Nutmeg is the seed of Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree. The tree gives two spices, mace and nutmeg. The fruit has a slightly sweet, warm and pungent fragrance and taste. It is immensely used as a flavouring agent in food and confectionary items. Nutmeg belongs to the family Myristicaceae or the family of flowering plants.
Freshly dried fruits of nutmegs are oval shaped, gray brown in colour and have many furrows on the surface. These fruits are roughly covered with crimson-red coloured aril or reddish seed covering called Mace. The mace has finer taste, as compared with nutmeg and is also used to flavour various dishes. Nutmeg and mace have the similar qualities; impart delicate sweet taste and saffron or orange-like hue to the dishes. Both are mostly available in grated or ground form.
The plant Myristica fragrans is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, southern India and Kerala.
Earlier it was used by the Romans as a fragrance in incense. The plant is nearly more than 15 meters in height, and the fruit resembles an apricot.
The crimson coloured mace contains 7-14% oils in which include dipentene, camphene and pinene as the main components.
Nutmeg consists of 45-60% of cellulose a solid material and 30-55% of the oils. It contains two types of oil, volatile oil and the fixed oil, later one is also known as nutmeg butter or mace oil. Oil has many applications including carminative, as a spice and to scent perfumes and soap.
The essential oil obtained from nutmeg is pale yellow in colour. Pinene and camphene are the major components of the oil. Other components of the oil are dipentene, borneol, linalool, geraniol, myristicin, eugenol and safrole. It also contains aromatic ethers, terpenes, monoterpenes alcohol, terpinic esters, acids and aromatic hydrocarbons. It also contains calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, and fibres.
Essential oils have been used widely as a flavouring agent, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.
Benefits of Nutmeg
- Improves Brain Health: Nutmeg assists in the regulation of monoamine oxidase enzyme, which plays a major role in various neurological and psychological illnesses such as anxiety, depression and stress, thus helps to calm the brain and heals related disorders. Macelignan present in mace and myristicin present in oils helps in cognitive related disorders and improves brain health.
- Heals Chronic Pain: It reduces the pain related to chronic inflammation, injuries and wound. Nutmeg is useful in various other pains in body such as, joint, abdomen and muscle pain.
- Improves Stomach Health: Nutmeg improves the secretion of digestive enzymes and is thus helpful in relieving diarrhoea, constipation and gas. The fibre content of nutmeg helps in relieving constipation and normalizing bowel movements. It provides relief from indigestion and other stomach-related ailments.
- Improves Kidney Functions: Nutmeg helps to restore kidney health by improving the functions of kidneys and detoxifying whole body.
- Improves Oral Health: Nutmeg is anti-bacterial in nature and thus helps to get rid of bad breath and prevent mouth odour. It also prevents onset and progression of bacterial infection.
- Promotes Sleep: It promotes sleep inducing chemicals that help in a sound sleep and relaxation.
- Reduces Cancer: Certain essential oils and methanol compounds present in nutmeg induce apoptosis or natural cell death in cancer cells. It thereby reduces the spread of cancer cells.
- Boosts Skin Health: Nutmeg boosts and restores skin health, reduces inflammation and irritation, hydrates the skin and provides a smooth appearance to the skin.
- Prevents Anaemia: Nutmeg is rich in minerals that regulate blood pressure, restores bone health. Nutmeg improves the iron content in the blood, thus also prevents anaemia.
- Improves Male Fertility: It also helps in male infertility and enhances libido and improves vigour and vitality.
- Improves Respiration: Nutmeg relaxes smooth muscles and reduces inflammation, which in turn helps in smooth functioning of the respiratory system. It helps making breathing easier.
Therapeutic value of nutmeg is responsible for its presence in Daily Boost Tea.