Health Benefits Of Nutmeg: 10 Reasons To Spice It Up!
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Health Benefits Of Nutmeg
Nutmeg is great for your heart as it lowers cholesterol and reduces plaque in arteries. It is commonly used to combat gastrointestinal infections and flatulence. This spice improves insulin sensitivity, prevents cavities, and boosts memory and learning capacity. It can also help with depression, work as a sleep aid and aphrodisiac, and fight inflammation. A nutmeg oil massage can relieve aching muscles and joints.
Can you imagine a rice pudding or a spiced gingerbread without a pinch of heady nutmeg? This spice has been used in both savory and sweet dishes for centuries. In fact, in the 18th century, people would carry nutmegs in pocket-sized silver graters so they could enjoy it whenever they wanted.
This seed (that’s right, it’s a seed, not a nut!) is a nutritional powerhouse, rich in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc, as well as vitamins such as vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin A as well.1 Flavonoids, lignans, and alkyl benzene derivatives like myristicin also give it a range of medicinal benefits.2 Let’s take a look at all that this fragrant spice can do for you.
1. Lowers Cholesterol And Reverses Plaque In Arteries
Keeping your cholesterol under control is important for keeping your heart healthy. And nutmeg might be able to do just that. One animal study found that when subjects with high cholesterol were given nutmeg, it reduced their LDL cholesterol by 76.3% and prevented triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids from accumulating in the heart, liver, and arteries. But that’s not all. It was also able to combat experimentally induced atherosclerosis by reducing plaque size. Nutmeg is thought to work by hampering the absorption of cholesterol.3
2. Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Nutmeg may also be able to help you manage your blood sugar levels. In healthy people, insulin triggers the movement of glucose out of the blood into cells, where it is used to produce energy. But sometimes, you develop insulin resistance, that is, your body doesn’t respond properly to insulin and glucose builds up in your blood. And over time, this can lead to diabetes. However, research indicates that nutmeg can improve your body’s response to insulin by activating a protein regulated by insulin which transports glucose.4
3. Combats Flatulence And Gastrointestinal Infections
Nutmeg has traditionally been used to handle gastrointestinal disorders. The ancient science of ayurveda recommends it for diarrhea and it is also widely used to combat flatulence. Studies show that the extract of nutmeg has antidiarrheal properties. It’s also worth noting that nutmeg acts against bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori and Escherichia coli which cause intestinal infections.5 So try a pinch of nutmeg the next time your tummy gives you trouble.
4. Nutmeg Mouthwash Prevents Cavities
A nutmeg mouthwash is just what you need to keep your pearly whites free of cavities. According to research, macelignan, a compound present in nutmeg, works well against Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria mostly responsible for dental caries.6 Steep nutmeg in boiling water to make a tea and use it as a mouthwash to get rid of oral pathogens.7
5. Improves Your Memory And Learning Capacity
Nutmeg may be able to improve your memory. Memory is an extremely complex function which involves many neurotransmitter systems and neural pathways. And research indicates that the flavorsome nutmeg may make it sharper. One animal study found that when a nutmeg extract was given orally for 3 days to aged and young subjects, it enhanced learning and memory. Though the researchers were not able to pinpoint the exact mechanism through which nutmeg worked, they suggested that the potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of this spice may play a part here.8 So if you’re forgetting where you left your keys once too often, turn to nutmeg for some help!
6. Helps Fight Depression
Depression is a serious mood disorder that requires the attention of a mental health professional. But adding a pinch of nutmeg to your soup or dessert can be a helpful step too. Animal studies have found that this spice has significant antidepressant-like effects. These beneficial effects seem to be due to its ability to impact neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin which impact mood.9
7. Works As An Aphrodisiac
The ancient Greeco-Arab system of medicine known as unani has long valued nutmeg for the treatment of sexual disorders in men. And this appears to be borne out by science too. One animal study found that nutmeg was able to produce a sustained increase in the sexual activity of male subjects. This effect can be attributed to nutmeg’s nerve stimulating property.10
8. Fights Inflammation
Prolonged inflammation is harmful to your body and has been linked to various health issues such as atherosclerosis, arthritis, and allergies. Some nutmeg power will come in handy here too. Studies have found that nutmeg has anti-inflammatory properties. It inhibits proteins such as TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 which play a part in the inflammatory response.11 Quercetin, a flavonoid present in nutmeg, may be responsible for this anti-inflammatory effect.
