eating this way for decades,no ill effects;A Vegan many decades,raw food emphasis I am now 76; maybe some have a low tolerance for such food I certainly do not….I always crack apricot stones and eat the bitter contents as well.

  12. I developed some recipes in which I grind a cup of raw flaxseed and add water and / or orange juice, and stir till it becomes like bread dough, which I mold into little biscuits. I then dehydrate these biscuits at 105 degrees for 1-4 hours (depending how wet my dough came out and how dry I want the biscuit to be) (sometimes I add various sweet or savory options to the dough before dehydrating, like raisins, ground sprouted and dehydrated pumpkin seeds, thyme, cayenne). Does this grinding, water and heat affect the cyanide at all?

      1. That part of the video went a little fast. Sometimes it helps to read the transcript after.

        Yes, bake muffins with even like a quarter-cup of ground flax each for 15 to 18 minutes at about 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and the cyanide-forming compounds are gone. Looks like the same thing happens with baked bread.

        But, bake ground flax seeds on their own, and even an hour at 350 degrees only wipes out 20 percent; <——- this is the one that makes it confusing.

        though baking them whole wipes out 80 percent,

        and what, baking in bread or muffins wipes out 100 percent?

        How does that make any sense? It’s the moisture.

        It’s heat plus water that wipes out the cyanide. <———This is the answer

        Boiling for just five minutes can wipe it out, like when making hot cereal or something.

        I guess I can't guarantee that your 100-degree heating accomplishes what 5 minutes of boiling accomplishes.

        But if you don't have a problem metabolizing it, then I bounce you back to that reality.

  13. Here’s the answer to the cliffhanger: 100G (2/3rds cup) may be too much if it’s all you eat, but < 80g (1/2 a cup) is fine (from the paper he cites at the end, quoted below)

    "The relatively slow release of cyanide after ingestion of freshly grinded linseed results in a lower hazard potential. Indeed, no reports on cyanide poisoning after consumption of linseed were found in the literature. The ingestion of dif-ferent doses of the study linseed (7.5–100 g) by test person No. 5 resulted in peak levels of cyanide overproportion-ally increasing with increasing doses (Fig. 3), caused by the constant metabolism rate (at higher doses) and occur-ring despite increasing tmax values allowing more time for detoxification. With the highest dose, the cyanide peak level of 42.3 μM reached may potentially be associated with first clinical signs of toxicity. However, this is a very high amount of linseed hard to ingest quickly (caloric con-tent 370–380 kcal per 100 g), and in order to meet worst-case conditions, it has to be eaten on an empty stomach directly after grinding by a machine (chewing of the hard seeds is not effective enough and very time-consuming), without consumption of other foods. In Sweden, the high-est daily dose was reported to be 80 g ground linseed, given as “fibre shock” in a private health spa (Rosling 1993). Usually, high doses are up to 15 g three times a day in case of traditional herbal medication to treat or prevent consti-pation (EMA 2006), and this dose is safe with respect to possible acute toxicity of cyanide." Abraham, K., Buhrke, T., & Lampen, A. (2016). Bioavailability of cyanide after consumption of a single meal of foods containing high levels of cyanogenic glycosides: a crossover study in humans. Archives of toxicology, 90(3), 559-574.

  14. WHAT SYMPTOMS might one expect from ground flax seeds?

    I don’t remember how I ate them, but my skin became extremely sensitive.

  15. Since the seeds have cyanide, what about nutritional flaxseed oil capsules? I take a couple of 1400 mg capsules (Kirkland brand) daily. Also, can the cyanide be absorbed through the skin, i.e., as when a wood worker uses Linseed oil (flaxseed oil) with unprotected hands?

    1. Yes, Cyanide can be absorbed through the skin. In some people, handling of cyanide directly will cause a rash on the hands, an itchy rash.

  16. There are many great foods that contain cyanogenic Nitrilosides. Why not just eat foods that contain enzymes and/or reactants that will neutralize, or greatly reduce toxicity of the cyanide group. Rhodanese enzyme is concentrated in Porcine Liver and Kidney. Freeze-dried organ meats in capsule form would be one potential source.

