Poppy seed is an oilseed obtained from the poppy. The tiny kidney-shaped seeds have been harvested from dried seed pods by various civilizations for thousands of years. Also called khas khas.
White poppy seeds Papaver Somniferum) are native to the Middle East and are most commonly used in Indian cooking. The seeds have a nutty flavor which is brought out by lightly toasting. The toasted seeds can be used atop steamed vegetables, rice or noodles. In India the seeds are used as a thickener in curries and also made into a paste and used as a filling. The seeds have a mellow, nutty flavor with a sweet, rich texture. Curries thickened and enriched with poppy seeds are particularly popular in Northern India. In turkey they are made into halva or deserts and in the Middle East they are mainly used sprinkled over cakes and breads.
As the name explains, poppy seed is a seed from the poppy plant. But, is it edible, and does it have any health benefits? We will learn all this and much more through this blog.
What are poppy seeds?
Poppy seeds are the small kidney-shaped oilseeds produced by the opium poppy flower. Poppy seeds are black, bluish-grey, or white in color.
The tiny poppy seeds and the oil derived from the seeds have been used as a traditional remedy by various civilizations for many centuries. However, there are no scientific studies to prove the remedial properties of poppy seeds.
Poppy seeds are still used in many countries in Central Europe and South Asia in a variety of recipes. In these countries, the seeds are grown legally and sold in shops.
In the coming section, we will look into some of the most commonly believed health benefits of poppy seeds.
Nutritional benefits of poppy seeds
- Rich in antioxidants- Polyphenols are a type of antioxidants found in poppy seeds. Polyphenols reduce the risk of heart disease.
- High in fiber- Like most other edible seeds, poppy seeds are fibrous, thus improving your gut health and digestion.
- Great source of manganese- Poppy seeds contain a good amount of manganese that helps with blood clotting and also improves bone health.
- Rich in plant fats- The plant fats found in poppy seeds are believed to improve heart health.
- Has pain relieving properties- Poppy seeds contain compounds like morphine, codeine, thebaine that have calming, pain-relieving, and sleep-inducing properties. It is therefore used as a remedy to cure insomnia.
- Improve hair and skin health- The antioxidants found in poppy seeds are good for skin and hair. It is believed that applying poppy seed oil cures scaly lesions on the skin. It also supports wound healing.
Even though these findings are promising, more study is required to authenticate the nutritional benefits of poppy seeds.
Flavor of poppy seeds
Poppy seeds have a nutty flavor that is augmented by light toasting. The mellow nutty flavor has a sweet and rich texture that is ideal for halwa, desserts, cakes, and bread.
How to use poppy seeds?
Poppy seeds are used as a whole or ground as an ingredient in many recipes. While many people add whole poppy seeds to bake bagels, bread, and muffins, others use them in their ground form for traditional culinary recipes.
In India, white poppy seeds are mainly used for culinary purposes. The seeds are slightly toasted and mixed in steamed vegetables, rice, or noodles. In Shahi Paneer, the most popular Indian vegetarian curry, the poppy seeds are slightly toasted, ground into a fine paste, and added as a thickener for the curry.
- One must always wash poppy seeds before using them as they are easily prone to be contaminated thus causing infection.
- One must observe caution while consuming poppy seeds as they contain opioids. It can lead to addiction and overdose leading to complications. Experts advise that it is safe to consume poppy seeds in small quantities.
- One must purchase poppy seeds from a trusted retailer and not a roadside vendor.
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