Poppy seeds have been compliments to traditional diets and medicines for thousands of years. Originally cultivated in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, their uses were written about in Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Greek scripture.
Poppy seeds come from the notorious and beautiful poppy plant. While it is the sap of the poppy seed pod that famed opiates like heroin, morphine and legally sanctioned addictive hard drugs like oxycodone come from, poppy seeds themselves do indeed contain trace amounts of opiate compounds.
Within the tiny black kidney-shaped poppy seed is found high levels of dietary fiber, B vitamins and several important minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and zinc, all of which have been linked to digestive, heart and immune health. Zinc-deficiency in particular has been connected to type 2 diabetes, as has magnesium.
Poppy seeds and their crunchy texture and nutty flavor are popular additions to recipes in many traditional European, Turkish, Indian and Jewish cuisines, to name but a few. They are used as a natural remedy for everything from pain, anxiety and insomnia, to skin ailments and oral ulcers. In addition to its traditional medicinal uses, poppy seed oil has also become an important commercial product as an alternative to several unhealthful and environmentally questionable vegetable oils, such as palm, soy and corn oil. The Czech Republic is currently the world’s largest producer of poppy seeds, followed by Turkey, Spain and Hungary.
While the cultivation of the poppy plant remains controversial and often illicit, know that when eating a poppy-seed bagel or using poppy seed oil for cooking, it is mostly a tasty and healthful addition to the meal.
Resources and Further Reading
You can actually fail a drug test by eating Poppy seeds:
Zinc and Type 2 diabetes: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24476591
History and potential medicinal benefits of Poppy Seeds:
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