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13 Surprising Benefits That Nutmeg Provides

13 Surprising Benefits That Nutmeg Provides June 26, 2018

Nutmeg is a popular spice used across the world for the flavor it imparts. But that’s just one side of the equation. This spice has also been used for thousands of years, primarily for its health benefits. Well, what could they be? How can this ancient spice make your life better? Keep reading. You will get the answers!

Table Of Contents

What Is Nutmeg?
What Are The Health Benefits Of Nutmeg?
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Nutmeg?
What Are The Side Effects Of Nutmeg?

What Is Nutmeg?

Nutmeg is a spice that is made from the seeds of the nutmeg tree (scientifically called Myristica fragrans). It is native to Indonesia, and it has a warm and spicy flavor.

The most common ways nutmeg is used in the United States are in desserts (like apple pie), beverages (like mulled wine), and even as a garnish over certain coffee drinks. In fact, it goes quite well with creamy and cheesy dishes.

But why nutmeg? What’s the big deal?

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What Are The Health Benefits Of Nutmeg?

1. Helps Prevent Cancer

Sources say that the essential oil of nutmeg can act as an antioxidant and prevent cancer in the process. It achieves this by stalling the formation of certain blood vessels that feed tumors. Other studies have also shown how the oil could prevent colon cancer (1).

Another study shows how a spice mixture containing nutmeg can potentially combat cancer. Including nutmeg in your daily diet can have therapeutic effects against cancer (2).

2. Can Aid Diabetes Treatment

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Nutmeg is one rich source of triterpenes, compounds that have antidiabetic properties. Studies show how the oil can relieve symptoms associated with chronic illnesses, diabetes being one of them (3).

3. Relieves Arthritis Pain

Nutmeg has shown to ease chronic inflammatory pain, which is the primary characteristic of arthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties of nutmeg can reduce joint pains and inflammation associated with arthritis.

4. Treats Insomnia

In smaller doses, nutmeg can have a calming effect that can induce sleep and treat insomnia. The spice was also used in ancient medicine as a way to de-stress and calm one’s mind. Adding a pinch of nutmeg to a glass of warm milk and taking before bedtime can aid better sleep.

The mild sedative actions of nutmeg have been recorded in studies, which prove its ability to treat insomnia (4).

5. Improves Digestion

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The essential oils in nutmeg have a carminative effect – meaning they help reduce flatulence. Issues like diarrhea, constipation, gas, and even bloating can be relieved by consuming it. Nutmeg also promotes the secretion of the digestive enzymes, further aiding digestion.

It also contains fiber, which can help in bowel movement.

6. Eases Pain

Nutmeg is often used to treat spasms and pain. In fact, nutmeg extract is applied to relieve pain – especially in the muscles and joints. Nutmeg also contains methanol that possesses pain-relieving properties. Which is why including this spice in your diet can reduce the pain associated with wounds and injuries and strains.

There are other volatile oils in nutmeg like elemicin, eugenol, and safrole – all of which have anti-inflammatory properties and help alleviate pain associated with inflammation.

7. May Lower Cholesterol Levels

Though there is less information on this, some sources speak of the manganese levels in nutmeg. The mineral works as a catalyst for cholesterol breakdown, and this may help in lowering cholesterol levels.

8. Improves Dental Health

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Nutmeg is a powerhouse of antibacterial properties, and that is how it contributes to oral health. The spice is known to treat dental issues like cavities, toothache, and even tooth decay in some cases.

The antibacterial properties of nutmeg can also eliminate bad breath.

9. Might Aid Weight Loss

The only known way nutmeg might aid weight loss is through its soporific (sleep-inducing) properties. Consuming nutmeg in your dinner can make you fall asleep faster, thereby keeping you away from binging. And the fiber in the spice might also contribute to weight loss.

10. Treats Anxiety

Nutmeg contains trimyristin, which, as per studies, showed to cause anxiogenic (reducing anxiety) responses. Nutmeg also works as an antidepressant and can help in treating depression. The spice is basically a brain tonic that stimulates your brain. It even helps eliminate mental fatigue and stress and boosts mental activity (5).

