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Poppy seeds nutrition facts

Nutty and pleasant in taste, poppy seeds are nutritious oilseeds used as condiment in cooking. They are the seeds obtained from the dry fruits (pods) of poppy plant (opium poppy) and entirely free from any sinister side effects of other products poppy plant (opium poppy).

Poppy plant is a biennial herb of East Mediterranean, and Asia Minor origin belonging to the papaveraceae family of the genus: Papaver. Scientific name: Papaver somniferum.

Ancient Egyptians were aware of seeds extraction from the poppy head. Through the Arab traders, opium cultivation spread to Persia, ancient Khorasan, and India. Today seeds poppy are a well established commercial crop in many parts of the world Mediterranean countries including Turkey, France, India, and East European region.

Poppy plant grows up to 5 feet in height. It requires full sunlight and fertile soil to flourish. Depending up on variety, lilac, blue, red or white flowers appear during spring on long peduncles which subsequently turn in to globular or oval shaped fruits (capsules).

Each fruit head measures 4–6 cm long and 3–4 cm in diameter, contains numerous tiny, bean (kidney) shaped seeds, which rattle when shaken inside dried capsules. Seeds poppy can be light gray to dark gray, black, or bluish depending on cultivar type.

Its seeds, which are used as condiment spice and to press oil, are indeed very safe to use as food and contain negligible quantities of toxic alkaloids of opium poppy.

Health benefits of poppy seeds

  • Poppy seeds contain many plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.

  • Their unique nutty aromatic flavor is due to many fatty acids and essential volatile oils, which compose about 50% of  net weight. The seeds are especially high in oleic and linoleic acids. Oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fatty acid, helps lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increase HDL or "good cholesterol". Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids helps to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

  • Poopy seeds outer coat is rich in dietary fiber. 100 g seeds provide 19.5 g or 51% of recommended daily levels of fiber. Much of this fiber is metabolically inert which helps increase bulk of the food by absorbing water throughout the digestive system and easing constipation condition.

  • In addition, dietary fibers bind to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) and decrease their re-absorption in colon, thus help lower serum LDL cholesterol levels.

  • The seeds are excellent source B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid. Many of these vitamins functions as co-factors in substrate metabolism especially fat and carbohydrates.

  • Poppy seeds contain good levels of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, sperm generation, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the powerful anti-oxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.

  • Dried poppy seeds contain very small levels of opium alkaloids such as morphine, thebaine, codiene, papaverine etc. When consumed in food, these compounds produce minimal effect when consumed on human nervous system. On the contrary, the chemicals have beneficial effects on human body; soothe nervous irritability, act as pain-killers, and used in pharmacy as well as in many traditional medicines in the preparations of cough mixtures, expectorants etc.

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 525 Kcal 26%
Carbohydrates 28.13 g 22%
Protein 17.99 g 32%
Total Fat 41.56 g 139%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 19.5 g 51%

Folates 82 µg 20%
Niacin 0.896 mg 5.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.324 mg 65%
Pyridoxine 0.247 mg 19%
Riboflavin 0.100 mg 8%
Thiamin 0.854 mg 71%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin C 1 mg 2%
Vitamin E 1.77 mg 12%
Vitamin K 0 mg 0%

Sodium 26 mg 2%
Potassium 719 mg 15%

Calcium 1438 mg 144%
Copper 01.627 mg 181%
Iron 9.76 mg 122%
Magnesium 347 mg 87%
Manganese 6.707 mg 292%
Phosphorus 870 mg 124%
Selenium 13.5 µg 24%
Zinc 7.9 mg 72%

Selection and storage

Fresh whole or ground poppy seeds are readily available in stores. However, the seeds are high in polyunsaturated fats, which make them vulnerable for oxidation and turn rancid. Therefore, buy good quality whole seeds from authentic store wherever they are fresh.

Store seeds poppy in cool, dry, dark place, in airtight containers where they will stay fresh for up to six months.

Preparation and serving method

Poppy seeds are fond of in many cultures: the seeds add special nutty flavor to the recipes. Their flavor is somewhat augmented by roasting them in a pan under mild heat. Gentle frying releases special aromatic essential oils in the seeds and ads to their crunchiness.

Here are some serving methods:

Poppy, in general, are used either, in the form of whole seeds, ground or as thick or thin paste in recipes.

  • Like sesame, poppy used scattered on toasts, breads, seafoods before they are deep-fried.

  • In India and Pakistan, gently fried seeds are ground to make thin paste, which is then added as thickening in dips, curries and in sweet dishes.

  • In South India, poppy seed milk is used to prepare sweet recipe popular as kuskus payasam with added milk, coconut milk, cardamom, raisins, and sugar.
  • The seeds are widely used in confectionary like stuffing, rolls, bagels, sweet breads, biscuits, and cakes.

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