Chow Town

November 5, 2013

Though little, poppy seeds pack a healthy punch

I remember growing up and eating poppy seeds on bread and wondering if I was going to get high from them.

Chow Town

The daily dish on Kansas City's food and drink scene

I remember growing up and eating poppy seeds on bread and wondering if I was going to get high from them.

Of course, I didn’t. However, still to this day I hear people joke about eating the famous poppy seed and seeing if they can get high on them.

Even though opium and poppy seeds are correlated, poppy seeds do not contain any narcotic properties and hence one can benefit from poppy seeds nutrition without the effects of opium. The fluid present in the bud which becomes opium is absent in the poppy seeds once the seeds are formed.

Hence poppy seeds can be used as food and its oil which is rich in linoleic acid — an important omega-6 fatty acid — is great for your health, protecting the heart against cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks. The poppy seed oil also helps to prevent breast cancer.

Apart from consuming poppy seeds in its raw form or toasted on bagels and sweet breads, a paste made from the seeds can be used as a poultice in obtaining relief from swellings and joint pains.

Poppy seeds are known to add a distinct taste and flavor to food dishes. However, their culinary use is not the most important; these seeds also have several health benefits. Poppy seeds are a good source for minerals that are required for the proper functioning of organs. Some of these minerals include calcium, zinc, magnesium, and so on.

Poppy seeds are highly nutritious seeds but they are known to affect drug tests. Consuming poppy seeds can lead to a drug test being positive, if the test is for opiates. This is due to the fact the poppy seeds and heroin come from the same plant — the opium poppy. The main culprit behind this is not the poppy seeds but the pods or unripe seed capsules of the plant.

During the collection of poppies, the opiates from the pods are transferred to the poppy seeds. This accounts for the positive result on a drug test. Poppy seeds can contain trace amounts of codeine and morphine. Even eating a poppy seed bagel and going for a test after this can lead to a positive result.

Having said this, poppy seeds are full of nutrition. They are a good source of calcium and beneficial in pregnancy as they are a good food for pregnant and lactating mothers.

Here is a recipe for poppy seed dressing the Cook family used on their salad as long as I can remember. I made this and sold it to the old Payless Grocery stores many years ago under the Cook’s Classic brand. You can change the taste by adding chopped onion or a few raspberries.

Poppy Seed Dressing 1/3 cup white sugar 1/2 cup white vinegar 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground dry mustard 1 cup vegetable oil 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, vinegar, salt, and mustard and process for 20 seconds. With blender or food processor on high, gradually add oil in a slow, steady stream. Stir in poppy seeds. Great on fruit salads also.

Donna Cook is the owner of Rabbit Creek Gourmet Foods in Louisburg, Kan. She is also a Master Gardener, Master Food Volunteer and on the board of directors of the Home Baking Association.

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