Poppy Seeds

Botanical Information

Poppy seeds come from the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, which is an annual plant native to the eastern Mediterranean region but is now widely cultivated in many parts of the world. The plant can grow up to 5 feet tall and has distinctive flowers that range in color from white to pink to purple. The seeds themselves are tiny, kidney-shaped, and usually bluish-gray in color.

Poppy seeds contain very few opium alkaloids and are not considered to be psychoactive. They are used primarily as a culinary ingredient, particularly in baked goods and pastries, and are also sometimes used in traditional medicine for their mild sedative and analgesic effects. Poppy seeds are a good source of healthy fats, fiber, protein, and various vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Nutritional Information

Poppy seeds are small, oil-rich seeds that are often used as a garnish or ingredient in baked goods, pastries, and savory dishes. They have a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and a crunchy texture. Poppy seeds are a good source of nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. They also contain fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

One tablespoon (9 grams) of poppy seeds contains approximately 46 calories, 1.6 grams of protein, 3.3 grams of fat, and 3.3 grams of carbohydrates, of which 1.7 grams are fiber. They are also a good source of thiamin, folate, and other B vitamins, as well as minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Poppy seeds are particularly rich in minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are important for maintaining strong bones and teeth, regulating muscle and nerve function, and supporting cardiovascular health. They also contain iron, which is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and the transport of oxygen throughout the body.

In addition, poppy seeds are a good source of antioxidants, which help to protect the body against damage from free radicals and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. They also contain healthy fats like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are important for brain function, heart health, and overall well-being.

While poppy seeds are generally safe to consume in moderation, it’s important to note that they can sometimes cause a false positive on drug tests for opioids. This is because they contain small amounts of morphine and codeine, which are the same compounds found in opium poppies. However, the amount of these compounds in poppy seeds are typically very low and is unlikely to cause any harmful effects.

Poppy seeds come from the opium poppy plant (Papaver somniferum) and have been used by humans for thousands of years for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The origins of poppy seeds are believed to be in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, where the opium poppy plant was first cultivated.

In ancient times, poppy seeds were highly valued for their medicinal properties and were used to treat a wide range of ailments, including pain, coughs, insomnia, and diarrhea. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans also used poppy seeds as a flavoring in their cuisine.

Poppy seeds have had a complex history, as they are derived from the opium poppy plant which is also used to produce opium, a highly addictive and illegal drug. While the use of opium poppy plants for medicinal purposes is legal in many countries, the use of the plant for drug production is highly regulated and illegal in many places.

Despite this association with drugs, poppy seeds have remained a popular ingredient in many different types of cuisine, from savory dishes to baked goods. In Jewish and Eastern European cuisine, poppy seeds are often used in desserts such as cakes, breads, and pastries. In Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, poppy seeds are used in spice blends and as a thickener for curries.

Today, poppy seeds are grown all over the world, with the largest producers being Turkey, the Czech Republic, and Spain. They are still used in traditional medicine in many cultures and continue to be a popular ingredient in cooking and baking. However, it’s important to note that poppy seeds can sometimes contain trace amounts of opium alkaloids, which can lead to false positive results on drug tests.

Poppy seeds have a range of potential health benefits. Here are some of them:

Nutrient-rich: Poppy seeds are a good source of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc, which are important for maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and immune function.

Improved digestion: Poppy seeds contain dietary fiber, which can promote digestive health by preventing constipation and improving bowel movements.

Reduced inflammation: Poppy seeds contain antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation in the body and protect against chronic diseases.

Improved sleep: Poppy seeds contain compounds that can help promote relaxation and improve sleep quality, making them a useful natural remedy for insomnia.

Enhanced brain function: Poppy seeds contain thiamin and other B vitamins, which are important for maintaining healthy brain function and cognitive performance.

Blood sugar regulation: Poppy seeds contain low levels of carbohydrates and a moderate amount of protein, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent spikes in blood glucose.

Reduced risk of heart disease: The high fiber and healthy fats in poppy seeds can help reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and protect against heart disease.

  • Check for freshness: Poppy seeds should be fresh and have a slightly sweet, nutty aroma. Look for seeds that are plump, uniform in color, and not dusty or dry.
  • Check the packaging: Buy poppy seeds that are packaged in airtight containers to ensure freshness and prevent moisture. Avoid buying seeds from open bins as they may be exposed to air and contaminants.
  • Check for purity: Make sure the poppy seeds are pure and do not contain any impurities, such as dirt or debris. This can be checked by looking closely at the seeds and checking the label to ensure it is pure poppy seeds.
  • Choose the right color: Poppy seeds can come in a variety of colors, ranging from white to dark blue. Generally, the darker the color, the more flavorful the seeds will be. However, color does not necessarily indicate quality, so choose based on personal preference.
  • Buy from a reputable source: Purchase poppy seeds from a reputable source, such as a grocery store or online retailer, that has a good reputation for quality products. This will ensure that you are getting high-quality poppy seeds that are safe for consumption.
  • Keep them in an airtight container: Poppy seeds should be stored in an airtight container to prevent them from getting exposed to air, moisture, and light.
  • Store in a cool, dry place: Poppy seeds should be kept in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or cupboard. They should not be stored in the refrigerator or freezer as this can cause them to lose their flavor and texture.
  • Keep away from sunlight: Sunlight can cause the poppy seeds to lose their flavor and aroma, so it’s important to store them in a dark place.
  • Label the container: It’s a good idea to label the container with the date of purchase so you can keep track of how long the poppy seeds have been stored.
  • Use them within a few months: Poppy seeds have a shelf life of around 6-8 months if stored properly. It’s best to use them within this time frame to ensure maximum freshness and flavor.

Poppy Seeds Recipes


4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes

2 tbsp poppy seeds (khus khus)

1 green chili, chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp red chili powder

1 tsp mustard oil

Salt, to taste

Water, as needed

Fresh coriander leaves, chopped, for garnish



  • Soak the poppy seeds in warm water for about 30 minutes.
  • Drain the water and grind the poppy seeds and green chili to make a fine paste.
  • Heat the mustard oil in a pan and add the potatoes. Sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, and salt. Mix well and cook until the potatoes are tender.
  • Add the poppy seed paste and mix well. Add some water if needed to adjust the consistency.
  • Cook for another 5-10 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or roti.


1 bunch of spinach, washed and chopped

2 tbsp poppy seeds

2 green chillies

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

Salt, to taste

2 tbsp mustard oil


  • Soak the poppy seeds in water for 15 minutes, and then grind them with green chillies to make a fine paste.
  • Heat the mustard oil in a pan and add the chopped spinach. Stir fry it for a few minutes until it is wilted.
  • Add the poppy seed paste to the pan along with turmeric powder and salt. Mix everything well.
  • Add a little water to the pan, cover it with a lid, and let it cook for 10-15 minutes on low heat or until the spinach is cooked through.
  • Once done, serve hot with rice or roti.

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