Have you tasted the cooling and refreshing Khus-khus sharbat on a scorching summer day? If you have, you will know about Khus Khus or poppy seeds. Poppy seeds are tiny, dried granules obtained from the flower of the poppy plant. These seeds belong to the category of oil seeds. The scientific name of the poppy plant is papaver somniferum. It is a flowering plant. 
The seeds of this plant are greyish-white or black and are below 1 mm in length. Also, the seeds of the poppy plant have a pitted surface. 2-pentyl furan is the chief flavoring compound in the seeds. 
Manufacturers and harvesters often use the sap or latex oozing out of the poppy pod to produce opioid drugs like oxycodone, morphine, and heroin. This implies that the poppy seeds, too, may sometimes contain a small percentage of opiate compounds. 
Poppy seeds are used widely for their therapeutic properties and also as a culinary ingredient.  In this article, we will talk about the various poppy seed benefits for health. We will also learn about the best way to consume poppy seeds and the potential side effects of poppy seeds. Read on to learn more:
Nutritional Value of Poppy Seeds
Before going into the poppy seeds benefits, you need to understand the nutritional profile of poppy seeds. The table given below shows the various nutrients in 100 grams of whole poppy seeds and their value.
|Saturated fatty acids
Poppy seeds benefits for health
1. Treats gastrointestinal issues
The mucilage content of poppy seeds supports gut health by reducing inflammation and preventing gastrointestinal disorders.
2. Prevents constipation
Poppy seeds can regularize bowel movements in individuals with chronic constipation issues. This happens due to poppy seeds’ high fiber content. 
3. Supports cardiovascular health
Monounsaturated fats in poppy seeds can reduce LDL or bad cholesterol levels and normalize blood pressure. This makes poppy seeds quite beneficial for your heart. Furthermore, the magnesium in poppy seeds dilates blood vessels, easing the blood flow and reducing the risk of heart attacks.
4. Treats insomnia
5. Improves brain health
Omega-3 fatty acids in poppy seeds can improve cognitive functions and brain health. This helps treat age-related cognitive decline.
6. Strengthens bones
Poppy seeds are high in calcium, a mineral that supports healthy bones and teeth. Therefore, intake of poppy seeds can prevent bone-related issues like Osteoporosis.
7. Manages blood sugar levels
Poppy seeds come with a low glycemic index.  Also, the high fiber content of these seeds slows down the process of digestion and release of sugar into the bloodstream. This prevents sudden sugar spikes. Thus, poppy seeds benefits can help in blood sugar management.
8. Aids in weight management
High in fiber, poppy seeds can curb your appetite and cravings by keeping you full for a long time. This can help you manage your weight. 
9. Enhances your mood
Poppy seeds can lift your mood. Compounds like Tryptophan and Omega-3 fatty acids can improve your mood. The mineral Magnesium in poppy seeds can improve the neurotransmitter function of your brain, enhancing your overall mood.
10. Eases dry cough
Poppy seeds can soothe throat irritation and dry cough. Taking poppy seeds in a glass of warm milk can ease the symptoms of a dry cough. 
11. Reduces abdominal pain
One of the poppy seeds health benefits is that poppy seeds may be used to treat abdominal cramping and pain associated with diarrhea. These seeds may relax the sore muscles of your abdomen and act as an effective analgesic with sedative impact. 
12. Promotes skin health
High amounts of antioxidants in poppy seeds can nourish your skin and reduce skin inflammation. The linoleic acid in poppy seeds may help reduce the severity of skin infections like eczema, itching, and burns. 
13. Treats mouth ulcers
Poppy seeds may be an effective home remedy for mouth ulcers due to their cooling nature. Applying a paste of poppy seeds on the mouth sores or ulcers can bring relief. 
14. Manages high blood pressure
Poppy seeds have oleic acid, which plays an important role in managing high blood pressure. This compound in poppy seeds can normalize blood pressure and also stop it from increasing. 
15. Improve female fertility
The oil extracted from poppy seeds affects the function and patency of the fallopian tubes. That helps support a healthy pregnancy. 
Did you know?
- The leaves of poppy seeds are edible and often used as a vegetable. 
- Poppy seed facial packs can moisturize your skin naturally! 
- When combining poppy seeds and cashew nuts, the result is marvelous in terms of cooking.
