An Aromatic Spice that HEALS as Well as Flavors!

I'm talking nutmeg. What would my spinach soufflé be without a dash of this amazing spice? So-so, that's what. But beyond the flavor punch nutmeg provides, consider these eight health benefits from using freshly ground nutmeg or nutmeg essential oil. I thank one of my favorite sites, Care2, for this round-up of information:

Nutmeg aids sleep. When we were children, our grandmother would give us a glass of milk with a pinch of powdered nutmeg. "It will help you sleep better," she would say. And it did.

Yes, a dusting of nutmeg adds aroma and enhances the taste of food. But it also gives you trace minerals that keep the immune system strong. Potassium, calcium, iron and manganese are among key minerals found in nutmeg.

Just a little nutmeg, ground and mixed with water or honey into a paste, can make skin look clearer and brighter within a few days, reducing scars and alleviating acne. You can also add nutmeg to your face scrub for the same benefits. [Me: I had NO idea, but I'll be trying this pronto!]

For centuries, nutmeg has been used as a medicinal spice that brings relief from digestive problems. So grate a little nutmeg into your soups and stews for more than a boost of flavor-go for a healthy gut!

The star spice in dental care has traditionally been clove. But nutmeg, too, has proven antibacterial properties that protect the teeth and gums. Nutmeg oil has eugenol, which brings relief from toothache. That's why you often find it listed among the ingredients of toothpaste. Combined with cinnamon, it makes a powerful antiseptic, antimicrobial paste.

Nutmeg keeps the brain sharp! It contains a natural organic compound called myristicin, which is known to shield your brain against degenerative disease such as Alzheimer's.

The essential oil of nutmeg brings relief from muscular and joint pain. Apply it to a localized area of swelling and discomfort, and feel the pain melt away.

Research shows that nutmeg can rev up blood circulation, is good for treat kidney infections, and can strengthen the liver.

Now let's move from the benefits of nutmeg to the mechanics of using nutmeg. It goes without saying that store-bought, pre-ground nutmeg won't be as potent or as tasty, right? So the idea is to buy whole nutmeg and grate your own (just enough to use when needed because it doesn't retain its potency if kept grated over an extended period).

And of course you'll want a reliable micro-grater for the job. Here's a handy one that stores the whole nutmegs inside it. I also use my grater for whole cinnamon sticks, so I'm not crazy about the idea of always having to empty the grater before using it.

This is the grater I use. I love that I can cover the grater with this little lid, which keeps it sharp and sanitary. It's small enough to easily tuck into my baking utensils drawer but big enough to get the job done effectively.

You can see from this assortment of antique nutmeg graters that use practice of using freshly grated nutmeg has been around a long time, and for good reason. Combine all the health benefits with wonderful taste and aroma, and this is a spice you don't want to live without, and grating your own is well worth the effort!

(A note of caution: It is almost impossible to overuse nutmeg, because all you need is a tiny dusting of it to reap its taste and nutrition benefits. Even so, it should be mentioned that overuse of nutmeg is known to cause palpitations, sweating, hallucinations and other discomforts, so do use this wonder spice in moderation.)


    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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