Known by the vernacular names khus khus in Hindi, kasakasa in Tamil and Gasagasalu in Telugu, this flowering plant is widely cultivated across South eastern Europe and eastern and southern Asia.
Poppy, which goes by the botanical name Papaver somniferum is not only beneficial for its use in culinary applications but also for its wide range of health benefits in treating a host of ailments including heart problems, digestion, hair and skin issues, insomnia, diabetes, bone disorder and neural problems.
In the medieval period, poppy seeds were widely used as sedatives. It was used in milk, opium or a mixture of honey to calm crying babies, aid in sleeping and also improve fertility issues in women.
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There are 3 main varieties of poppy seeds available which are white poppy seeds (also known as Asian or Indian poppy seeds and are used in cuisines), blue poppy seeds (also known as European poppy seeds and are used in bread and other confectionary items) and oriental poppy seeds (also known as opium poppy, which produces opium and has commercial applications).
Health Benefits Of Poppy Seeds
Poppy seeds and their oil is extremely beneficial for boosting female fertility. A blocked fallopian tube doesn’t allow the fertilized egg to attach itself to the uterine wall. Flushing the fallopian tube with poppy seed oil dissolves any debris or mucus particles from the fallopian tube and helps to clear the blockage, hence increasing the chances of fertility. Several researches also suggest that presence of lignin in the poppy seeds has an aphrodisiac effect which increases libido and enhances sexual health.
The abundance of magnesium in the poppy seeds help reduce the levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone and thereby attenuates stress and improves the quality, duration and provides a peaceful sleep. Consuming poppy seed tea or paste of poppy seed with milk, before going to sleep is highly effective in regulating body metabolism, inducing sleep and treating sleep disorders like insomnia.
Improves Cognitive Functioning
The abundance of iron in poppy seeds makes it a natural blood purifier and increases red blood cell and haemoglobin count in blood. Proper supply of oxygen and red blood cells to the brain regulates production of neurotransmitters and increases the cognitive functioning, making poppy seeds one of the brain foods that help you concentrate and reduce the risk of diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s .
Boosts Bone Health
Poppy seeds are incredibly rich in calcium, besides the trace minerals copper and zinc. These are essential in improving bone mineral density, strengthening the bones and connective tissue and preventing them from breaking. Presence of manganese also helps in the production of collagen in the bones, protects the bone from damage and enhances overall bone health.
Aids in Digestion
Being an excellent source of fiber, poppy seeds are extremely beneficial in promoting digestion and increases absorption of nutrients from the food. It also treats constipation and allows easy passage of food through the alimentary canal.
Enhances Cardiovascular System
The immense amount of dietary fibres in poppy seeds reduce bad cholesterol levels and keep good cholesterol up. Loaded with iron, it acts as a natural blood purifier and helps in increasing the haemoglobin and red blood cell count of the blood. Oleic acid reduces the blood pressure levels and Omega-6 fatty acids in poppy makes it extremely beneficial for the heart and also reduces chances of heart attacks and blockages.
Augments Skin and Hair Health
Poppy seeds being a powerhouse of antioxidants and essential nutrients reduce skin inflammation, scalp infections and promotes overall skin and hair health. The high amount of linoleic acid in poppy makes it extremely effective in treating eczema, burns and itching. Applying poopy seed paste as a mask on the face helps in treating acne and pimples and provides a clear, glowing complexion, to make you beautiful.
It also stimulates hair growth, treats dandruff and prevents hair fall.
The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of poppy seeds play a pivotal role in treating different types of ulcers like ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcer, canker sores or mouth ulcers, etc. The bioactive compounds in the seeds of poppy encourage tissue regeneration and promotes wound healing.
Simply make a pellet by mixing some grounded poppy seeds to crushed dry coconut, and powdered sugar candy and suck on this for instant relief from mouth ulcers.
Regulates Blood Pressure
The presence of oleic acid in poppy seeds actively helps in normalizing the blood pressure levels and keeps it under check. It is extremely pivotal in both high and low blood pressure conditions. By promoting the heart functions, it enhances cardiovascular endurance and hence diminishes the chances of cardiac anomalies like heart attack, heart blockage, stroke etc.
Thanks to the wealth of antioxidants and bioactive components, Poppy seeds offer several folk remedies for improving the immune system, resisting microbes and shielding the body against various infections. It also portrays the presence of strong anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and antifungal properties, and mineral zinc which is extremely effective in preventing infections like fever, common cold, sore throat, and other respiratory anomalies.
Ways To Incorporate Poppy Seeds In The Diet
Poppy seeds are used in spectrum of cuisines across the globe that renders a rich nutty flavour to the dishes. They should be cleaned well to remove any stones or impurities before using.
Poppy seeds should be soaked in warm water or milk for 2 hours. Soaked seeds are ground with other spices to thicken gravies or used as such.
Poppy seeds are tasteless, but when heated attain a nutty, spicy-sweet flavour. Roasting or baking offer a mild sweet smell, while deep frying releases aromatic oils, which makes it crunchier.
Poppy seeds are added in bakery products like muffins, cookies, bread, they are also added to salads and vegetables.
Top it on toast or cheese to add some crunch.
Tomato, Chickpea, Feta Salad
1 cup diced cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a bowl add all the ingredients and blend well.
Relish the wholesome salad.
Chickpea is a wholesome food that delivers ample amounts of proteins, dietary fibres, vitamins, for regulating blood sugar and managing weight. Low in calories and high in antioxidants tomatoes boost immunity and uplift skin health. Poppy seeds bestowed with a treasure trove of nutrients promotes fertility, induces sound sleep, and improves cognitive functions.
These nutty seeds with a distinct aroma and flavour are mostly used in the form of condiments. Packed with carbohydrates, proteins, dietary fibres, electrolytes, essential vitamins and minerals, these seeds are extremely beneficial for treating a host of ailments including heart problems, kidney disorders, sleeplessness, gastrointestinal issues and promotes cognitive functioning and overall health.