Poppy seeds usually get relegated to bagels and other baked goods — and they have earned a bad reputation for causing false-positive drug test results — but they are also one of the best things you can add to your diet. What are the health benefits of eating poppy seeds, and how can you include them in your daily diet?
Health Benefits of Poppy Seeds
Other than tasting good on a muffin or bagel, poppy seeds have so much more going for them! Let's take a closer look at some of the health benefits of poppy seeds.
You may not worry about your fiber intake unless you have a problem with bowel regularity. In addition to maintaining a healthy digestive tract, getting enough insoluble fiber in your diet can help with weight loss and can help control blood sugar levels. Two teaspoons of poppy seeds contain roughly 14 percent of your daily intake of insoluble fiber, which helps you feel full longer and helps to lower your bad cholesterol.
Enjoy some poppy seeds on your salad or in a smoothie to increase your insoluble fiber intake – and try to enjoy more insoluble fibers like whole grains and fresh produce rather than soluble fibers like oats or non-whole grain products.
A glass of milk a day keeps the orthopedic surgeon away, or so they say. Calcium is an essential mineral for bone growth and health. It also helps your muscles, including your heart, and your nerves function properly and there are some studies that suggest that getting enough calcium in your diet can help to protect against diabetes, high blood pressure and even cancer.
As adults, we don't drink milk as often as we should and are at risk for calcium deficiencies. A serving of poppy seeds contains about 4 percent of your daily intake of calcium.
Phosphorus is one mineral that is often overlooked but it is essential for bone growth, healthy digestion, preventing bone problems like osteoporosis and arthritis, and even helps to ensure that your brain functions properly. It functions to help your body regulate your hormone levels and helps you absorb nutrients more efficiently.
You can get almost the same amount of phosphorus as calcium from a serving of poppy seeds. It's easier than you might think to get enough of this overlooked little mineral in your diet.
A lack of iron in your blood stream has its own name – anemia – so that gives you an idea of how important this mineral is. It helps to keep your immune system functioning properly, improves oxygen circulation, and can even help to treat neurological issues like insomnia and restless leg syndrome.
Iron gets stored in your blood and muscles and is an essential mineral for overall health. Women need more than twice as much iron a day than men, and you can get roughly 2 to 4 percent of your daily intake of iron from a serving of poppy seeds.
Zinc is another overlooked mineral that is essential for overall health. It helps to support both organ and immune systems and ensures skeletal and reproductive health. Not having enough zinc in your diet can lead to you getting sick more often, make it harder for you to heal from wounds and can even impact your concentration.
While zinc deficiency is uncommon in the United States, you still need to be eating at least eight to 11 milligrams of zinc every day. A single teaspoon of poppy seeds contains between 2 and 3 percent of your daily zinc intake.
Antioxidants in food help ward off signs of early aging and may even have some applications in cancer prevention. You can find healthy antioxidants in everything from dark chocolate to red wine, but if you're not a drinker or not a fan of sweets you might be wondering how you can add these healthy chemicals to your diet. Enjoy some poppy seed bagels, that’s how – poppy seeds contain a high amount of antioxidants, as well as a healthy amount of protein.
Poppy seeds are high in a good fat, specifically oleic acid, which lowers bad cholesterol. Lower bad cholesterol can reduce your chance of developing heart disease in the future. You can find these good fats in things like fish – especially salmon and other fatty fish – walnuts, oil and eggs but they can be a pain to cook – why not just add some poppy seeds to your diet?
Sounds pretty good for a humble little seed, right? You can get at least part of your daily intake of iron, zinc, and many other essential vitamins and minerals just by adding some poppy seeds to your diet. They can easily be added to smoothies, sprinkled on top of your favorite salad or yogurt, or incorporated into some very tasty desserts. Their subtle earthy flavor compliments so many foods that you may find yourself adding poppy seeds to just about everything!