Just How Much Do You Know About the Health Benefits of Nutmeg?
by Carolyn Lee Sep 19, 2022
Many of us are familiar with the distinct smell and taste of nutmeg.
Also known as Myristica fragrans, this spice is commonly used to add flavour to many dishes.
From porridges to sauces, teas to muffins, nutmeg is that key ingredient that never disappoints.
We love this spice and its distinct nutty flavour, but how much do we know about its health benefits?
Nutmeg has many powerful compounds that promote overall health and may help prevent disease.
Let’s have a look.
What is nutmeg?
Nutmeg is a spice that can be found in whole-seed form; however, it is often sold as a ground spice. It comes from the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans), a native Indonesian evergreen tree that is also the source of mace.
Mace is the red, lace-like substance that covers the inner seed of nutmeg. Both nutmeg and mace are spices that are commonly used in cuisine and for their medicinal properties.
It can help to fight inflammation
Nutmeg is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds (monoterpenes, including sabinene, pinene and terpineol) that may help reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.
Cyanidins and phenolic compounds are antioxidants that can be found in nutmeg. These compounds have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
It has antibacterial properties
Nutmeg may inhibit the growth of harmful strains of Escherichia coli bacteria like O157, which can cause vomiting, severe diarrhoea and even death. The spice’s antibacterial properties have been proven to be effective against bacteria that can cause dental cavities and gum disease.
It’s packed with antioxidants
Antioxidants help to prevent cellular damage by neutralising free radicals and keeping their levels low. High levels of free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which is associated with some cancers, neurodegenerative and heart diseases.
The antioxidants found in nutmeg include essential oils, plant pigments and phenolic compounds, which may protect against chronic diseases and help prevent cellular damage.
Other useful benefits
Although additional research is needed to determine its effect on humans, laboratory research has indicated that the spice may help to boost mood, improve blood sugar control and enhance sex drive.
Possible side effects
While nutmeg has good health benefits, high doses could lead to side effects such as hallucination or loss of muscle coordination. Other serious side effects include vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and nausea.
When combined with other recreational drugs, nutmeg may even cause death. The side effects associated with nutmeg are linked to the compounds myristicin and safrole.
The content of this article is for information purposes only. Always speak to your doctor about your health and the right foods to include in your diet.