The tiny poppy seeds hold a lot of surprises. In addition to offering a delicious flavor to bakery products, they have beneficial health properties.
Poppy seeds (Papaver somniferum) have been used as a traditional remedy for centuries. Its flowers produce small, round and bluish seeds, black or light to dark gray, depending on where they are grown. These seeds are used in baked goods and traditional dishes around the world.
Like most seeds, they are rich in fiber, unsaturated vegetable fats, and various micronutrients.
One tablespoon (10 grams) can provide 25% of the daily needs of manganese, 16% of copper, 10% of calcium and about 6-7% of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron and vitamin B1.
The seeds can be cold pressed to produce poppy seed oil, which is especially rich in omega-6 and omega-9 fats. It also contains small amounts of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) from the omega-3 family.
1. THEY STRENGTHEN BONES
The manganese that these seeds contain in abundance is a trace mineral important for bone health and blood clotting. This mineral also helps your body use amino acids, fats, and carbohydrates.
They are also high in copper, a mineral necessary to make connective tissue and transport iron.
2. RELIEVE PAIN
Poppies contain active ingredients with a powerful analgesic action, such as morphine, codeine, thebaine and other alkaloids that relieve pain and induce sleep. These compounds are found in the milky substance that is extracted from the capsule that contains the seeds and is known as opium.
Opium drugs and opiate drugs are extracted from the opium of a variety of purple and light flowers. The cultivation of this variety is legal but only for ornamental purposes. The rest of the varieties contain very small doses and the seeds have been cleaned so that they are free of this latex.
The seeds may contain traces of these compounds that can promote sleep and relieve pain. A study carried out at the German Sports University in Cologne proved that morphine and codeine can be found in the urine in sufficient quantities after consuming cupcakes with poppy seeds to be detected by anti-doping controls carried out on cyclists.
Some varieties, such as Papaver rhoeas, with characteristic red flowers that are easy to see in the fields, do not contain morphine, but rather rhoeadine, a mildly sedating substance.
3. THEY ARE GOOD FOR THE HEART
In moderate amounts, the unsaturated fats and antioxidant polyphenols in poppy seeds can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by up to 17%, especially if they substitute less healthy saturated fats.
Combining them with a rich source of omega-3s such as walnuts or flax seeds can enhance their heart-healthy effect.
4. THEY PROMOTE DIGESTION
Poppy seeds can aid digestion due to their richness in fiber, which improves intestinal health and fights constipation.
5. USEFUL AGAINST FERTILITY
In this case, the benefit is not produced by consuming the seeds, but as a consequence of a treatment that consists of irrigating the fallopian tubes with the oil of the poppy seeds.