Poppy seeds are the edible seeds of the poppy plant.
A popular baking ingredient, these seeds can be used to flavor a variety of baked dishes.
Interestingly, poppy seeds are among the most nutritiousEdible seed optionsand provide a wide range of nutrients.
This article examines the nutritional facts, benefits, and potential harms of poppy seeds, as well as how to use them.
What are poppy seeds?
The poppy plant, known botanically as Papaver somniferum, is famous for its role in the production of opium.
However, one part of the plant is legally available to buy groceries: poppy seeds.
Poppy seeds are the only part of the plant that can be legally purchased as they contain traces of opium alkaloids (1).
Seeds have been popular since ancient Greece, and Hippocrates himself recognized their nutritive properties (2).
Although poppies are grown around the world, most of the largest producers are countries in Europe, with the Czech Republic having the highest production (3).
similar tohemp seeds, Poppy seeds are tiny and have a crunchy texture.
Although poppy seeds can be eaten on their own, they are often used as a spice. They can be added to savory dishes and used as a topping on baked goods. In this way, they're a similar flavor enhancer as sesame seeds, and we often see them sprinkled on buns and baguettes.
Like other seeds, they are also a rich source of dietary fat, fiber, and protein.
key point:Poppy is a type of seed that is commonly used to enhance the flavor of various dishes and food products. They are small and crunchy.
Using data from the USDA FoodData Central database, these are the basic nutritional values for poppy seeds per typical 8.8 gram tablespoon (4).
|Name||Crowd||% daily value|
For 100 grams this corresponds to:
- 525 calories
- 28.13 grams of carbohydrates (19.5 grams of fiber)
- 41.56 grams of fat
- 17.99 grams of protein
Unlike most other seeds, poppy seeds are not a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids.
For seeds rich in omega-3 fatty acids, chia andlinseedboth are good options.
Most of the carbohydrates in poppy seeds are dietary fiber with a small amount of starch and sugar.
Poppy seeds contain a significant amount of dietary fats, most of which are omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic acid (5).
Other primary fatty acids in poppy seeds are oleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid.
Poppy seeds are among the most concentrated plant protein sources, containing approximately 18% protein by weight.4).
Poppy seeds are a pretty good source of B vitamins and also provide moderate amounts of vitamin E.
|Name||per 8.8g scoop||per 100 grams|
|Thiamin (B1)||7 % vD||71 % VD|
|Folate||2 % vD||21 % vD|
|Vitamin B6||1 % vD||15 % vD|
|Vitamin E||1 % vD||12 % vD|
|Riboflavin (B2)||1 % vD||8 % vD|
|Niacin (B3)||<1% VD||6 % vD|
|Pantothenic Acid (B5)||<1% VD||6 % vD|
|hill||<1% VD||2 % vD|
|Vitamin C||<1% VD||1 % vD|
In general, all seeds offer a wide range of minerals in significant amounts.
Poppy seeds are no different and are particularly rich in calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc.
|Name||per 8.8g scoop||per 100 grams|
|Mangan||26 % vD||292 % VD|
|copper||5% vD||181 % VD|
|football||10 % vD||111 % VD|
|Magnesium||7 % vD||83 % VD|
|Zink||6 % vD||72 % VD|
|Phosphor||6 % vD||70 % vD|
|Ferro||5% vD||54 % VD|
|Selenium||2 % vD||25 % vD|
|Potassium||1 % vD||15 % vD|
|Sodium||<1% VD||1 % vD|
key point:Poppy seeds contain all three macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat and protein. They also provide significant amounts of minerals.
Poppy seeds are not as well known as other edible seed varieties. Perhaps for this reason, there is very little scientific research into its potential health benefits.
However, as a rich source of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, they offer great nutritional value.
Approximately 70% of the carbohydrates in poppy seeds are dietary fiber, which can have a number of beneficial functions in the body, including:
- Decreased postprandial (after eating) carbohydrate intake, which reduces blood sugar response (7).
- Acts as a prebiotic, feeding the "good bacteria" in the gut known as the microbiota (8).
- Through fermentation to useful short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate (9).
In that sense, it might be worth itLooking for chia seeds, which provide even greater amounts of dietary fiber.
Since poppy seeds also contain a significant amount of minerals, adding a handful to your diet would be an easy way to improve your mineral status.
key point:Poppy seeds provide a wide range of beneficial nutrients.
On the other hand, there are also some potential downsides to watch out for when taking poppy seeds.
Can lead to false positive drug tests
As mentioned above, poppy seeds are a legal and edible food. They are very different from the parts of the poppy plant that are specifically processed into opiates.
In this regard, a case report entitled False Positive Urine Drug Detection: Beware of the Poppy Seed Bagel explained how occasional ingestion of poppy seeds can lead to a positive test due to trace levels of opiates (12).
Why do false positive tests occur?
