What Are the Benefits of Poppy Seeds?

While you might not think of poppy seeds as more than decoration for your bagel or salad dressing, the tiny black seeds prove that good things sometimes come in small packages. Poppy seeds not only have a mild flavor that makes them a welcome addition to a variety of dishes, but they also come packed with nutrients. Incorporate more poppy seeds into your diet to boost your fiber and mineral intake.

Scattered poppy seeds.

Dietary Fiber

Poppy seeds come loaded with dietary fiber, a type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods. They boast 3.4 grams of dietary fiber per 2-tablespoon serving -- 14 percent of the recommended daily intake for women and 9 percent for men, according to the Institute of Medicine. Fiber not only adds bulk to your food and stool -- which helps keep you feeling full and prevents constipation -- but it also lowers your blood cholesterol levels. Following a diet rich in fiber promotes long-term health, reducing your chance of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Calcium and Copper

Poppy seeds also serve as good sources of calcium and copper, two essential minerals. Each 2-tablespoon serving of poppy seeds provides you with 253 milligrams of calcium and 286 micrograms of copper -- 25 and 32 percent of your recommended daily calcium and copper intakes, respectively. Calcium is renowned for its role in bone health, but it also helps your heart and nervous system function. Copper keeps your connective tissues strong, strengthens your bones and protects your DNA from damage.

Phosphorus and Manganese

Phosphorus, along with calcium, makes up part of your bone tissue, while manganese makes collagen -- a protein that protects your bones from damage. Consuming a 2-tablespoon serving of poppy seeds boosts your phosphorus intake by 153 milligrams -- 22 percent of your recommended daily phosphorus intake -- and provides 65 percent of the daily manganese intake requirement for women and 51 percent for men.

Consuming More Poppy Seeds

Due to their small size, poppy seeds can be difficult to consume on their own as a snack. However, you can add a few spoonfuls of seeds to your favorite hot or cold cereal. You can also blend a few tablespoons of poppy seeds into fruit smoothies, or combine poppy seeds, strawberry puree and olive oil for a healthful salad dressing.

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