Nutmeg is a popular spice that can be found in whole seed form but is often sold as a ground spice. It has a warm, slightly nutty flavour and is often used in desserts, curries, as well as drinks like tea and mulled wine. Nutmeg butter and essential oil are also widely available. Here are the health benefits of nutmeg.
Nutmeg is highly nutritious with a wide range of nutrients including dietary fibre, copper, phosphorus, zinc, iron, folic acid, folate, magnesium, manganese, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, and beta-carotene. It also has vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and other antioxidants.
Rich in antioxidants
Nutmeg is rich in antioxidants which are compounds that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. When the levels of free radicals in the body are too high, oxidative stress occurs. Oxidative stress is linked to the onset and progression of many chronic conditions including cancer, heart, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Anti-inflammatory and pain-killing properties
Nutmeg is a natural analgesic which means it has pain-relieving properties. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is linked to a variety of adverse health conditions including, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Nutmeg reduces inflammation by inhibiting enzymes that promote it.
May boost libido
Animal studies show that nutmeg may enhance sex drive and performance though scientists still don’t know how or why. One of the reasons advanced for it is likely due to its ability to stimulate the nervous system. In South Asia, nutmeg has been used in traditional medicine to treat sexual disorders.
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May boost mood
Nutmeg is a natural mood-booster and may induce feelings of joy and positivity, helping to fight mood dysfunctions like depression. One study found that it acted as a potential anti-depressant in male rats. The spice has also long been used for its invigorating properties in folk medicine, but human studies still trail behind. It is also anecdotally known to aid in sleep both in duration and quality.
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Has antibacterial properties
Nutmeg has antibacterial properties that have been proven to be effective against oral pathogens that cause disease and bad breath. The essential oil has presented strong activity against bacteria and fungi. One study found it powerful against bacteria known to cause cavities and gum inflammation. It is also effective in inhibiting the growth of harmful strains of E. coli bacteria which causes severe illness and death.
May benefit heart health
The antioxidants in the spice protect against serious conditions including cancer, heart disease, and liver disease. Animal studies show that taking a high dose of nutmeg supplements reduced heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol. More research is needed though.
May improve blood sugar control
Studies show that nutmeg extract stimulates pancreatic activity and insulin release, significantly decreasing blood glucose and lipid profiles in diabetics. One animal study found that treatment with a high dose of the spice significantly reduced blood sugar levels and enhanced pancreatic function.
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