Nutmeg is one of those spices closely related to winter festivities. Surprisingly enough, it comes from the same tree that produces another perhaps less known spice, mace.
The fruit of the nutmeg tree contains nut-like seeds. their kernels, when grounded, produce that unique flavor and aroma we associate with winter celebrations.
This process also releases nutmeg’s substantial volatile oils and their healing potential. Here are a few of nutmeg’s intriguing health benefits:
1. It Improves Digestion
Nutmeg comes with high fiber content. Getting enough fiber from your food is essential for a healthy digestive system. This spice also encourages the secretion of gastric fluids, which assist in proper digestion. It also has a long use as a natural medicine for the treatment of several intestinal issues such as constipation and diarrhea.
2. It Helps Your Body Detox
This spice not only helps you digest meals more easily but can also work as a natural tonic and promote overall health. Studies indicate that nutmeg has the ability to eliminate toxins which accumulate in the liver and kidneys and can improve the function of these organs.
3. It is a Rich Source of Essential Minerals
Nutmeg owes much of its health potential to its high mineral content. It is a source of potassium, a mineral that relaxes the blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, and overall contributes to a healthy cardiovascular system.
In addition, it is a good source of iron and can help in the prevention of iron deficiency. Nutmeg also contains calcium, an important nutrient for bone health and preventing osteoporosis, as well as a substantial amount of manganese, which can assist in calcium absorption.
4. Fights Insomnia
You may be surprised to know that nutmeg is also a traditional remedy for sleeplessness. A warm cup of milk with a pinch of nutmeg is often recommended for dealing with insomnia. Thanks to its high magnesium content, it has the ability to reduce nervous tension and promote feelings of relaxation and sedation. Magnesium also contributes to the production of serotonin, which, in turn, is converted to melatonin, an important chemical for sleep regulation.
5. It Offers Pain Relief
Another area where nutmeg maybe uses is pain management. It contains eugenol, a compound with analgesic properties that basically works as a natural painkiller.
A pinch of nutmeg in your favorite hot beverage can also help you deal with headaches and migraines.
What’s more, it can relieve pain in muscles and joints, and alleviate chronic inflammation which is present in conditions such as arthritis.
6. It Could Improve Brain Function and Mental Health
A pinch of nutmeg in your morning tea or even coffee may just be the thing to improve your mood. Animal studies carried out in India found that nutmeg has similar effects to common anti-anxiety medications and that it may improve learning and memory.
Another study found this spice to produce anti-depressant effects, not unlike those of popular depression treatments.
Moreover, nutmeg’s active compounds, such as myristicin and macelignan, can help maintain brain function and slow down cognitive decline.
These properties can be useful in the prevention and treatment of conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
How to Use Nutmeg during this Holiday Season
You can find nutmeg both whole and in powdered form. Nonetheless, it’s best to add freshly-ground nutmeg in your dishes. You can also pair it with several other spices, including cinnamon, allspice, clove, ginger, lemongrass, and coriander.
Nutmeg complements sweet and savory recipes.
Here are few you can take advantage of its potential this holiday season:
- Add it to recipes that feature pumpkin as their main ingredient.
- Sprinkle a bit of nutmeg over your hot chocolate or cocoa.
- Flavor your holiday pies. You can add some nutmeg to the filling or the crust.
- Make some mulled wine-this is a very popular Old World holiday treat.
- Add it in your apple crumbles, and, of course, in your spiced Christmas cake.
- Eggnogs and beyond: Nutmeg goes really well with dairy products such as milk, cream, cheese, and custards.
- Grate a little bit of nutmeg over sweet potatoes or rice pudding.
However you decide to enjoy nutmeg, it’s a good idea to remember that a small pinch goes a long way. This is a potent spice, so moderation in consumption is very important. Use it sensibly to make the most of its health benefits without dealing with the effects of excessive consumption.
Aggarwal, Bharat B., and Debora Yost. Healing Spices How To Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease. Sterling, 2011.
Staughton, John. “9 Surprising Benefits of nutmeg”.
organicfacts[dot]com, 13 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Nutmeg.