Nutty and pleasant in taste, Poppy seeds/Khashkhash (خشخاش, افیون, پوست) also known by its scientific name Papaver Somniferum are nutritious oilseeds used as condiment in cooking. Although the seeds obtained from the dry fruits (pods) of the poppy plant. Poppy seeds are popular ingredients and generally employed as condiment and to press oil.The seeds, indeed, are very safe to use as food and contain negligible quantities of toxic alkaloids of the opium poppy.
Health benefits of Poppy seeds:
- Poppy seeds contain many plant derived chemical compounds that found to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.
- Their unique nutty aromatic flavor is because of many fatty acids and essential volatile oils, which comprise about 50% of net weight. The seeds are especially rich in oleic andlinoleic acids. Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, helps lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increase HDL or “good cholesterol” levels in the blood. 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.
- Poppy seeds outer husk is a good source of dietary fiber. 100 g raw seeds provide 19.5 g or 51% of recommended daily levels (RDA) of fiber. Much of this fiber is metabolically inert content which helps increase bulk of the food by absorbing water down the digestive tract and thereby easing constipation problem.
- Additionally, dietary fiber binds to bile salts (a product of cholesterol) and decrease their re-absorption in the colon. It thus helps in a further decrease in blood 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 cofactors 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 utilized 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 cofactor for the powerful anti-oxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
- Dried poppy seeds contain very small levels of opium alkaloids such as morphine, thebaine, codeine, papaverine etc. When consumed in food, these compounds produce minimal effect on the human nervous system. On the contrary, these chemicals found to have some beneficial effects on the human body; soothe nervous irritability, act as painkillers. Its seed extractions found useful in pharmacy and in many traditional medicines in the preparations of cough mixtures, expectorants, etc.
Side effects of Poppy seeds:
At high doses, this herb is dangerous and can cause death through respiratory arrest or inhalation of vomit. Constipation often results from prolonged use. Frequent use may results in tolerance and dependence. Other side effects may also occur when using poppy seeds. As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.