    Resveratrol has been shown to increase Thiosulfate Sulfurtransferase activity in a dose-dependent manner; this enzyme is known to react with cyanide.
    [J.M. Pezzuto, Resveratrol as an Inhibitor of Carcinogenesis, Pharm. Biology, 46:7-8, 443-573, DOI: 10.1080/13880200802116610].

    Cobalamin reacts with cyanide to form Cyanocobalamin (a cheap version of Vitamin B12). There are 3 other forms of Vitamin B12: Methylcobalamin, Hydroxocobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin. The first 2 are known to react with cyanide. Could we just maintain normal-high plasma levels of Cobalamin as a means of neutralizing cyanide from our favorite foods ? But which form of B12 is best ? Test data in-vivo please; i.e. we won’t know until we put it to the test!

    Give people one of the 3 forms of cyanide-neutralising B12 supplement, have them eat a predetermined quantity of raw flaxseed, and then measure urinary thiocyanate levels. Later, this could be repeated with the best B12 supplement + Resveratrol, just to see its effect.

  17. That article about the cyanide in flax seeds harmfulness was the most unclear (to me) article I have ever read from you. The way your fact finding was presented was too convoluted. I got essence of your conclusion, but it was presented in such a way it was unclear…at least to me.

  18. I reckon that the questions will be answered in the next video. I’ll ask them here anyway.

    How to prepare flaxseed now? Do you boil it for a few minutes then grind it? That would mean you can’t use the spice grinder anymore and would have to go back to a mortar and pestle. How long to cook it for? Does cooking flaxseed create oxidation products? Does the cooking method affect the level of oxidation products produced? Are the levels any cause for concern? Other seeds or nuts we should cook before eating? What method should we use?

    1. If we add up all the foods the body has to detox cyanide from (cruciferous, b12 tablets, flax, oats etc), are some people at risk? For instance, people who are marginal in their protein intake?

      1. Arthur,

        I looked at length for instances of cyanide poisoning, from food, and found no direct references. From fire sources, absolutely. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507796/

        Interesting there is literature, albeit in Pandas, that traces their high cyanide intake to a detox pathway in their gut, from specific microbiota constituents.
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6001608/

        Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.Centerofhealth.com

  19. Arthur, your questions are pretty much answered in this video. Paragraph 6 of the written transcript might clarify issues for you. You don’t have to do anything differently with rhe flax seed. Nothing. If you buy whole flax seed, just grind it in the coffee grinder and store in an air-tight container in the fridge. The body detoxes cyanide (100 mg)… 150 tablespoons of ground flax seeds worth of cyanide! Since we usually eat 2 tbsp per day, its no problem. Using ground flax seed in baking renders it totally harmless … so I don’t have to worry eating a flax muffin made with 1/4 cup ground flax.

    mnagra Health Support Volunteer answered a question about oxidation, above, in the comments. The health benefits are not destroyed by cooking.

    1. Thank you. The comment about the cooking helps. Dr. Greger explained in the video that this was the best case scenario for detoxifying cyanide. I’m confident that the worst case scenario is not far off from the best case scenario. Perhaps it isn’t. Considering that cooking doesn’t seem to damage ALA then might as well boil it long enough to deactivate the toxin. It might be beneficial as well to denature any lipase or protease inhibitors in the seed too. Cooking with steam or water shouldn’t make AGEs either so if that works to clear the seed of anti-nutrients then cook them like that. If this is true for other nuts and seeds then why not. If cooking doesn’t work but i have to soak them then, ugh.

    2. I forgot to ask. What about other seeds like sunflower seeds, chia seeds? If you cook them a little will their lipids stay intact? What about their B6?

