Ground flaxseed and cyanide

The Swedish national food agency discourages intake of ground flax seed because it contains cyanogenic glycoside that can be converted to cyanide in the body:
(in Swedish)

What’s your take on this and how much ground flaxseed does Huel contain?


Interesting. I’d never heard of this before.

Some quick Googling indicates that cyano glycoside is released on crushing the seeds. This in turn can result in the release of hydrogen cyanide. The hydrogen cyanide would be trivial to wash out as it would be soluble in water, but it seems unclear if cyano glycoside is a problem. There would presumably be some hydrogen cyanide released in your body during the digestion process as not all of it would have been released during the crushing process. I can’t find any information regarding how much is left, or how much can be released during digestion - possibly because no one knows.

I’ve never heard of people getting ill from flax seeds though. I used to consume quite large quantities of them myself at one point.



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Inedia, guys, inedia…

The flaxseed in Huel is only partially ground as you all know from the bits in Huel. These bits are flaxseed and we have not ground them thoroughly to prevent any degradation and oxidation.


The amount of cynide in flax seed is rediculously small. Remember that almonds also contain cyanide. No need to be silly about tiny amounts. Loads of good foods contain poison, but you’d need to eat 2kg of it in one sitting all at once to even get sick, and you cannot eat enough to kill you. The concentration is not strong enough.


Being from Sweden, my family is fairly concerned for me due to the ground flaxseeds in huel and I was wondering if you have discussed this at the company. It’s after all a government agency from a very trend and health sensitive country.

I really like huel but I’m revising weather to continue or not as I do take these warnings seriously.

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It’s good you take health warnings seriously. However, the warnings over Flaxseed, to me, have picked up a bit too much negative traction. The NFA simply warned that, because ground flaxseed can produce hydrogen cyanide and they don’t know the amount consumed to cause negative effects, they recommend not consuming it at all. From the NFA statement (translated into English):

There is not yet enough knowledge to say how much crushed flaxseed to eat without the risk of damage to health. Therefore, our advice is not to eat crushed flaxseed.

They even say there is a very low chance of getting Hydrogen Cyanide poisoning from flaxseed (if there is a real risk at all):

If one were to ingest high doses of hydrogen cyanide at one point there arises the so-called acute poisoning symptoms. However, it is very unlikely that you get in such a dose over crushed flaxseed. Acute poisoning symptoms can include headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion and numbness. Serious hydrogen cyanide poisoning can affect breathing. There are no published reports of acute hydrogen cyanide poisoning caused by crushed flaxseed.

It’s good to be aware of the warnings, however, to me, this is just a warning to be safe.


I don’t really see how this can be a problem anyway. AFAIK there aren’t any examples of long term hydrogen cyanide poisoning. Our own body even produces it internally in small quantities.

Here’s a guy intentionally consuming it just for entertainment even:

Of course I could be wrong, but my best guess is this flaxseed/cyanide link is a total non-issue.

Gotta love sensationalism…I’ve been eating these for years and I am not dead ye…thud.


Why on earth would you eat apricot kernels??? Also, how? They’re as hard as a rock.


why not :slight_smile:
you need just blend them into powder, and why? B17, anticancer and what not and I don’t know if anyone died becouse of cyanide in them :slight_smile:


Actually the ones I use are more like the texture of almonds, but smaller. Quite a strong taste but not hard as hell, and yes it is the B17 that they are eaten for.

I’m also very concerned about this, and I’m also Swedish. This might very well lead to Sweden banning Huel
which would be quite terrible. Furthermore the answers:

“It’s only partially crushed to prevent degradation and oxidation” So long as the seeds aren’t whole, this helps nothing.

“…Only recommends this beause they don’t know…” Food agency recommendations, at least in Sweden, is not based on sketchy science or rumours. When they recommend something it’s at worst a seriously educated guess based on the latest data erring on the side of caution.

I’m also concerned that there’s no mention on exactly how much flaxseed Huel actually contains. Given the warning that’s information that’s required to make an informed decision on your own health.

