Poppies are stunning flowering plants that have enchanted people all over the world with their vivid colors and delicate petals for generations. Poppies have both culinary and medical benefits, though they are most frequently used for their decorative value. This article will explore the world of poppies, investigating their health benefits as well as potential interactions and legalities to be mindful of.
Poppy seeds come from the seedpod of the opium poppy, however, after thermal processing they only contain trace amounts of opium alkaloids and are unlikely to cause any opiate effects.
Poppy seeds are a good source of dietary fiber and include healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids.
While the concentration of opiates in poppy seeds is very low, they have occasionally caused false positives on drug tests.
It is legal to buy poppy seeds for consumption in the U.S., but the cultivation of opium poppies is prohibited.
Are poppy seeds good for you?
Despite their small size, poppy seeds have a surprising amount of nourishment. They contain good amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus, and also include vitamins like vitamin E and vitamin B1 (thiamine). These vitamins and minerals are essential for our bodies to maintain overall health and well-being.
Poppy seeds benefits
Including poppy seeds in your diet may provide you with the following:
- Nutritional value. Dietary fiber, which supports digestion and helps avoid constipation, is abundant in poppy seeds. They also include good fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy for the heart and brain.
- Antioxidant properties. Antioxidants found in poppy seeds include flavonoids and phenolic substances. These antioxidants assist in defending the body from oxidative stress and lower the risk of developing chronic illnesses including heart disease and some cancers.
- Skin health. Poppy seeds include vitamins and minerals that can support healthy skin. These nutrients nourish the skin, support collagen synthesis, increase skin suppleness, and help maintain a youthful, bright appearance.
Risks of poppy seeds
Although poppy seeds boast an impressive nutritional profile, it's worth making yourself aware of potential risks associated with their consumption.
- Drug interactions. Poppy seeds may interact with sedatives and painkillers, among other drugs. Before consuming poppy seeds, it's best to speak with your healthcare professional if you are taking any prescription medications — just to be on the safe side.
- Allergies. Poppy seeds may cause allergic reactions in certain people. From minor symptoms like itching and hives to more serious ones like difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis, allergic reactions can manifest in a variety of ways. Use caution when eating poppy seeds if you have known allergies to nuts or seeds.
When to plant poppy seeds
As with any plant, knowing when to put the seeds in the ground is vital if you want to grow your own poppies. Since poppy seeds prefer lower temperatures, they are usually sown in the early spring or fall. They don't transfer well, so experts suggest sowing them straight into the ground. For optimum growth, make sure the soil is well-drained and situated in a sunny area.
Before you plant poppy seeds, make sure to familiarize yourself with the laws surrounding growing poppies in your country. They are not permitted for cultivation in some countries.
Are poppy seeds allowed in the US?
Poppy seeds are available for sale and consumption in the U.S., however, the opium poppy is considered a schedule II controlled substance and cultivating poppies is strictly prohibited.
Make sure the poppy seeds you buy for cooking are meant for consumption, not for cultivation before you buy them. Poppy seeds that are intended for food use will have undergone thermal processing — which dramatically reduces the opium alkaloid content of the seeds and renders them safe for human consumption.
Will poppy seeds show on a drug test?
Poppy seeds originate from the seedpod of the opium poppy and while the amount of opiates in poppy seeds is relatively little and unlikely to have any opioid effects, it can result in a false positive on a sensitive drug test.
The majority of drug tests have a cut-off point over which a positive result is noted. Opiate thresholds can vary, although they are often higher than what is observed in daily poppy seed consumption.
How many poppy seeds before you test positive?
The precise amount of poppy seeds required to get a positive drug test result depends on a few variables, including:
- Test sensitivity
- Concentration of opiates in the seeds
Although poppy seeds have been known to occasionally cause a false positive, it is unlikely that eating a teaspoon will influence your test. However, if you have a drug test coming up, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution and avoid poppy seeds for a few weeks before the test.
How to incorporate poppy seeds in your diet
Poppy seeds can add a delightful nutty flavor and a slight crunch to various dishes. Here are some ideas for incorporating poppy seeds into your diet:
- Baked goods. Sprinkle poppy seeds on top of bread, muffins, or bagels before baking. They add a delicious texture and visual appeal.
- Salad toppings. Add poppy seeds to your favorite salads for a nutritional boost. They pair well with leafy greens, fruits, and vinaigrette dressings.
- Yogurt or oatmeal. Stir in a tablespoon of poppy seeds into your yogurt or oatmeal to enhance their taste and nutritional value.
- Asian cuisine. Poppy seeds are commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Explore recipes like poppy seed paste-based curries or use them as a seasoning for stir-fries.
- Desserts. Incorporate poppy seeds into cakes, cookies, or puddings to introduce a unique flavor profile and visual appeal.
Easy lemon and poppy seed cake recipe
Now that you are well versed on the benefits of poppy seeds, why not try making something delicious at home? Here is one of our favorite recipes — with the added benefit of being quick and easy to make.
- 7 oz (200 g) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease
- 9 oz (250 g) self-raising flour
- 7 oz (200 g) caster sugar
- 1.5 tbsp poppy seeds
- Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
- 4 medium eggs
- 5 oz (150 g) natural yogurt
- 6 oz (175 g) icing sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Lemon peel and poppy seeds for decoration
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160°C fan (338°F) mark 4. Grease and line the base and sides of a round 20.5 cm (8 in) cake tin with baking parchment paper.
- Grab a large bowl and mix the flour, sugar, poppy seeds, and lemon zest. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs and yogurt until combined and smooth. Pour the mixture into the flour bowl and whisk to combine.
- Put the mixture into the cake tin, making sure it's level and bake for 50 minutes or until golden on top. Use the skewer test and insert one into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Leave it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add enough of the lemon juice until it's a thick and spreadable consistency. Spread the icing over the top of the cake and encourage it to dribble down the sides. Decorate the top with lemon zest and a sprinkling of poppy seeds. Allow the icing to set and then serve your delicious cake in slices.
Poppy seeds have a number of health advantages, including their possible antioxidant capabilities and nutritional worth. It is crucial to be knowledgeable about potential hazards and drug interactions, though. Enjoy the flavor and beauty of poppy seeds while staying aware of the possible repercussions — whether you are eating them or growing them in your yard.
Are poppy seeds safe in pregnancy?
Poppy seeds are generally safe to consume during pregnancy. However, it's important to moderate intake due to their potential to contain trace amounts of opiates. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice regarding your specific circumstances.
How to get poppy seeds from a poppy
To get poppy seeds from a poppy plant, wait for the flower heads to dry and turn brown. Then, carefully shake or tap the heads over a container to collect the small black seeds that fall out.
- Journal of Analytical Toxicology. Poppy seed consumption may be associated with codeine-only urine drug test results.
- Frontiers in Chemistry. Opium alkaloids in harvested and thermally processed poppy seeds.
- Functional Foods in Health and Disease. Review on physicochemical, medicinal and nutraceutical properties of poppy seeds: a potential functional food ingredient.