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Are Poppy Seeds Safe During Pregnancy?

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Pregnancy is a time full of changes, from changes to your body to changes to your diet and you might feel like you’re constantly double-checking whether or not you can eat something.

If you’re a fan of poppy seeds in your recipes or on your salad, you may be wondering are poppy seeds safe during pregnancy? Here we have collected all the necessary information about eating poppy seeds during pregnancy to help guide you through your pregnancy and put your mind at rest.

Are Poppy Seeds Safe To Eat During Pregnancy?

You know you should be avoiding cured meats, alcohol, unpasteurized cheeses, and limiting your caffeine consumption, but should you be eating poppy seeds?

In fact, many pharmacists and doctors recommend avoiding poppy seeds, even in trace amounts during your pregnancy. Some physicians even recommend avoiding the amounts of poppy seeds found on bagels and muffins, as there is not enough research to determine whether or not they are safe. 

Why Should I Avoid Poppy Seeds?

You may wonder why you need to avoid poppy seeds, especially if this is a snack that you regularly enjoyed prior to getting pregnant.

Poppy seeds have a connection with opiates and heroin, as these are produced from the sap of poppy flowers, and this is the concern that doctors have with eating poppy seeds during your pregnancy. 

Eating poppy seeds can cause trace amounts of opiates or morphine in your bloodstream, and this is even more likely if your poppy seeds are contaminated. They can even cause a positive drug test result for opiates.

However, this is not something you should be overly concerned about. It’s not like a poppy seed bagel gets you high, but if you’re concerned it is probably best to avoid these seeds during your pregnancy.

While trace amounts of morphine or opiates from the poppy seeds in a mother’s bloodstream don’t pose a threat to your baby, this might be something you’d like to avoid.

What Are The Benefits Of Eating Poppy Seeds?

Poppy seeds are said to have numerous health benefits, including treating headaches, coughs, and asthma, promoting healthy digestion, and boosting the strength of your hair and nails.

Although there is not a ton of research, there is some that suggest the antioxidants from poppy seeds can protect you from some illnesses, and the use of poppy seed oil to flush through fallopian tubes can even aid and enhance fertility. 

What Foods Might Contain Poppy Seeds?

If you’re hoping to avoid poppy seeds, then you might be surprised at the number of foods that contain poppy seeds in some form. Here is a list of some of the most common ones to avoid:

Granola

Some granolas contain poppy seeds, so make sure you read through the labels carefully before deciding on a specific type of granola. If you’re unsure, skip this granola, and find one that is 100% poppy seed-free. 

Salad dressing

Lots of salad dressings contain poppy seeds, so it’s best to resort to making your own to avoid any poppy seeds. There are plenty of amazing recipes online that involve simple ingredients, from olive oil and lemon juice to balsamic vinegar. 

Bagels, rolls, and buns

There are tons of baked goods that make use of poppy seeds, from poppy seed bagels to everything bagels, buns, and rolls. If you can’t fathom the thought of a plain bagel, why not consider a sesame seed bagel, a cinnamon and raisin bagel, or an onion bagel. 

Cakes and muffins

All sorts of cakes and muffins contain poppy seeds, from poppy seed muffins to lemon poppy seed cake, so it’s probably best to avoid pre-made versions of these items if you’re skipping poppy seeds.

Consider baking your own if you just can’t do without lemon cake, or maybe consider trying an alternative baked good!

Babka

Babka is a Jewish dessert that contains poppy seeds, so it’s definitely one to avoid during pregnancy. Consider making your own version and substituting the poppy seeds if you just can’t do without it.

Substitutes For Poppy Seeds

If you’re cutting poppy seeds out of your diet during pregnancy, you may be looking for some alternatives. Here we have listed 5 of our favorite substitutions for poppy seeds, along with some of their benefits. 

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are light and nutty just like poppy seeds, and when toasted they make a great substitute. Untoasted seeds can also be used, although they won’t be quite the same.

And while sesame seeds are similar in flavor, they’re definitely a different size and texture, so you could try cutting or grinding the seeds to get them resembling a poppy seed. If you’re using sesame seeds in a recipe as a substitution for poppy seeds, they can be used as a 1:1 replacement. 

Sesame seeds are a good source of fiber and B vitamins, as well as lowering cholesterol and being a good source of protein. 

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are becoming increasingly popular due to their health benefits. Chia seeds have a reasonable amount of fiber and protein, as well as being full of antioxidants. They are touted as a weight-loss ingredient and are a celebrity diet staple, from chia puddings to a handful in a smoothie. 

Chia seeds resemble poppy seeds and have some crunch to them, as poppy seeds do. They work best in dry form as a poppy seed replacement, as when they are allowed to absorb liquids they take on a gel-like consistency.

These are best as a substitute for sprinkling on your bagels, muffins, or bread, rather than mixed into a recipe. 

Nigella Seeds

Nigella seeds are another option for substituting your poppy seeds. They are almost identical to poppy seeds, however, these tiny seeds are a hot commodity, and can be difficult to get ahold of.

They aren’t stocked in many grocery stores, but if you can get ahold of some, they make a great savory poppyseed substitute and are an Indian food staple. 

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds will need to be ground up in order to properly substitute poppy seeds, but they work well in a pinch. They won’t resemble poppy seeds, but they will taste like them, and they work well for recipes with poppy seed fillings.

They can be used as a 1:1 substitute for poppy seeds, although they should be measured when crushed for best accuracy.

Flax Seeds

Flax is another substitute but it will work best mixed into a recipe, and not sprinkled on top. They won’t offer much in the way of flavor, especially if you’re going for a really nutty flavor. However, flax is a great option for adding some much-needed crunch to your baked goods!

The Final Thought

Even if poppy seeds are a diet staple for you, it might be best to avoid them during your pregnancy if you are worried that they could pose a potential threat to your unborn baby. There are plenty of alternatives to poppy seeds, so hopefully, you won’t be missing them too much. 

And if you are concerned about any other dietary items, it might be worth consulting with your doctor, who will be able to advise you on the best alternatives to consume during your pregnancy. 

You might be wondering whether it’s safe to eat some other diet staples during your pregnancy, so if that’s the case, check out Can You Eat Burrata Cheese While Pregnant? Is It Safe? or Can you eat sour cream while pregnant?

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!