9 Surprising Benefits of Nutmeg

by John Staughton last updated -

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Nutmeg is a popular spice having a long list of health benefits, including its ability to relieve pain, soothe indigestion, and improve cognitive function. It extends its ability to detoxify the body, boost skin quality, alleviate oral conditions, and reduce insomnia. Nutmeg strengthens the immune system, prevents leukemia, and improves blood circulation as well.

What is Nutmeg?

Nutmeg is one of two spices that grow on an evergreen tree, with the scientific classification Myristica fragrans, also known as common nutmeg. It is native to islands near Indonesia but is now a globally used spice. These trees bear nutmeg, which is the seed of the tree, as well as mace, a less common spice derived from the dried reddish shell of the seed. This is the only tree which is the source of two distinct spices in the world. It is commonly grown in the Caribbean, other tropical areas of the world, and also in Southern India in the state of Kerala.

Nutmeg is a delicate, slightly sweet spice that is widely used in cuisines around the world. The tree is also highly valued because of the essential oils derived from the bark and leaves, and nutmeg butter is also a popular derivative food that packs a healthy punch. The essential oils from nutmeg extract are highly beneficial to health and are frequently used in alternative and herbal medicine.

Nutrition Facts

Spices, nutmeg, ground
Serving Size :
Water [g]6.23
Energy [kcal]525
Protein [g]5.84
Total lipid (fat) [g]36.31
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]49.29
Fiber, total dietary [g]20.8
Sugars, total [g]2.99
Calcium, Ca [mg]184
Iron, Fe [mg]3.04
Magnesium, Mg [mg]183
Phosphorus, P [mg]213
Potassium, K [mg]350
Sodium, Na [mg]16
Zinc, Zn [mg]2.15
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]3
Thiamin [mg]0.35
Riboflavin [mg]0.06
Niacin [mg]1.3
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.16
Folate, DFE [µg]76
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]5
Vitamin A, IU [IU]102
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]25.94
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]3.22
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.35
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Nutmeg Nutrition Facts

While nutmeg is only a spice that is used sparingly in dishes, it can still impact your health in a variety of ways, mainly due to its nutritive content of vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds related to essential oils. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, these beneficial components include dietary fiber, manganese, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, copper, and macelignan.

Health Benefits of Nutmeg

The health benefits of this amazing spice are explained in greater detail below.

Relieves Pain

One of the components of nutmeg is similar to menthol, which has natural pain-relieving characteristics. Therefore, by adding it as a spice in your cooking, you can reduce the pain associated with wounds, injuries, strains, and chronic inflammation from conditions like arthritis. Nutmeg known for its analgesic properties was used in the pain relief formulations by Leonard St Bernard, Head Laboratory Services Division, W and W Spices Grenada Ltd., and others who received a patent for it.

Promotes Digestion

When you grind nutmeg into a 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 also reduces the frequency and discomfort of constipation and other intestinal issues.

Improves Brain Health

One 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 macelignanThese compounds have been proven to reduce the degradation of neural pathways and cognitive function that commonly afflicts people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that myristicin and macelignan slow those effects and keep your brain functioning at a normal, healthy level.

Detoxifies the Body

Nutmeg acts as a tonic in many different ways and, therefore, boosts the overall health of your body. Dr. Frank Gonzalez, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Maryland, US, in his study throws light on the hepatoprotective properties of nutmeg. More specifically, it can help eliminate the toxins stored and accumulated in the liver and kidney. It literally cleans those organs of all the toxins stored from sources like alcohol, drugs, pollution, or food. Furthermore, the active ingredients in nutmeg help 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 present in it fight conditions like halitosis, also known as bad breath. It kills the bacteria that causes this embarrassing condition and boosts the immunity of your gums and teeth, as per a study cited in the Biological Forum – An International Journal. This is why, nutmeg and its extracts are commonly found in toothpastes and mouthwashes, particularly in organic or herbal varieties.

Treats Insomnia

For generations, nutmeg has been recommended as a home remedy for sleeplessness and insomnia. A pinch of nutmeg in warm milk always seems to do the trick. It has a high content of magnesium, an essential mineral in the body that reduces nerve tension, and even stimulates the release of serotonin, which creates a feeling of relaxation or sedation. This serotonin is changed to melatonin in the brain, which is a sleep inducer, thus relieving people of their problems with insomnia and restlessness at night. Nutmeg also has trace elements of narcotics, which have no dramatic effect unless taken in massive quantities. However, a small amount can help you release various neurotransmitters which, in turn, help induce relaxation and sleep.

Treats Leukemia

Another of the lesser known qualities of nutmeg is its potential use against cancerous cells. A study published in Chemico-Biological Interactions has shown that a certain methanolic compound in it and its essential oil can actually induce cell death (apoptosis) in leukemia cells. This helps in stopping the spread and metastasis of this terrible variety of cancer that commonly afflicts children.

nutmeginfoSkin Care

Although the exact mechanism is not fully understood, herbal and traditional medicines have long used nutmeg to boost the appearance and health of the skin. Most commonly, it is applied as a paste mixed with water, or even honey, which is also great for skin care. It can help reduce inflammation and irritation of the skin, promote hydration and a smooth appearance, as well as reduce the signs and marks from pox, boils, and acne.

Regulates Blood Pressure

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. Furthermore, it facilitates the uptake of nutrients from food, making digestion an efficient and speedy process. The calcium found in nutmeg can boost the health of your bones by contributing to repair and growth while relieving symptoms of osteoporosis. Finally, the iron content can boost your red blood cell count and reduce your chances of developing symptoms of iron deficiency, also known as anemia.

Word of Caution: Nutmeg has come under considerable suspicion since the cases of accidental poisoning have increased in recent years. Excessively consuming it can have psychotropic, hallucinatory, or narcotic effects on people, and many people tried to duplicate those effects recreationally. Unfortunately, consuming a huge amount of nutmeg can complicate your bodily processes, as it is a potent spice meant to be used in small quantities. Consuming too much of it can result in seizures, irregular heart palpitations, and vomiting.

When used appropriately, as a spice, the benefits are obvious, but keep the amount under control, and find your thrills somewhere else!

About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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