Health Benefits Of Poppy Seeds: Time For Some Poppy Power!

health benefits of poppy seeds

A smattering of poppy seeds can jazz up any cake, bagel, or bun, thanks to their pleasantly nutty flavor and crunchy texture. Poppy seeds also work well in vegetable stews, potato salads, and pasta. When crushed, the seeds act as a thickener and can be used in sour cream dips and as a filling for pastries. This tiny seed is one flavorsome ingredient, alright! But did you also know poppy seeds are also highly nutritious and have medicinal properties?1 Read on to find out how poppy seeds can do you a world of good.

1. Get A Nutritional Boost

Poppy seeds are rich in nutrients. These tiny seeds contain healthy fats and are also a source of minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc and vitamins like vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin E.2 Yes, the list looks endless! So the next time you indulge in a pastry or bagel, make sure your guilty pleasure is topped with some poppy seeds.


2. Apply A Poppy Seed Moisturizer To Tackle Dry Skin

Troubled by dry skin? Turn to poppy seeds, valued in the ancient science of ayurveda for their moisturizing properties. These seeds are rich in fatty acids which can form a protective barrier on your skin and prevent the loss of moisture.

Try this simple homemade moisturizer: Soak poppy seeds overnight and grind them with milk to make a soothing paste. Apply this and rinse after 15–20 minutes or once dry.3


3. Soothe An Irritated Throat With A Poppy Seed Drink

Are you struggling with throat irritation or a dry cough? Ayurveda has a remedy for you – mix a tablespoon of poppy seed milk and with a tablespoon each of coconut milk and honey. Have this before you turn in for the night.4

While this traditional remedy has not been scientifically tested, the presence of minute amounts of alkaloids like noscapine and codeine in poppy seeds may be responsible for this effect. These alkaloids work as cough suppressants and are even used in cough medicines.5 6 And coconut milk and honey both have potent antimicrobial properties as well, making this concoction all the more effective. 78


4. Ease Abdominal Pain With Poppy Seed Powder And Ghee

Poppy seeds are used in Southeast Asia as a remedy for stomach pain. Traditionally poppy seed powder is taken with a little ghee or clarified butter to ease pain.9 The effectiveness of poppy seeds may be due to the presence of papaverine, a compound that can relax smooth muscles in the abdomen.10

5. Calm Your Nerves And Sleep Better With A Poppy Seed Tea

A cup of calming poppy seed tea can help you sleep better according to ayurveda.11 Modern scientific research also backs this time-honored remedy. As one study found, having a poppy seed drink resulted in improved sleep and decreased anxiety in people suffering from insomnia. It was also observed that people who had the poppy seed drink had lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that’s released when you experience stress.12


Brew a decoction with poppy seeds and drink it about half an hour before bedtime for a good night’s sleep.

6. Replace Animal Fat With Poppy Seed Paste To Fight Cholesterol

If you love your burgers but are concerned about the high cholesterol content of meat, poppy seeds may work as a juicy replacement. One study found that by using 20% ground poppy seeds in meat burgers in place of animal fat, the researchers were able to significantly reduce the saturated fat and cholesterol in it – and they still scored well on texture and juiciness!13 Another study that used poppy seed oil to replace animal fat in sucuks, a dry sausage popular in Turkey, also found that it reduced cholesterol and saturated fatty acid content. Try experimenting with poppy seed oil or ground poppy seeds to make healthier meals when you cook at home.14


7. Beat The Heat With Thandai, A Poppy Seed Drink

Poppy seeds are an integral part of a traditional drink called thandai consumed during the hot summer months in India. Soak poppy seeds overnight along with cashew nuts, almonds, cardamoms, black pepper, and rose petals. Now grind them into a thin paste using milk and pass it through a muslin cloth. Add sugar and cold milk and you’ve got yourself a cooling drink based on ayurvedic principles that can beat the harsh heat of summer!15

Enjoy Poppy Seeds But In Moderation

Poppy seeds are a food best enjoyed in moderation. While they do have a lot of benefits, they may also have traces of narcotic alkaloids like morphine which can be addictive. The morphine is actually found in the seed pods rather than the seeds themselves, but poppy seeds tend to absorb or be coated with narcotic alkaloids during processing. In fact, the US Anti-Doping Agency suggests staying off foods containing poppy seeds a few days before a drug test at work or a sports competition to avoid getting a false positive.16