While I was preparing this, I had a nostalgic feeling of when I was younger, precisely in the 80’s. Bread was baked in our house for the family consumption and nutmeg happened to be the flavour added to it.
Many of us might have tasted it in cakes too; some people add it to jollof rice. However, don’t ever think it is for giving food flavour only, it does more!
Nutmeg is the seed of a tree. It is usually used in powdered form. It is the only tropical fruit that is the source of two different spices. This seed kernel is closely enwrapped by a crimson-red, lacy or thread-like arils known as ‘mace.’ Both spices (nutmeg and mace) feature a similar warm, sweet aromatic flavour.
It can impact on your health in many ways, mainly due to its nutritive content of vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds. These beneficial components include dietary fiber, manganese, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium and copper. The spicy nut contains fixed oil trimyristin and many essential volatile oils.
This spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help control heart rate and blood pressure.
It is also rich in many vital B-complex vitamins, like, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin. It has vitamin A, vitamin C and many flavonoid antioxidants like beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin essential for optimum health.
Some of its benefits include:
Skin care: A little nutmeg, ground and mixed with water or honey into a paste, can make skin look clearer and brighter within a few days, reducing scars and alleviating acne. You can also add nutmeg to your face scrub for the same benefits.
Herbal and traditional medicines have long used nutmeg to boost the appearance and health of your skin. Most commonly, it is applied as paste mixed with water, or even honey.
Digestive health: When you grind nutmeg into powder, it retains its fiber content which can stimulate the digestive process by promoting peristaltic motion in the smooth muscles of the intestine. Also, it induces the secretion of various gastric and intestinal juices that ease the digestive process. Since fiber can bulk up the bowel movements, it reduces the frequency and discomfort of constipation and other intestinal issues.
Brain health: Some of the lesser known benefits of adding nutmeg in any variety to your diet are the various components of its essential oil called myristicin and macelignan. These compounds have been proven to reduce the degradation of neural pathways and cognitive function that commonly afflicts people with dementia or alzheimer’s disease.
Body detoxification: Nutmeg acts as a tonic in many different ways, and therefore boosts the overall body health. More specifically, in terms of the liver and kidney where many of the toxins are stored and accumulated from the body, nutmeg can help eliminate them. It literally cleans those organs of all the toxins that may be stored there from alcohol, drugs, pollution, food, or natural organic toxins.
Furthermore, active ingredients in nutmeg help to dissolve kidney stones and increase overall function and efficiency of the kidney and liver.
Oral health: In traditional medical applications, nutmeg was considered the king of spices when it came to oral health. The active antibacterial components of nutmeg means that it helps to fight conditions like halitosis, also known as bad breath. It kills the bacteria that causes this embarrassing condition, and generally boosts the immunity of your gums and teeth. This is why nutmeg and its extracts are commonly found in toothpastes and mouthwashes, particularly in organic or herbal varieties.
Insomnia: For generations, nutmeg has been recommended as a home remedy for sleeplessness and insomnia. A pinch of nutmeg in warm milk always seemed to do the trick.
Cancer prevention: Another of the lesser known qualities of nutmeg is its potential use against cancerous cells. Studies have shown that a certain methanolic compound in nutmeg and its essential oil can actually induce cell death (apoptosis) in leukemia cells, thereby stopping the spread and metastasis of this terrible variety of cancer that commonly afflicts children.
Blood pressure and circulation: The mineral content of nutmeg means that it is valuable in terms of maintaining organ function. Potassium is a vasodilator which relaxes blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure and lowering the strain on the cardiovascular system.
Good for bones: The calcium found in nutmeg can boost the health of your bones by contributing to repair and growth, while relieving symptoms of osteoporosis.
Good for iron deficiency: The iron content can boost your red blood cell count and reduce your chances of developing symptoms of iron deficiency, also known as anemia.
Pain relief: One of the components of nutmeg is a compound similar to menthol, which has natural pain-relieving characteristics.
Therefore, by adding nutmeg as a spice to your cooking, you can reduce associated pain from wounds, injuries, strains, and chronic inflammation from conditions like arthritis.
The oil is also used as a local massage to reduce muscular pain and rheumatic pain of the joints.
Aphrodisiac effects: Increased sexual activity has been demonstrated in male rats with ethanolic extracts of nutmeg, providing some support for the use of nutmeg as an aphrodisiac (An aphrodisiac is an agent,food or drug that arouses sexual desire).
Sperm booster: It can increase the volume of a man’s sperm count.
Nutmeg and diabetes: In studies done in India with rats, nutmeg extract lowered glucose, stimulated beta cells to release insulin, improved blood lipids, and controlled body weight.
How nutmeg is used?
If you like nutmeg, it is best to buy a nutmeg kernel, along with a nutmeg grater, to grate your own fresh nutmeg.
As with most ground spices, ground nutmeg loses its flavour over time. Always store nutmegs in a tightly closed container, away from light
You can test the freshness of your nutmeg kernel by pricking it with a pin. If it is fresh, a drop of oil should seep out.
The amount of nutmeg that we typically use in cooking or baking is harmless. However, ingesting more than two teaspoons of ground nutmeg (or roughly one nutmeg kernel) may cause some unpleasant side effects.
Toxicologists say it takes a fair amount of nutmeg — two tablespoons or more, before people start exhibiting symptoms. These can include an out-of-body sensation. But the most common are intense nausea, dizziness, extreme dry mouth and a lingering slowdown of normal brain function.