The reason for these false positive tests is that poppy seeds can contain traces of the opiate alkaloids morphine and codeine. While such small amounts are unlikely to pose a health concern, research confirms that poppy seed ingestion poses a potential risk of false-positive drug tests for these compounds (13,14).
However, it is worth noting that this phenomenon is rare. To avoid the possibility of false positive tests, the "limit of detection" used in drug testing for these opioid kaloids is typically 2000 ng/mL (equivalent to 2000 ug/L) (15).
In 264 tests of samples taken after ingestion of poppy seeds, only three of these samples showed opiate levels greater than 400 ng/mL (sixteen).
However, it is possible that certain batches of poppy seeds may contain much larger amounts of opiate alkaloids than others, or that the amount consumed or the timing of testing will affect the result.
For example, another study looked at the effect of healthy participants who ingested 45 grams of poppy seeds on urinary levels of morphine and codeine. Interestingly, 26.6% of the samples collected exceeded the morphine-positive detection limit of 2000 ug/l, but were negative after 19 hours (13).
This study shows that ingesting large amounts of the seeds can be enough to get a positive result on a workplace or sports drug test.
For this reason, USADA recommends that all athletes refrain from eating poppy seeds from a few days before the start of the competition until the end of the competition (17).
key point:Poppy seeds contain small amounts of codeine and morphine, which can be enough to cause a positive drug test result.
Allergic reactions (rare)
There seems to be some cross-reactivity with nuts (such as walnuts and chestnuts) and pollen. In other words, people with such allergies are more likely to have allergic reactions to poppy seeds (19,20).
Poppy seeds contain phytic acid.
Phytic acid, also known as phytate, is a compound that serves as a storage form of phosphorus in plant foods. Poppy seeds contain a significant amount of phytic acid.
Like many other nutrients and compounds, phytic acid can have benefits and drawbacks.
On the plus side, research shows that phytic acid has antioxidant properties and may help moderate oxidative stress and prevent lipid peroxidation. In the long term, higher levels of oxidative stress can increase the risk of a variety of chronic diseases.21,22,23,24).
However, phytate also has some undesirable effects due to its ability to bind essential minerals. When phytate is taken with iron, zinc, and calcium, it can interfere with the absorption of these minerals and increase the risk of possible mineral deficiencies (27,28).
However, it is worth remembering that the presence of phytic acid does not mean that we do not absorb the minerals that are present. Its absorption is affected rather than inhibited, and foods containing phytates still offer a good range of nutrients.
Furthermore, in a recent review article published by the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, the researchers concluded that “the medicinal values of phytic acid outweigh its negative effects”(27).
key point:Poppy seeds contain phytic acid, which can have a variety of effects on the human body, some good, some bad.
How to use poppy seeds
For those of you who have poppy seeds and don't know how to use them, here's a quick rundown of how to use them.
While they can likely help flavor a variety of foods, the seeds are commonly used in Indian cooking and baking.
Poppy seeds are often used as a crispy topping on rolls and baguettes.
For some examples,Check out this wide range of recipes.
Poppy seeds are widely used as a spice in Indian cuisine.
In particular, they are a popular ingredient in many types of curries as they help enhance flavor.
Although not as visible as other seeds like sesame and chia, poppy seeds are tasty and nutritious.
The seeds provide a wide range of essential nutrients and are particularly rich in manganese, copper, calcium and magnesium.
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Poppy seeds may support digestion and heart, bone and skin health. However, eating too many poppy seeds may result in a false positive on a drug test. And eating unwashed seeds or drinking poppy seed tea can have a potentially dangerous, intoxicating effect.Are poppy seeds healthy for you? ›
Poppy seeds are great sources of many of the nutrients the body needs to stay healthy. These include protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. The seeds do come from the same plant that manufacturers use to make opioids such as heroin.What are the side effects of poppy? ›
California poppy might cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Some medications, called sedatives, can also cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Taking California poppy with sedative medications might cause breathing problems and/or too much sleepiness.Are poppy seeds good for blood pressure? ›
Poppy seeds are also rich in iron and improve the circulation of blood. Blood pressure levels are kept under control with the use of poppy seeds and they also contain Omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial in reducing the chances of cardiovascular diseases.Is poppy seed good for kidney? ›
Poppy seeds contain oleic acid that prevents the formation of kidney stones. As per research, oxalates present in poppy seeds reduce calcium intake in the body. It also prevents kidney stones.Is poppy seeds good for liver? ›
Health benefits of poppy seeds
“It helps with bone health, bone mineral density, and blood clotting.” It's also associated with proper liver function and nutrient metabolism, Silverman adds.
Poppy seeds are rich in many plant compounds, minerals, and omega fats. These seeds have been used as a traditional remedy for their medicinal properties. From improving heart health to regulating blood pressure, poppy seeds have many health benefits.Are poppy seeds or chia seeds healthier? ›
3Nutrition: Chia seeds are different from poppy seeds nutritionally. The biggest difference is chia seeds have about twice as much fiber as poppy seeds. This is a bonus because most of us can use more fiber.