Nutmeg is a very popular spice made usually from the nutmeg tree, native to Indonesia. It is a very popular evergreen tree and the spice is made from its seeds. This tree is mainly grown in the Spice islands of Indonesia and in the West Indies. It is one of the most prominent evergreen trees from which people used to make spices in the comfort of their homes by plucking its seed and grinding them into fine powders. The evergreen tree ‘Nutmeg’ is the source of not only Nutmeg spice but also another spice known as ‘Mace’. The spice that is made from the inner seed is known as Nutmeg while ‘Mace’ is another form of spice made from the outer layer covering the seed which is red in color. Nutmeg spice is mostly found during the autumn time as this tree produces its seeds during this season of the year. Nutmeg spice is basically used in various kinds of desserts and beverages. It has a nice aroma and also a very sweet taste which attaches a good flavor to anything made out of this spice. It is mostly used in making different kinds of sausages, puddings, meat, vegetables, sauces, and many more. This spice is popularly used in Indonesia whenever they cook any of the above-mentioned dishes as it is one of the key ingredients that they use. It can also be used for commercial purposes like oils and butter. People often use this spice in their daily cooking recipes as it adds a mild sweet flavor that enhances the taste of the food item.
Health Benefits of Nutmeg
Nutmeg is a very popular Indonesian spice that is made from the seed of a nutmeg tree. It is sold both in the form of seed and spice and also it has multiple health benefits.
Rich in Antioxidants
Nutmeg in spite of being very small in size has a lot of plant compounds which makes it quite rich in antioxidants and that in turn is very beneficial for the human body. Antioxidants basically protect the human body from some outside enemies or viruses which if attacked the body can cause a number of diseases like cancers or heart attacks. Therefore, antioxidants play a major role in preventing these viruses to conquer the human body and take control of it.
Inflammation is one of the common problems that most people face in today’s world. However, if anyone is suffering from chronic inflammation that it can lead to many severe diseases like heart problems, diabetes, and arthritis. So, in order to get rid of the problem of inflammation one can consume nutmeg as it is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds which can help the body by producing some useful enzymes. These enzymes will prevent the body from any sort of inflammation that might happen from any outside radicals.
Nutmeg can boost libido
Nutmeg has also the power to improve one’s sex drive. It can help in boosting one’s nervous system which in turn helps in the overall sexual drives of the body as nutmeg is very rich in plant compounds as we already read before. So, anyone facing problems in their sexual life can include nutmeg in their daily diet.
Free from Bacteria
The nutmeg spice as well as the seed can help one to stay away from bacterial properties that can harm your body which in turn will give rise to many diseases like asthma, heart problems, lung disease, etc. Some bacteria like Streptococcus mutans and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans can cause cavities in the teeth as well as gum disease. So, consuming nutmeg can help one to keep away from these bacteria to a great extent.
Useful for other health problems
Consuming nutmeg dose daily can help in reducing certain heart disease risk factors like it can lower the cholesterol level and fats from the body which can keep one healthy and fit. Nutmeg, on the other hand, can also help in changing one mood from sadness to happiness and helping them to stay positive all the time. It can also help in lowering the blood sugar level to a great extent which will keep one energetic and away from dizziness and stress.
Resourceful and flavorful
Nutmeg is one of the very popular spices that can be found in the kitchen. It is generally used to make a variety of dishes mostly desserts and non-vegetarian foods. It has a very sweet flavor and can be used in baking cakes, cookies, puddings, sausages, sauces, bread, salads, and custards. Nutmeg powder can also be sprinkled on roasted vegetables like potatoes, squash, and pumpkin to add a strong flavor to it. If we talk about beverages then they can be widely used in smoothies, shakes, tea, hot chocolate, etc. Nutmeg is therefore very useful not only for health but also it can be used in food items.
Nutmeg Vs Mace
Nutmeg and Mace come from the same evergreen tree Nutmeg but they have some differences in them. The mace is generally made from the outer covering of the nutmeg and the spice is red in color. The spice nutmeg has a very flavorful taste which is sweet and mouth-watering wherever, mace is a little bit spicier than nutmeg and is a combination of cinnamon and black pepper. Both these spices are not used together in one food when cooked as they both have completely different tastes and flavors.
Whole Vs Ground Nutmeg
Nutmeg can be bought from the market both in the form of whole seed or grounded powder to be used only as a spice in cooking. The difference is that buying a whole seed and then grating it before cooking can add a fresh and clean taste to the food rather than buying a grounded nutmeg powder. Nutmeg seed on the other hand can be stored for a longer period of time than nutmeg powder as it is refined and processed in factories.
Side effects of Nutmeg
As we all know now Nutmeg has multiple health benefits as well as can be used as a flavorful spice in cooking desserts and vegetables. But it can also have some possible side effects which may harm the body to a certain extent.
Overconsumption is not good
Nutmeg can be used occasionally in the preparation of sweet items like puddings, cakes, smoothies, shakes, etc. but one should not make use of it regularly in every food item that they make because overconsumption of nutmeg powder can lead to nausea, vomiting, and also one can even hallucinate in some rare cases. So, one should take care of it and not use it on daily basis.
Nutmeg can be toxic to people suffering from acute nervous system problems or high inflammation. People with such diseases should avoid the daily consumption of nutmeg and can eat it occasionally with some food if prepared well.
Multiple health problems
Consuming larger doses of Nutmeg can cause serious health problems like nausea, vomiting, dizziness, irregular heartbeats, dry mouth, and hallucinations. In rare cases, death can also be seen. So, consuming more than the minimum requirement can be highly infectious to health and can lead to numerous health problems which can be deadly sometimes.
Substitutes of Nutmeg
Nutmeg is a very popular spice used in most desserts and beverages but one can also make use of other known spices instead of Nutmeg.
Mace can be one of the perfect replacements for Nutmeg as both spices belong to the same evergreen tree. While nutmeg comes from the seed of the tree and the mace is prepared from the outer covering of the seed. So, mace can definitely be used instead of nutmeg during cooking.
Garam masala is one of the most popular spice blends of cinnamon, clove, coriander seeds, mace, and nutmeg so, it can be regarded as the most perfect alternative which is widely used in many Indian and south Asian dishes.
Cinnamon can also be used instead of nutmeg as it is one of the most popular spices to be found in all Indian homes and also it can be easily purchased from any shops or online markets. Most of the time cinnamon can be used also as a spice in cooking instead of nutmeg. As it has a very strong flavor so only little quantity should be used.
Ginger is one of the most common items that is used in cooking but it cannot be used in dishes like desserts and beverages. It is mostly used in savory dishes like meat, fish, or food cooked with vegetables only. It can be used instead of nutmeg in the above dishes although it does not have that sweet flavor like nutmeg and is a little bit spicier.
Cloves also originated from Indonesia and can be used instead of Nutmeg or sometimes both cloves and nutmeg can be used. Cloves basically taste like pepper and if used together with nutmeg in any food item then it should be used in a well-balanced manner otherwise it can change the taste of the food that may not be as flavorful as it should be.
Nutmeg is therefore a highly used spice not only in Indonesia but also in other parts of the world. It can add a very mouth-watering taste to the food but at the same time if not used in a balanced manner can make the food bitter and tasteless.
Shramana Sarma Roy
(Content writer Intern)