An aromatic spice widely used in cooking, nutmeg, if taken in moderate doses, boasts numerous beneficial properties including digestive. Let’s find out all the benefits of nutmeg, how much to take and the contraindications if taken in high doses.
Nutmeg is a spice obtained from the peeled seed of an evergreen tree, called Mirstica fragrans, originally from Indonesia and which reaches 20 meters in height.
The Mirstica fragrans tree produces a fruit with an apricot -like appearance. This fruit inside contains an ovoid-shaped core and a net-shaped coating, called mace. From the drying of the mace, a spice with a more delicate flavor is obtained than nutmeg, while nutmeg is obtained from the dried kernel.
It is a very ancient spice, also used in Roman and Greek times and was considered aphrodisiac and also used as a drug, as its excessive consumption causes hallucinations. Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine have always used it for affections of the digestive and nervous system, while in Western countries it is used above all to flavor dishes.
Nutmeg: calories and nutritional values
Nutmeg is rich in minerals, vitamins and fiber. Its calorie content per 100 grams is very high (specifically 525 calories), but it is a very strong spice and therefore a pinch is enough to flavor your dishes, therefore the caloric impact is very low. Let’s now see the table with the nutritional values of nutmeg.
Nutritional values per 100g of nutmeg:
- Kilocalories: 525
- Proteins: 5.84 gr
- Fat: 36.31 gr
- Carbohydrates: 49.29 gr
- Fibers: 20.8 gr
- Soccer: 184 mg
- Magnesium: 3.04 mg
- Phosphorus: 213 mg
- Potassium: 350 mg
- Sodium: 16 mg
- Zinc: 2.15 mg
- Vitamin C or ascorbic acid: 3 mg
- Thiamine or vitamin B1: 0.346 mg
- Riboflavin or vitamin B2: 0.057 mg
- Niacin or vitamin B3: 1,299 mg
- Pyridoxine or vitamin B6: 0.16 mg
- Folate: 76 µg
- Vitamin A: 5 µg
Nutmeg: nutritional properties
Nutmeg has a good fiber and potassium content. Its stimulating effect on the central nervous system is mainly due to two substances, called myristicin and elemicin. Let’s see the properties of these components.
- Fibers: fibers are very useful for stimulating intestinal transit and the sense of satiety, therefore useful in case of constipation and during a low-calorie diet. In addition, they help reduce the absorption of cholesterol and sugars. In 100 grams of nutmeg there are about 20 grams of fiber, however it is not possible to benefit from this content because it is possible to consume small doses;
- Potassium: Potassium is a mineral found in nutmeg, in quantities of 350 mg per 100 grams. It is useful to stimulate diuresis and remove water retention, and consequently reduce blood pressure. Potassium also regulates heartbeat, acid-base balance and the mechanism of muscle contraction;
- Myristicin and elimycin: in 20 grams of nutmeg there are 210 mg of myristicin and 70 mg of elimycin. These are two psychoactive substances present in particular in nutmeg oil and are responsible for the hallucinogenic effect that causes excessive consumption of nutmeg.
Finally, inside the nutmeg there is also a small amount of eugenol, a compound that is characterized by having an antibacterial and pain-relieving effect used, for example, against toothache. This substance, however, is present in greater quantities in cloves and cinnamon.
Nutmeg: health benefits
Nutmeg, at the recommended doses, has several healthy properties for the body as it has an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and carminative action, but not only. Let’s now see all the properties of nutmeg.
✓ Helps against diarrhea
According to a study published in 2002, nutmeg extracts have a good antidiarrheal effect, decreasing the number of soft stools. Therefore, the consumption of nutmeg can prove to be a valid help against diarrhea.
✓ Has antibacterial properties
Thanks to the presence of eugenol, nutmeg has an antibacterial action. For this reason it is often added to toothpastes and mouthwashes, because it is useful against halitosis. In addition, it helps fight bacteria present in the body, especially in the intestine and skin.
✓ Stimulates digestion and relieves nausea
If taken after meals, perhaps added to an herbal tea, nutmeg stimulates the digestive process and prevents nausea due to a large meal. It also has a carminative action, so it helps to expel intestinal gas and reduce the phenomenon of a swollen belly.
✓ Nutmeg oil decreases chronic inflammatory pain
Nutmeg oil could be useful as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. This is what emerges from a study, in which the intake of nutmeg oil in rats in which inflammatory pain was induced, reduced joint swelling and chronic pain. For a similar effect in humans, further studies must be conducted, especially for the danger of nutmeg oil in inducing hallucinogenic effects.
✓ It is anti-inflammatory
Nutmeg oil can be added to creams and massage oils used for muscle and joint pain, thanks to the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effect of eugenol, a substance that, as we have seen, is also present in good quantities in cloves.
✓ Decreases colon cancer in laboratory animals
Scientific studies have shown how the administration of nutmeg in mice was able to decrease the levels of uremic toxins and tumorigenesis. Further studies need to be carried out to investigate this property of nutmeg on human subjects.
✓ Has aphrodisiac power
In ancient times, nutmeg was considered a powerful aphrodisiac. This effect was demonstrated in a study in which 500 mg of ethanolic nutmeg extract per kg was administered in male laboratory animals. There was an increase in both libido and sexual potency, perhaps due to the stimulating properties of nutmeg on the nervous system. This study therefore provides scientific rationale for the traditional use of this spice as an aphrodisiac.
Nutmeg: some usage tips
Nutmeg exists on the market both in lean and whole form, to be grated on the spot and therefore tastier. Widely used in Mediterranean cuisine, it is the main ingredient of many salty sauces, among which the bechamel certainly stands out, but it is also excellent for flavoring vegetables and soups.
To benefit from the digestive and anti-nausea properties, you can add 2 pinches of nutmeg to an herbal tea, perhaps based on fennel or anise seeds and drink after meals. In case of diarrhea, 2 pinches can be added to a glass of warm water.
To help digestion, it is also possible to create an oil for external use: dissolve 4 drops of nutmeg essential oil in a tablespoon of almond oil. With the oil obtained, the stomach must be massaged at least 2 times a day to facilitate digestion and remove bloating. The same procedure can be used to make an oil against muscle and joint pain.
Nutmeg: contraindications and potential negative effects
Nutmeg is not without contraindications which are good to know. Due to the presence of myristicin, in high doses it has a powerful hallucinogenic effect, and can cause stomach pain, fever, vomiting and palpitations. For this reason it is absolutely forbidden to abuse it. The maximum daily dose to be taken is 2 grams, spread in small doses. Furthermore, nutmeg is not recommended for those who take psychiatric drugs and pregnant women.