What is Nutmeg?
Botanically known as Myristica fragrans, nutmeg is a hard brown seed that grows on the nutmeg tree, native to Indonesia, which has a slightly sweet taste peculiar to Asian and Western dishes.
The nutmeg tree provides not one but two spices – mace and nutmeg.
Nutmeg is used in dishes like pies, custard, cookies, spice cakes, cheese sauces, soups, and vegetable dishes whereas mace is used in light-colored dishes to get saffron-like color.
Essential oils obtained by steam distillation of ground nutmeg are used extensively in pharmaceutical industries as well as a natural food flavoring in baked goods, syrups, beverages, and sweets.
Nutmeg has long been prized for its health benefits, which include strengthening cognitive functioning, detoxification, curing infertility, promoting healthy skin, reducing insomnia and improving blood circulation. It has a pungent and spicy aroma.
Health Benefits of Nutmeg
Since Roman and Greek civilizations, nutmeg has been used as a remedy for various ailments and for improving overall health. It helps to clear congestion in colds, stimulates the cardiovascular system, aids in detoxification and functions as a brain tonic. For pregnant women, regular massage of abdominal area with nutmeg oil, three weeks before delivery helps in a smooth delivery.
A 2007-study published in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand found that essential oils in nutmeg induce cell death apoptosis of leukemia cells, thereby stopping the metastasis of leukemia. Another study published in the May 2005 issue of Toxicology Letters demonstrated that nutmeg promotes apoptosis of brain cancer cells.
Some of the health benefits of this wonder spice include:
- Skin Health
Topical application of nutmeg paste mixed with water or honey works wonders for glowing skin. It possesses anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation and promote hydration as well as reduce acne and boils marks.
- Oral Health
Due to its antibacterial properties, nutmeg oil is used in many toothpastes as it reduces the build-up of bacteria in the mouth thus treating halitosis . As it is an antiseptic, it cures toothaches and gum problems.
- Relieves Pain
Nutmeg is used in Chinese medicine to treat abdominal pain because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Nutmeg oil is used in treatment of menstrual cramps, muscular and joint pain. Incorporating nutmeg in daily cooking reduces pain associated with wounds, injuries and chronic inflammation in arthritis. External application of nutmeg powder with sesame oil relieves rheumatic pain, neuralgia and sciatica.
- Digestive Health
Nutmeg helps in effectively treating digestion-related problems like diarrhea, constipation, bloating and flatulence. Nutmeg powder mixed with apple juice or banana is an effective remedy for diarrhea caused by indigestion. The nutmeg mix works as a digestive tonic by promoting peristalsis and secretion of various gastric juices and enzymes.
- Promotes Kidney and Liver Health
Nutmeg helps in detoxification of both the kidney and liver and improves overall functioning and efficiency of these two organs. It also reduces the incidence of kidney stones.
- Brain Health
Nutmeg oil works as a brain booster by improving blood flow to the brain and improving concentration. It contains compounds like myristicin and macelignan that reduce degeneration of neural pathways and cognitive function afflicting those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Treats Insomnia
Nutmeg is a magnesium-rich food, which reduces nerve tension and stimulates the release of serotonin, which functions as a sleep inducer, relieving people of insomnia. Drinking a glass of milk with nutmeg prior to bedtime is effective in treating insomnia.
Spiced up Yam Chips
- 2 large yams, sliced into inch thick pieces
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Olive oil and honey for drizzling
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Place the sliced yam pieces in an oven-safe dish. Drizzle little olive oil over it. Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg. Drizzle honey over the yam pieces.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Allow the chips to cool before serving.
Pumpkin Nutmeg Dinner Rolls
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
- 7 cups refined flour
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter
- 1 lightly beaten egg
- 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
- An egg wash made by beating 1 large egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water
* In a small bowl, proof the yeast with 1 teaspoon of the sugar in milk for 5 minutes, till the mixture becomes foamy.
* In another bowl, combine flour, nutmeg, salt, and the remaining sugar and butter until the mixture becomes coarse.
* Add egg, pumpkin puree, and the yeast mixture and stir the dough until it is combined properly.
* Divide the dough into 14 pieces, and form each piece into a ball. Place the balls into a buttered pan and let them rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
* Brush the rolls with egg wash and bake them in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 40 – 50 minutes.
* Serve hot.
Caution While Using Nutmeg:
* While nutmeg plays an important role in boosting overall health, large dosage i.e. 30 grams of nutmeg can be toxic, resulting in disorientation, double vision and convulsions.
* Side effects such as thirst, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth and abdominal pain might occur in some people.
* In pregnant women, nutmeg may cause miscarriages or birth defects and must be avoided.