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Spice It Up! Boosting Your Health with Spices and Herbs (Part 3)
November 2, 2009
I enjoy cooking and baking, especially around the holidays. And this time of year is perfect for what I consider to be a “trifecta” of spices: cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. So, this week, we’ll take a closer look at nutmeg.
What is Nutmeg, Anyway?
What are the Health Benefits?
Nutmeg is also used in ayurvedic medicine for digestive problems, premature ejaculation, and urinary incontinence. Nutmeg oil is used in some medicines, dental products (it seems to help kill off bacteria in the mouth), and perfumes. As a supplement, nutmeg is available in capsule form, and it is also used in Chinese medicine.
Some words of warning: Ingesting too much nutmeg can be harmful. Nutmeg contains myristicin, also known as methoxy-safrole, a substance found in nutmeg oil. Myristicin has hallucinogenic properties, and may lead to nausea, vomiting, double vision, circulation problems, and psychoactive effects.
The amount of nutmeg that we typically use in cooking or baking is harmless. But ingesting more than two teaspoons of ground nutmeg (or roughly one nutmeg kernel) may cause some unpleasant side effects. Side effects often occur several hours after ingestion. Too much nutmeg can be fatal. Also, nutmeg may interact with antianxiety medications, such as diazepam (brand name Valium), ondansetron (Zofran), and buspirone (BuSpar).
Nutmeg and Diabetes
How Do You Use Nutmeg?
As with most ground spices, ground nutmeg loses its flavor over time. Always store nutmeg (ground or whole) in a tightly closed container, away from light. The great thing about nutmeg is that it can be used in savory dishes, such as:
And, of course, in sweet foods, such as:
You might also try a sprinkle of nutmeg on your morning coffee or latte, on eggnog, or in mulled wine, for example. And if you have trouble sleeping, a mug of warm milk with a pinch of nutmeg may help you relax. Remember that a little pinch goes a long way! In general, though, it’s probably wise not to use nutmeg for purposes other than flavoring your food.
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