      1. Hi, Arthur! Sunflower seeds have not been covered extensively here on NF, but they do appear to exacerbate acne, as you can see here: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/do-sunflower-seeds-cause-acne/
        Everything on this site related to chia seeds may be found here: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/chia-seeds/
        As I understand it, time and temperature are the factors at work in heat-induced lipid oxidation, based on the specific lipids and antioxidants included in a food. Sunflower seed oil used for deep frying was found to be stable at temperatures between 180-210 degrees Celcius (356-410 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to 120 minutes in this study: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jos/66/11/66_ess17109/_article
        I have not seen research on the effects of heat on lipids in whole sunflower and chia seeds, nor on their B6 content. I hope that helps!

  20. Folks, many, many plants contain “poisonous” substances which were meant to deter the large herds of wild animals from grazing the plants to extinction. After eating a bit more than a reasonable amount their bodies would begin feeling the effects and encourage them to move on to greener pastures, thus saving the plant species so they could live to feed another day.
    Eat a reasonable amount ( ie, a few Tablespoons of ground flaxseed) of nutritional plant based foods, vary your diet. And reap the benefits.

    1. “After eating a bit more than a reasonable amount their bodies would begin feeling the effects and encourage them to move on to greener pastures”

      The way I’ve always heard/read it explained wasn’t any feelings of illness, but rather the taste deterring them.

  21. Great Video!!
    I came here because I have two questions for latter videos:
    1- Does chlorella need to be broken cell, to be absorved and to get the benefits of the detox? or are the studies being made with regular chlorella?
    2- Do chia seeds get absorved just by soaking them some hours, or do they really need to be ground?
    Thank you for your awesome work, when I get my first job I will certanly donate

    1. I would like to know this about chia as well! In one video Dr. Greger talks about very little being absorbed (if any was) if they’re not ground first (I believe solely referring to omega-3’s but I would imagine any nutrition within them for the same reason), but it didn’t address soaking, to my memory. It would be great to know if soaking does suffice because there’s so many good recipes that use soaked chia seeds such as pudding and overnight oats.

    2. Thank you for your positive comments and your plants for future donation! To address your questions, I’d encourage you to check out this paper -paragraph 5 which seems to address your first question: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/107628001300303691 5th paragraph

      Regarding chia and need to grind, many resources report you can get the health benefits of eating chia seeds whole- They needn’t be ground or soaked but if soaked the water breaks down the outer layer making them even more absorbable. At least for increases in omega-3’s you may want to grind. See https://nutritionfacts.org/video/which-are-better-chia-seeds-or-flax-seeds/ “…ground chia seeds did lead to a significant increase in blood levels of both short-chain and long-chain omega-3s” Hope that helps.

  22. To be honest, I didn’t even watch the video because I don’t care… I don’t worry about cyanide in flax at all. It could kill it 100% or 0% and it makes no difference to me.

    1. I don’t worry about cyanide in flax at all. It could kill it 100% or 0% and it makes no difference to me.
      ————————————————————————————————————————————
      Squares with my thinking as well.

      I’ve gone through periods where I would add ground flax to my soups and stews with no adverse results. I’ve currently got a box in the fridge I bought at the grocery store some years ago… Hodgsons I believe. I’ve also got a packet bought from a bulk supplier on a pantry shelf. I’m not avoiding the stuff… I just have too many foodstuffs to consume and am getting in the habit of not cooking varied meals but instead consuming just a handful of things for periods of time.

      I’ve considered that I may be lazy but when I think about it, I am busy all the time.

      I do pay attention when new information is out about a food or nutrient that is either beneficial or potentially damaging. But flax has been around for so long I think damage from eating it would have been identified by now so I have no fear about consuming it.

    1. No, Dr. Greger has a video on that somewhere. Just type in flax and you should be able to find it. What I remember from the video was that baking flax at 350 degrees fahrenheit did not destroy the omega 3 content at all.

      1. from flax SEEDS mind you (ground, they always need to be ground or you absorb nothing), not flax oil which is unstable when extracted from the seed.

  23. Yes! Thank you!

    As a Swede, I have been living with these mixed messages and with the fact that stores stopped selling them crushed a few years ago, and I am very happy that you are addressing it! When is the second video coming out???

    /AB

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