Nutmeg is commonly used in the preparation of various dishes across various cuisines. This spice is valued for its sweet aroma. Nutmeg is the seed or spice made by grinding the seed of the fruit of the fragrant nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) tree into powder. The nutmeg tree, also known as the fragrant nutmeg or true nutmeg, is a dark-leaved evergreen tree cultivated for two spices derived from its fruit; nutmeg from its inner seed and mace from the red, lace-like seed covering. Although their flavors are similar, nutmeg is said to be a warmer, spicier flavor, while mace is known for its mild flavor and the orange dash it gives the dishes it is used in.
The nutmeg tree is also treasured for its medicinal properties as its leaves and other parts of the tree are a commercial source of an essential oil and nutmeg butter, used for the purpose of beauty and other health benefits. The tree is said to be a native of Indonesia, found in the Spice Islands and now grows in Malaysia, the Caribbean, and Southern India too. So if you ever happen to find yourself in any of these places, nutmeg tree planting is something to consider. Just think of all the benefits you could derive from it!
How is Nutmeg Used?
The spice has a unique pungent fragrance and a warm, slightly sweet taste. Asides being an exotic spice, it is grouped in the category of aphrodisiacs. In food, only small quantities, such as a little grating or a pinch of the ground powder are used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes like many kinds of confectionaries, soups, puddings, meats gravies, sauces, steaks, vegetables, and beverages like mulled wine and eggnog or as a garnish over foamy coffee drinks.
In the United States, one of the most common uses is in desserts, especially apple or pumpkin pie. Now you know an important ingredient used in your favorite pies. On the other hand, if consumed in amounts exceeding its typical use as a spice, nutmeg powder may produce palpitations, allergic reactions, cause contact dermatitis which is an itchy inflammation of the skin, or have psychoactive effects such as altering perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behavior.
The Many Benefits of Nutmeg
Do you want to know more about this exotic spice? Let’s discuss it.
It Combats Insomnia
Nutmeg has a calming effect when consumed in smaller doses. Various ancient medicinal practices give it credit for its sleep-inducing and de-stressing effects. Insomniacs may add a pinch of nutmeg to a glass of warm milk and have it before sleeping. They also add in some almonds and a pinch of cardamom for added benefits.
Providing Vitamin B1
Nutmeg is an excellent source of Vitamin B1. Vitamin B1, also known as thiamin or thiamine, enables the body to use carbohydrates as energy. It is essential for glucose metabolism, and it plays a key role in nerve, muscle, and heart function. Vitamin B1 is a water-soluble vitamin, as are all vitamins of the B complex.
Providing Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin that the body needs for various functions. Studies have found that vitamin B6 may prevent clogged arteries and reduce heart disease risk. It also prevents and treats anemia by aiding hemoglobin production. Vitamin B6 is also useful in treating symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
Bad Breath or a Toothache? Nutmeg to the Rescue
Bad breath is one of the most embarrassing things anyone could ever deal with. Since its essential oils have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, nutmeg helps in freshening one’s breath and removing bacteria from the mouth, which are responsible for causing bad breath. It is commonly used as an ingredient for Ayurvedic kinds of toothpaste and gum pastes. The essential oil, eugenol helps in relieving toothaches and mouth sores as well. Isn’t nutmeg a favorite spice already?
It’s a Stimulant
It can be a stimulant, according to the body’s needs. It can lift one’s mood and acts as a tonic and stimulant, making it beneficial if one is recovering from an illness or is overtired.
As an adaptogen, it can also be a sedative. When consumed, nutmeg could help relieve stress and relax you, making it easier for you to fall asleep.
It’s an Aphrodisiac
Some sources consider this spice to be an aphrodisiac as well! As an aphrodisiac, nutmeg helps in stimulating the nerves in the brain. Well, you know how it goes from there.
Blood Pressure and Circulation
Its high mineral content makes nutmeg a good ingredient for regulating blood circulation and pressure. It contains calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, etc., which are all essential for various functions in the body. Its stress-reducing property helps in relaxing the blood vessels while keeping the heart functioning efficiently. Now you know it, nutmeg is good for your heart.
It Relieves Pain
Nutmeg contains many essential volatile oils like elemicin, eugenol, myristicin, and safrole. Its volatile oils have anti-inflammatory properties that make it useful for treating joint and muscle pain. Just a few drops of the essential oil on the affected area can treat inflammation, swelling, joint pain, muscle pain, and sores. This is a great alternative to the constant ingestion of painkillers.
It Treats Depression and Anxiety
Nutmeg is known to be an effective ingredient for treating depression and anxiety as its essential oil tends to ease fatigue and stress. In times of stress, it can help lower blood pressure. Nutmeg can also help with anxiety. What an uplifting spice!
It Enhances Brain Health
Nutmeg was commonly used as a brain tonic by the Greek and Romans during the ancient times. Studies have shown that it is generally good for brain health.
Leaving your Skin Beautiful
Not only is nutmeg good for your health, but it’s also great for your skin. Nutmeg is a great ingredient for skincare because of its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties as well as its ability to remove blackheads, treat acne and clogged pores. A common home remedy is to make a paste using nutmeg powder and a few drops of milk, then massage it into your skin before rinsing clean. You can also make a mix of equal parts of ground nutmeg and honey, make a paste and apply it on pimples. Leave it for 20 minutes, and then wash with cold warm.
It Aids Digestion
As with most kitchen spices, nutmeg is a carminative that helps digestion and can help reduce gas, bloating and diarrhea. So if a person is suffering from digestive issues like gas, diarrhea, constipation, or bloating, a dish with nutmeg in it is your go-to. A home remedy is to grate a pinch of nutmeg in your soups and stews and have it. It will help in the secretion of digestive enzymes, bringing about relief, while the fiber content in nutmeg will help in bowel movement.
Unhealthy lifestyle and improper diet can build up toxins in a person’s organs. Nutmeg is flaunted to help in detoxifying the body, clearing out toxins from the liver and kidneys.
It Enhances Memory
Myristicin, a component of nutmeg, stimulates the brain and helps with retention. It is also known to help in concentration. People who find it uneasy to concentrate would find nutmeg helpful.
As we have seen, helpful trace minerals found in nutmeg include potassium, calcium, iron, and manganese. It also contains antioxidants, vitamin C and some B vitamins. Nutmeg is safe to use in culinary amounts and can be used in higher amounts medicinally; under the prescription and supervision of a health professional, of course. If you are making hot cocoa, try adding nutmeg to get the healthy benefits and spicy taste it gives. Let us know what you think after you try it.