Poppy seeds or Papaver somniferum as it is known scientifically are small, oval shaped, slate blue or white colored seeds which grow inside the globes of a poppy plant. Poppy seeds are non narcotic, unlike the opium poppy plant milk. They have a crispy and nutty flavor which adds great taste to breads, rolls, cakes, curries and other food preparations. Poppy tea made from poppy seeds is consumed for its narcotic nature. Apart from being rich in flavor Khus Khus (as it is called in India) is immensely rich in nutrients. Poppy seeds are high in potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and essential fatty acids. There are a number of health promoting features of poppy seeds like improving heart health, gut health, bones, skin and mental health.
Since ancient times poppy seeds were used in Arab nations as a drug to treat various medical conditions. Khus Khus is widely used in many recipes across the world with major cultivars of it being India, Australia, Europe and Turkey. Not only are the seeds beneficial to health; also the oil obtained from ironed poppy seeds is also as high in nutrition. This oil is also used for medicinal purposes as well as food preparations.
Poppy Seeds Nutrition Profile
Poppy seeds are high in nutrient content. They contain good amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, dietary fiber, Vitamins: folates, niacin, riboflavin etc. 65% of recommended daily amount of pantothenic acid
can be served by poppy seeds alone. Poppy seeds are also abundant in mineral quantities. Iron, calcium and magnesium are amongst other health encouraging minerals present in poppy seeds. They also provide large quantities of sodium and potassium.
With such a myriad of nutrients poppy seeds confirm its role in supporting health and curing many medical conditions. Some of the health benefits of poppy seeds are:
- Iron enhances mental functions: Poppy seeds are rich in minerals like iron, calcium, zinc and copper that boost mental health. These minerals improve the function of neurotransmitters and enhance the cognitive functions of the brain. These essential elements are good for the development of new brain cells and their proper growth. Also the minimal levels of alkaloids such as morphine and codeine act as neuro-stimulators as they have natural pain killing properties. When taken in small quantities, they help in soothing neural discomfort and are beneficial to the body. For this very reason poppy seeds were used in many herbal drug preparations.
- Fatty acids help heart: Unsaturated fatty acids and some essential organic oils present in poppy seeds assure a healthy heart. The fatty acids like oleic and linoleic acids are abundantly found in poppy seeds that provide them a sweet aroma. These acids help in controlling the LDL or bad cholesterol levels while increasing the level of good cholesterol or HDL. This regulation of cholesterol levels in the body reduces the risk of developing coronary heart diseases thus preventing heart attack and stroke.
Also the large amount of dietary fiber available in poppy seeds helps in maintaining good heart health. Potassium, an important element of cell development, is also good for a healthy heart. So include a handful of poppy seeds to your daily diet to keep you out of harm’s way from any complications.
- Good for skin and hair: Poppy seeds contain many vital nutrients that are good for skin and hair. Poppy is an excellent source of vitamins that have anti-bacterial properties that fight against skin infections and is also good for improving hair growth. It also contains fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory in nature which treat skin inflammation and eczema effectively. A paste made of crushed poppy seeds in few drops of lime juice controls rashes and itchiness of the skin along with alleviating the pain. Poppy seeds can also be made into a scrub to get skin clear than ever.
Poppy seeds are preferred by many cosmetologists for a natural hair mask to combat hair problems like dandruff, rough hair, hair fall and split ends. Mix them with coconut oil or make a paste of poppy seeds and hung curd to fight dandruff and hair fall.
- Fiber treats constipation: High amount of dietary fiber in poppy seeds helps in maintaining overall digestive health. It improves the bowel movement and enhances the absorption of important nutrients in the intestine. This keeps the gut healthy and prevents constipation. Crushed poppy seeds before a meal can help in curing constipation to a great extent.
- Cures mouth ulcers: Poppy seeds are found to have a cooling effect on the body which helps cure mouth ulcers instantly. Ayurveda has prescribed crushed poppy seeds to be taken along with sugar to have instant relief from mouth ulcers and the discomfort caused by them.
- Calcium and phosphorus make bones stronger: Poppy seeds have a decent amount of calcium and phosphorus which promote bone health. Taking poppy seeds regularly in your diet prevent bone damage and ensure stronger bones and muscles. Manganese helps in production of collagen that keeps bones intact and prevents breakage.
- Vitamins ensure proper body metabolism: A variety of vitamins like Thiamin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxin and folates are responsible for proper body metabolic functions. These vitamins maintain overall health of the body and also help in preventing various diseases. These vitamins act as co-factors for fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Poppy seeds also contain Vitamin C that has anti-allergic and anti-septic properties that protect against infections and boost immunity.
- Reduce insomnia: Restlessness and insomnia can be easily combated by poppy seeds. As they contain alkaloids that are responsible for production of neurotransmitters in the body it helps in inducing sleep. This also reduces fatigue and restlessness and help sleep properly.
Lemon and Poppy Seed MuffinsIngredients:
- 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup sour cream/butter
- 1 egg
- Sugar as needed
- Preheat oven at 3750c and grease 12 muffin cups with butter or shortening.
- In a large bowl mix together butter, sugar, egg and lemon zest. Now sieve in all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and poppy seeds.
- Now pour equal amounts of batter in each muffin cup and sprinkle some sugar over them.
- Bake for 15-17 min and serve.