Poppy seeds are good sources of protein and dietary fiber, as well as some essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and magnesium.

Poppy seeds are small, black, and kidney shaped. They have been part of traditional Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets for thousands of years.

In more recent years, they have become more popular in the United States. People have been using them in recipes such as bagels and muffins as well as eating them raw.

The seeds come from the poppy plant. Manufacturers use the sap of the poppy plant to make opioid drugs such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. This means that poppy seeds can sometimes contain small amounts of opiate compounds.

Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits and nutritional information associated with poppy seeds. This article also covers the potential risks associated with consuming too many.

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According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 100 grams (g) of raw, whole poppy seeds contain:

Energy536 calories
Protein21.43 g
Total lipid (fat)39.29 g
Carbohydrate28.57 g
Fiber25 g
Sugars3.57 g
Calcium1,250 milligrams (mg)
Iron9.64 mg
Magnesium357 mg
Sodium0 mg
Zinc8.04 mg
Vitamin C0 mg
Vitamin A0 international units (IU)
Fatty acids, total saturated5.36 g
Fatty acids, total trans0 g
Cholesterol0 mg

A portion of poppy seeds, which is about 28 g or three tablespoons (tbsp), contains:

NutrientAmountPercentage of recommended Daily Value (DV), where available
Energy150 calories
Protein6 g
Total lipid (fat)11 g
Carbohydrate8 g
Fiber7 g25%
Sugars1 g
Calcium350 mg26%
Iron2.7 mg15%
Magnesium100 mg24%
Sodium0 mg
Zinc2.25 mg20%
Vitamin C0 mg
Vitamin A0 IU
Fatty acids, total saturated1.5 g
Fatty acids, total trans0 g
Cholesterol0 mg

Poppy seeds are rich sources of a number of nutrients, such as:


Three tbsp of poppy seeds contain about 6 g of protein. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that people should try to get 50 g of protein per day, based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

The body uses protein to build and repair its cells and body tissues. Protein is also important for several bodily processes, including:

  • fluid balance
  • immune response
  • vision
  • blood clotting
  • the production of hormones, antibodies, and enzymes


Poppy seeds are also good sources of dietary fiber. A 3-tbsp portion contains 28% of an adult’s DV.

Fiber is important for the following reasons:

  • It can help lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. People sometimes call LDL cholesterol “bad” because it can increase the risk of heart disease and heart attack.
  • It can help control levels of glucose, or sugar, in the blood. This is particularly important for people with diabetes.
  • It helps food and waste move through the digestive system, preventing constipation.
  • It helps people feel full, possibly helping them avoid overeating.


Poppy seeds are high in calcium, which is a mineral that the body needs to maintain strong bones and teeth. A 3-tbsp serving of poppy seeds contains 35% of an adult’s DV of calcium.

The body also uses calcium to:

  • move the muscles
  • carry messages between the brain and other parts of the body via the nerves
  • help blood move through the blood vessels
  • help release hormones and enzymes


The body also needs magnesium to stay healthy. A 3-tbsp serving of poppy seeds contains 35% of an adult’s DV of magnesium.

This nutrient plays an important role in many of the body’s processes, including:

  • regulating muscle function
  • regulating nerve function
  • balancing blood sugar levels
  • balancing blood pressure
  • making protein
  • maintaining bone
  • making DNA


Data suggests that a 28-g serving of poppy seeds contains 2.25 mg of zinc, or 15% of an adult’s DV.

Zinc helps the immune system protect the body against bacteria and viruses. It helps wounds heal and is important for the maintenance of the senses of taste and smell. The body also needs it to make protein and DNA.

During pregnancy and childhood, the nutrient is essential in making sure that young bodies grow and develop properly.

Poppy seeds can contain trace opioid compounds.

A report from the European Food Safety Authority in 2011 said that poppy plant sap, which manufacturers use to make opioids, can sometimes contaminate the seeds.

However, it is also true that food processing, such as cleaning and cooking, can reduce these compounds by around 90%.

To be completely safe, experts recommend that people limit the number of raw poppy seeds they eat to about 1 tbsp per 7 pounds (lb) of body weight. This means that someone who weighs 150 lb, or 70 kilograms, should not eat any more than 7 tbsp of raw poppy seeds at a time.

There are currently no FDA recommendations regarding the upper limit for poppy seed consumption. However, there are few reports of adverse reactions arising from the traditional consumption of poppy seeds in foods.

It is also worth noting that eating poppy seeds can sometimes lead to failed drug tests. Learn more here.

Poppy seeds are great sources of many of the nutrients the body needs to stay healthy. These include protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

The seeds do come from the same plant that manufacturers use to make opioids such as heroin. Sometimes, they may be contaminated. However, washing and cooking the seeds will remove most of the opioid compounds.

People should try to limit the number of raw poppy seeds they eat in order to avoid any of the possible side effects, even though these are rare and not usually serious.