All of this can be attributed to nutmeg’s ability to trigger neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which impact your mood.

11. Might Treat Urinary Incontinence

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Some reports suggest how nutmeg can treat urinary incontinence. But more research is warranted. We recommend you speak to your doctor before using nutmeg in this regard.

12. Helps Fight Acne

Nutmeg exhibits strong antibacterial and antifungal activities – and this can help treat acne. And then, there is the anti-inflammatory activity of the spice, which can heal inflammation and redness associated with acne.

You can prepare an acne mask by mixing one teaspoon each of nutmeg and honey (for its additional antibacterial properties). Apply the mixture gently to your face. Leave it on for 30 minutes, and wash off with cold water.

13. Can Aid Eczema Treatment

Though not scientifically proven to work, several individuals vouch for this method. You can combine one tablespoon of nutmeg with one teaspoon of olive oil. Mix well to form a thick paste, and apply it to the affected areas. Leave it on for about 20 minutes, post which you can wash the cream off with cold water.

Thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of nutmeg, yet again, it can be used as a potential treatment for eczema.

These are the benefits of nutmeg. We just had a glimpse into its essential nutrients, but there is more that you must know.

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What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Nutmeg?

PrincipleNutrient ValuePercentage of RDA
Energy525 Kcal26
Carbohydrates49.29 g38%
Protein5.84 g10%
Total Fat36.31 g180%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Dietary Fiber20.8 g55%
Vitamins
Folates76 µg19%
Niacin1.299 mg8%
Pyridoxine0.160 mg12%
Riboflavin0.057 mg4%
Thiamin0.346 mg29%
Vitamin-A102 IU3.5%
Vitamin C3 mg5%
Electrolytes
Sodium16 mg1%
Potassium350 mg7.5%
Minerals
Calcium184 mg18%
Copper1.027 mg114%
Iron3.04 mg38%
Magnesium183 mg46%
Manganese2.900 mg126%
Phosphorus213 mg30%
Zinc2.15 mg20%
Phyto-nutrients
Carotene-ß16 µg
Crypto-xanthin-ß90 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin0 µg

Nutmeg sure contains some powerful nutrients. But this doesn’t mean you can consume as much as of it as you want. Because it might lead to the following side effects.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Nutmeg?

  • Hallucinations And Other Mental Side Effects

Long-term use of nutmeg in doses higher than 120 mg per day can lead to hallucinations and other mental issues like dizziness and agitation. It can also lead to a high, often called ‘nutmeg high.’

  • Issues During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

Excess consumption can cause miscarriages or birth defects. Talking about breastfeeding, not much is known. Hence, avoid nutmeg in both the instances.

In rare cases, excess consumption of nutmeg can even lead to death.

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Conclusion

A popular spice used the world over, nutmeg sure has its share of benefits. And you saw what they are. So, why don’t you start including nutmeg in your diet right away? Also, tell us how this post has helped you. Just leave a comment in the box below.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What is a good substitute for nutmeg?

Mace is the closest substitute for nutmeg. Mace is nothing but the outer membrane of the nutmeg seed before it is harvested, which is why it has a similar flavor.

How to prepare nutmeg tea?

Add nutmeg powder to boiling water along with a piece of ginger. Allow to steep for 2 to 3 minutes. And your nutmeg tea is ready!

Can you smoke nutmeg?

Yes, but you don’t want to do that. Smoking nutmeg is dangerous.

References

1. “Modulation of colon cancer…”. US National Library of Medicine.
2. “Spices mixture containing…”. US National Library of Medicine.
3. “Nutmeg oil alleviates chronic inflammatory…”. US National Library of Medicine.
4. “Ethnobotany of nutmeg in the…”. US National Library of Medicine.
5. “Health and nutritional benefits of…”. Scientia Agriculturae.

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