Nutmeg is a popular spice made from the seeds of Myristica fragrans, a tropical evergreen tree native to Indonesia. It can be found in whole-seed form but is most often sold as a ground spice. It has a warm, slightly nutty flavor and is often used in desserts and curries, as well as drinks like chai tea. Although it’s more commonly used for its flavor than its health benefits, nutmeg contains an impressive array of powerful compounds that may help prevent disease and promote your overall health.
- Contains powerful antioxidants
Nutmeg is rich in antioxidants, including phenolic compounds, essential oils, and plant pigments, all of which help prevent cellular damage and may protect against chronic diseases. Antioxidants are compounds that protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. These are molecules that have an unpaired electron, which makes them unstable and reactive. When free radical levels become too high in your body, oxidative stress occurs. It’s associated with the onset and progression of many chronic conditions, such as certain cancers and heart and neurodegenerative diseases
- Has anti-inflammatory properties
Chronic inflammation is linked to many adverse health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Nutmeg is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds called monoterpenes, including sabinene, terpineol, and pinene. These may help reduce inflammation in your body and benefit those with inflammatory conditions. Nutmeg may reduce inflammation by inhibiting certain inflammatory enzymes
- Has antibacterial properties
Nutmeg has been shown to have antibacterial effects against potentially harmful strains of bacteria. Nutmeg has also been found to inhibit the growth of harmful strains of E. coli bacteria, such as O157, which can cause severe illness and even death in humans
- May benefit heart health.
Animal studies show that taking high-dose nutmeg supplements reduced heart disease risk factors, such as high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels.
- Could boost mood.
studies have found that nutmeg extract induced significant antidepressant effects.
- May improve blood sugar control. A study showed that treatment with high-dose nutmeg extract significantly reduced blood sugar levels and enhanced pancreatic function
- May boost libido
Some animal studies show that nutmeg may enhance sex drive and performance. Researchers still aren’t sure exactly how the spice enhances libido. Some surmise these effects are due to its ability to stimulate the nervous system, along with its high content of powerful plant compounds
Though nutmeg is unlikely to cause harm when consumed in small quantities, taking it in high doses may cause adverse side effects. It contains the compounds myristicin and safrole. When ingested in large amounts, they can cause symptoms like hallucinations and loss of muscle coordination.
|Take away tip
Nutmeg is a spice found in many kitchens worldwide. Its warm, nutty flavor pairs well with many foods, making it a popular ingredient in sweet and savory dishes alike. Aside from its many culinary uses, nutmeg contains powerful anti-inflammatory plant compounds that act as antioxidants. These may improve mood, blood sugar control, and heart health, though more research is needed on these effects in humans. Be careful to enjoy this warming spice in small amounts, as large doses can cause serious side effects.
Q&A: What is the anti-inflammatory effect of nutmeg?
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