- In ancient times, the Roman and Greek athletes were given bread topped with poppy seeds. 
How to consume poppy seeds
- Poppy seeds in milk: Add poppy seed paste to a glass of warm milk and simply drink the mixture
- Poppy seeds tea: Steep poppy seeds in fuming hot water to make khus khus tea
- Poppy seeds in salad, naan, and baked goods: Sprinkle poppy seeds on baked food items like donuts, muffins., cakes, pastries, and buns or use to top naan puris. Furthermore, add a crunch to your salads by adding poppy seeds 
- Poppy seeds in desserts: The mind-blowing nutty flavor of poppy seeds makes them a perfect ingredient for desserts such as ladoos, halwas, barfis, sharbats, and milkshakes.
- Poppy seeds in chutneys, sabzis, and curries: Adding poppy seeds to gravies, chutneys, vegetable preparations, and curries not only enhances the taste and texture of these dishes but also thickens the preparations.
Some awesome poppy seed recipes
- Aaloo Posto: This classic Bengali dish uses stir-fried potatoes cooked in a creamy, white-coloured poppy seed sauce. The typical Bengali spice mix ‘panch phoron’ is used for tempering. This is a dry poppy seed dish relished with steamed rice or rotis.
- Khus Sharbat: This refreshing summer drink combines poppy seeds, sabja seeds, milk, fennel seeds, sugar as a sweetener, and a selection of dry fruits. This refreshing summer beverage can have an instant cooling effect on your body.
- Khus Halwa: this mouth-watering and rich dessert is made from poppy seeds combined with mill, sugar, and cardamom powder as a flavoring agent. The halwa has a richness about it!
- Poppy Seed Curries: In malai or shahi chicken or paneer curries, poppy seeds are a must. A smooth paste of poppy seeds is used in cooking these dishes, and that adds taste, smoothness, and luxuriousness to the preparations.
Potential side effects of poppy seeds
Though there are several poppy seed benefits, the poppy seed side effects also need to be paid attention to. Here are some of the potential side effects of poppy seeds:
- Breathing difficulties, pink eye, and redness of skin in people who are allergic to poppy seeds 
Cardiogenic shock, hallucinogenic effect, and reduced consciousness in people who fall prey to the adverse effects of the opium compound in poppy seeds. 
1. Why are poppy seeds so expensive in India?
In India, the cultivation of poppies for the seeds is prohibited in many areas because of its connection with opium. So, the production of these seeds is limited in the country. That makes these seeds highly expensive.
2. Are poppies an Indian flower?
The poppy flower has its origins in Europe, North Africa, and Asia. But later, this flower started to be cultivated in various other parts of the world. In India, the red Indian poppy flower is grown. It is a large-sized red flower with a black centre.
3. What are the various local names of poppy seeds in India? 
The various local names of poppy seeds are:
Posto Dana (Bengali, Assamese)
• Kashakasha (Malayalam)
• Aphina (Gujarati)
• Post Dana (Oriya)
• Khasakhasi (Kannada)
• Gasagasala (Tamil)
• Kashkash (Kashmiri)
• Aphu (Marathi)
4. Which is the best quality poppy seeds? 
The seeds that are collected before the incision of the poppy capsule for opium extraction are the best quality poppy seeds.
5. Can the oil extracted from poppy seeds be used? 
Yes, the oil extracted from poppy seeds can be used for various purposes. Given below are some of the uses of poppy seed oil:
• Used as cooking oil
• Used as a salad oil
• Used to make salad dressing and margarine
• Used in paints and varnishes as a drying oil 
• Used in the composition of certain soaps, emulsions, and ointments 
In this article, we have talked about the various poppy seed benefits. The high nutritional value of poppy seeds makes it a prominent health-enhancing ingredient. The ancient healing system of Ayurveda recommends the use of poppy seeds for treating various human diseases. In Indian cuisine, too, these seeds have a massive application. Indians are said to be obsessed with the typical flavor of poppy seeds. A vast array of delicious recipes is prepared from poppy seeds. In the various dishes of eastern India, poppy seeds are widely used. If you love the seeds for the taste they give to your dishes, you must also love them for their benefit to your health!
This article is written from a health and wellness perspective and is not medical advice. Kindly seek the help of a certified medical practitioner before initiating any treatment.
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