I think that flaxseed should be seriously reconsidered in Huel, and at the very least offer a formulation without it, and minimizing concerns via non-answers makes me more worried than admitting that this is something that might need to be looked over. And I hope you do, because I really like Huel so far, but I might stop using it until there’s a version without flaxseed.

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Do you have some new data? This thread died ten months ago.

The entire issue seems to centre on the average person’s poor ability to make rationale relative risk assessments IMO.

You don’t need to defend your country’s food agency. They aren’t a black box. If you wish to argue this matter further you need to defend their reasoning which is public. So, go for it…

The recommendation to not eat ground flaxseed at all is bizarre. Meanwhile in the rest of the world we’re reminded to grind them because otherwise they pass through the body without being digested (such a waste of nutrients!). Banning Huel because of flaxseeds would be a strange reaction, to say the least.

Do we know what’s the upper safe limit of oats? If it’s unknown, then maybe no one should have oats either, in case they accumulate mycotoxins… or something. Just a thought. Brown rice contains arsenic too, and now I’m wondering about the peas. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: jk

All joking aside, some of my family have taken ground flax daily for as long as I can remember and they’re still alive and well.

Researchers consider 50g or 7 1/2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed to be a safe amount of ground flaxseed to intake daily for most people, heating flaxseed meal eliminates the cyanogenic glycoside compounds.
50g of flaxseed meal can have a dose as high as 11mg cyanide if you take the highest concentration found in this study
lethal dose of cyanide is commonly said to be between .5mg/kg and 3.5mg/kg body weight.
A commenter on another post on flaxseed in Huel said there are 12g flaxseed per 100g Huel.
2000 calories of huel would mean ingesting 60.7g flaxseed in a day, a little over the recommended limit.
There could be a dose as high as 13.36mg cyanide in 60.7g flaxseed, but probably more like 9mg (based on the average dose in flaxseed from the study above.)
In the study referenced above, the individuals ate 6.8mg of cyanide from flaxseeds and got to a blood concentration of cyanide of about 6 micromolar. 20-40 micromolar is considered the range that symptoms start to occur.
Eating a typical 500 calorie serving of Huel for a meal replacement is very unlikely to cause symptoms of acute toxicity as it likely only contains 2.25mg of cyanide. As for chronic (long term) use of Huel and the effects of the cyanide from flaxseed it contains, I would repeat what the authors of the study referenced above said - the effects are indeterminate and under scientific debate Some of that debate takes place in the references from the article mentioned above if you want a clearer picture as to what are the arguments on either side.


There are a few on here that claim to have been consuming 100% Huel (or close to) for long periods of time, one guy a few weeks back posted on the forum he’d been having 100% Huel for the best part of a year. Clearly, if so, unless he is posting from the grave then consuming Huel frequently has no critical side effects.

One guy. That’s an anecdote, not science.

Edit: I’m not worried about the cyanide in flaxseed, but if I were, I’d prefer studies.

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Regardless of the lack of proper studies into ground flax seed, it’s undeniable that there are hundreds of people worldwide that have consumed Huel fairly regularly wouldn’t you say? Or do you think all of these people or those offering their personal anecdotes of using Huel are lying and secretly it’s a big conspiracy?

Unless people are buying it and not consuming it, Huel would have gone out of business if it wasn’t regularly purchased and used by people.

I’ve consumed Huel for over 5 months now, at least once, often twice a day and apart from the occasional, often reported flatulence, I’ve suffered no other effects and feel great. Had a blood test a few weeks ago and all of my results were improved from 5 months prior.

Huel has been around long enough now, that if there were any side effects from consuming ground flaxseed regularly it would have become apparent.

In addition, it’s undeniable that thousands of people worldwide regularly consume ground flaxseed daily as a fat source, especially vegans - it’s sold in every supermarket in the UK. Again, if there was a serious concern or side effect regarding it and cyanide, it would have become apparent by now.

Studies or not, common sense has to play a part in all this instead of scaremongering.

EDIT: ALSO - many, many reputable studies are based largely on anecdotal evidence and surveys with large sample sizes and questionnaires being sent, with responses 100% based on trust/anecdotal evidence. It’s nothing to turn your nose up at.

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