Poppy seeds are nutritious and can be used in a great variety of dishes. They possess some unique healing properties that made them extremely popular among the healers of old. Nowadays, poppy plants are grown commercially in many countries and every kind has some special properties. The most popular are poppy seeds from England, Australia, Holland, and Spain.
Poppy seeds from Spain are dark gray, almost black in color. The most important health benefits offered by them are:
- Poppy seeds serve as a rich source of essential minerals.
They provide your body with large amounts of iodine, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. Therefore, including them in your diet reduces the risk of developing diseases caused by deficiencies of these elements, like osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, etc.
- They provide your body with important vitamins.
Like with the minerals, poppy seeds help prevent vitamin deficiencies because they are packed with these essential elements. B vitamins make up the most of their nutritional value in this regard, especially thiamin (100 g of seeds contain 71% of the required daily dose). These vitamins affect metabolism and thereby influence your overall health.
- They lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.
Poppy seeds from Spain are full of oleic acid, which is a mono-unsaturated fat that helps control the level of LDL cholesterol in your blood and boosts the level of “good” HDL cholesterol.
- Poppy seeds assist your digestion by providing your body with dietary fiber.
The fiber you get from these seeds is metabolically inert. It effectively absorbs liquids and toxins from your intestines and facilitates bowel movements. Therefore, poppy seeds serve as an excellent detox aid. 100 grams of raw seeds provide you with 51% of the required daily dose of dietary fiber.
- They calm nerves and help treat some nervous system disorders.
Dried poppy seeds contain miniscule amounts of opium alkaloids. This allows them to have a positive calming effect on your nervous system and can help alleviate most pains. Please note that unlike the alkaloids derived from young poppy plants, the elements in dried mature seeds are completely safe and non-addictive. Extracts from them are used in some pharmaceutical drugs and are a popular ingredient in many natural remedies.
Poppy seeds are the safest for people prone to food allergies. They are also perfectly safe for both pregnant women and children when consumed in reasonable amounts.
Sports players and personnel who need to go through drug tests need to know that eating a lot of foods that contain these seeds can make them test positive for opiates (codeine, morphine, etc.). While the amounts of these elements in your system will not be high enough to produce any narcotic effects, the test results can cause a great variety of problems.
Poppy seeds are mostly used as a condiment in pastries because they release most of their flavor when heated. They can be sprinkled on toasts, salads, or other foods similar to sesame seeds. Poppy kernels are a great addition to many sauces, especially when ground.