9. Nutmeg Oil Massage Relieves Pain
Animal studies have found that nutmeg oil has analgesic properties.12 No wonder then that herbalists and aromatherapists have long advised a warming nutmeg oil massage to relieve muscle aches and joint pain.13
10. Nutmeg With Warm Milk Aids Sleep
Banish sleepless nights with nutmeg. This spice is known for its sedative properties. According to the ancient science of ayurveda, having 1/8 of a teaspoon of this spice in warm cow’s milk before going to bed can help you settle in for a good night’s sleep.14
Enjoy The Benefits But Use Nutmeg In Moderation
Nutmeg works particularly well with creamy and starchy foods and makes a great flavor combination with both cinnamon and oranges. You can season rice puddings, butter-rich mashed potatoes, and custards with it or use it on cakes and muffins to amp up the yum factor. Keep in mind that while whole nutmegs keep for many months, ground nutmegs deteriorate very quickly. So it’s best to freshly grate this spice on your dishes.15
While nutmeg does have a ton of benefits, it’s not advisable to consume large amounts of it. According to toxicologists, excessive amounts of this spice can be poisonous. Even as little as 2 tablespoons of this potent spice can bring on side effects that range from dizziness, nausea, and dry mouth to a slowing down of your brain and hallucinations. How much is safe for you will also depend on your individual constitution and body mass. So, while you can use it in small amounts to season food, lay off larger quantities. It’s also not recommended during pregnancy as it can induce abortions.16
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Basic Report: 02025, Spices, nutmeg, ground. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|2, 5.||↑||Jaiswal, Preetee, Pradeep Kumar, Vinay K. Singh, and Dinesh K. Singh. “Biological Effects of Myristica fragrans.” Annual review of biomedical sciences 11 (2009).|
|3.||↑||Sharma, A. R. T. I., R. I. T. U. Mathur, and V. P. Dixit. “Prevention of hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis in rabbits after supplementation of Myristica fragrans seed extract.” Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology 39 (1995): 407-410.|
|4.||↑||Shyni, G. L., Kavitha Sasidharan, Sajin K. Francis, Arya A. Das, Mangalam S. Nair, and K. G. Raghu. “Licarin B from Myristica fragrans improves insulin sensitivity via PPARγ and activation of GLUT4 in the IRS-1/PI3K/AKT pathway in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.” RSC Advances 6, no. 83 (2016): 79859-79870.|
|6.||↑||Chung, J. Y., J. H. Choo, M. H. Lee, and J. K. Hwang. “Anticariogenic activity of macelignan isolated from Myristica fragrans (nutmeg) against Streptococcus mutans.” Phytomedicine 13, no. 4 (2006): 261-266.|
|7.||↑||Alexander, Leslie M., and Linda A. Straub-Bruce. Dental Herbalism: Natural Therapies for the Mouth. Simon and Schuster, 2014.|
|8.||↑||Parle, Milind, Dinesh Dhingra, and S. K. Kulkarni. “Improvement of mouse memory by Myristica fragrans seeds.” Journal of medicinal food 7, no. 2 (2004): 157-161.|
|9.||↑||Dhingra, Dinesh, and Amandeep Sharma. “Antidepressant-like activity of n-hexane extract of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) seeds in mice.” Journal of medicinal food 9, no. 1 (2006): 84-89.|
|10.||↑||Ahmad, Shamshad, Abdul Latif, Iqbal Ahmad Qasmi, and Kunwar Mohammad Yusuf Amin. “An experimental study of sexual function improving effect of Myristica fragrans Houtt.(nutmeg).” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 5, no. 1 (2005): 16.|
|11.||↑||Dewi, Kartika, Budi Widyarto, Pande Putu Erawijantari, and Wahyu Widowati. “In vitro study of Myristica fragrans seed (Nutmeg) ethanolic extract and quercetin compound as anti-inflammatory agent.” (2015).|
|12.||↑||Olajide, Olumayokun A., J. Modupe Makinde, and S. Olubusayo Awe. “Evaluation of the pharmacological properties of nutmeg oil in rats and mice.” Pharmaceutical biology 38, no. 5 (2000): 385-390.|
|13.||↑||Curtis, Susan, Pat Thomas, Fran Johnson. Neal’s Yard Remedies Essential Oils: Restore * Rebalance * Revitalize * Feel the Benefits * Enhance Natural Beauty * Create Blends. Dorling Kindersley Ltd, 2016.|
|14.||↑||Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic medicine: the principles of traditional practice. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2006.|
|15.||↑||Nutmeg. British Broadcasting System.|
|16.||↑||A Warning on Nutmeg. The New York Times.|
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.