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Can You Eat Poppy Seeds When Pregnant?

by
author image Sara Ipatenco
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.
Can You Eat Poppy Seeds When Pregnant?
Can You Eat Poppy Seeds When Pregnant? Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

When it comes to questions about what foods are safe to eat while pregnant, your obstetrician can guide you in making the healthiest food choices for you and your unborn baby. If you enjoy foods with poppy seeds, you may have heard the connection between them and opiates and heroin. Learning more about the effects of poppy seeds while pregnant will help you and your doctor determine whether they should have a place in your diet, or if you should wait until after you deliver.

About Poppy Seeds

Growing poppies is not against the law, but the seeds can be used to manufacture illegal drugs, most notably opium and heroin. It is also not illegal to eat or possess poppy seeds. There are dozens of different varieties of poppies and they have been used for their medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Ancient people used poppy seeds as medicine, as did doctors and nurses treating wounded Civil War soldiers. The compounds in poppy seeds that are used to make illegal drugs are highly addictive, but growing poppies remains legal in most countries. In the culinary world, poppy seeds are used for their flavor and do not tend to have addictive effects, since seeds only have trace amounts of opium elements.

Poppy Seeds During Pregnancy

Play close attention to what you put in your mouth while pregnant because what you consume can affect the development of your unborn baby. Drugs.com notes that it is most likely that the poppy seeds consumed in food are safe for pregnancy, but complete information is lacking regarding the safety of use while expecting. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment reports that women should avoid poppy seeds while pregnant because of their connection to illegal substances, but also because some types of poppy seeds are highly contaminated during the growing and harvesting process. Contaminated poppy seeds may pose a danger to you and to your unborn baby because of their high morphine or pesticide content.

Foods with Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds appear most often in baked goods such as lemon muffins and bagels. Since poppy seeds are dark blue in color it is relatively simple to determine whether your favorite baked good contains them or not. Many cakes, pies, rolls, breads and buns also have poppy seeds sprinkled on top or baked inside. Poppy seed salad dressing and some salads are other foods that contain these tiny seeds.

Alternatives

If you have decided you want to err on the side of caution and avoid poppy seeds while pregnant, there are some healthy alternatives. Sesame seeds are considered safe after your first trimester and can replace poppy seeds in or on your favorite baked goods. Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, can be baked into your favorite muffins or breads to replace poppy seeds. As always, ask your doctor if you have any concerns about the foods you choose while pregnant.

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