Nutmeg is the underground ground or seed spice of many species of the family Myristica. Myristica fragrans is a medium-sized evergreen shrub cultivated primarily for two culinary spices derived from the fleshy flesh of its fruit: nutmeg, from the ground spice, and mace, in which the ground spice is used as a topping for many foods. It’s also a commercially mined source of a powerful fragrance oil and nutmeg paste. It’s a spice that pairs well with many foods and drinks.
This spice isn’t actually a spice at all, even though it has a distinctive nutmeg flavor. The true nutmeg spice is the cinnamomum zeylanicum or the “earthy” variety of nutmeg and not the ground variety. Earthy flavors generally aren’t pleasant, but nutmeg adds just the right hint of spicy to foods that might otherwise be bland. If you use the nutmeg grater to grate nutmeg into your food, you can intensify its flavor several times and really get the most out of it. This article contains several ways to make use of that grater.
Indonesian spices and their products: One of Indonesia’s most popular selling points is its exotic spices and products. From Indonesia’s tropical and subtropical forests, these natural treasures come in a wide variety of fruit, flower, bark, root products. Some are more common than others. For example, nutmeg and cloves rank high on lists of Indonesian spices and products that are grown and sold throughout the country.
For years, nutmeg has been popular for the unique flavor it lends to foods and drinks, including the classic English tea. Modern research has shown that nutmeg spice contains antioxidants that can help prevent cell damage and protect against certain cancers. Nutmeg extract also has essential oils that are said to improve blood flow and stimulate the circulatory system. However, nutmeg has other healing powers in some Asian cultures, especially those that practice Ayurveda, a traditional medicine system based on traditional plant and animal remedies. For example, the ancient Persians believed that the spice added to chestnut oil kept the wearer warm while he slept.
As for nutmeg’s purported cholesterol lowering capabilities, recent studies have shown that nutmeg does lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, but doesn’t significantly change HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Some studies have shown that nutmeg may reduce blood sugar levels, but results were not entirely consistent. Most agree that more research is needed to validate these claims.
Other uses: Nutmeg has been widely used in flavorings and aroma therapy for hundreds of years. In the US, it’s often added to teas and other drinks. Some people use it to flavor food, although there’s no sound scientific evidence that it has any health benefits in this setting. The flavor people most prefer is the hot spicy variety. It’s important to use high quality ingredients when using nutmeg in this way.
Antioxidants: Several studies have looked at nutmeg extracts and their ability to fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals can cause a variety of health problems including cancer. Antioxidants can protect against free radical formation, which in turn protects against the development of cancerous cells. Some studies have found moderate, beneficial effects on blood pressure levels.
However, one nutmeg-related study suggests that myristicin, a compound in nutmeg that seems to be beneficial, may be the main source of its antioxidant effect. This substance is also known as carotenoid and was one of the compounds that gave nutmeg its Mediterranean name. Another substance, ergosterol, is thought to work similarly, although it is not contained in nutmeg. As with other antioxidants, myristicin and ergosterol seem to have some independent properties and fewer studies have looked at their interactions together.