Nutmeg nutrition facts
Fragrant rich nutmeg is one of the highly prized spices known since antiquity for its aromatic, aphrodisiac, and curative properties. Nutmegs are evergreen trees, native to the rain forest Indonesian Moluccas Island, also known as the Spice Islands.
Botanically, the plant belongs to Myristicaceae family and known as Myristica fragrans. Several species grown all over the world other than Myristica species, such as M. argentea, M. malabarica (Indian), and M. fatua, are rather similar to M. fragrans in appearance; however, they have less intense flavor and aroma.
The spice tree is a large evergreen plant that thrives well under tropical climates. A fully-grown tree reaches about 50-60 feet in height and is the source of nutmeg and mace, two valuable spices. The nutmeg fruit, in fact, is a drupe, about the size of an apricot, which when ripen splits up to reveal single centrally situated oval shaped hard kernel known as "nutmeg spice". The seed is closely enveloped by crimson-red colored lacy or thread like arils known as "mace". Both spices have similar warm, sweet aromatic flavor.
Nutmeg tree yields up to three times in a season. Once harvested from the tree, the outer coat or husk is removed. The aril, also known as "mace", is gently peeled off from the outer surface of the kernel, flattened into strips, dried, and sold either as whole strips or finely ground. The whole kernels are then sun-dried for several days to weeks, or sometimes, more rapidly over a hot drier machine until the whole nutmeg rattle inside the shell.
The shell is then broken and shriveled nutmeg kernel is taken out. Finally, nuts are dipped in limewater in order to prevent insect infestation and seed germination.
Health benefits of nutmeg and mace
Nutmeg spice as well as mace contains many plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.
The spicy nut contains fixed oil trimyristin and many essential volatile oils such as which gives sweet aromatic flavor to nutmeg like myristicin, elemicin, eugenol and safrole. The other volatile oils are pinene, camphene, dipentene, cineole, linalool, sabinene, safrole, terpeniol.
The active principles in nutmeg have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as anti-fungal, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, digestive, and carminative functions.
This prized spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.
It is also rich in many vital B-complex vitamins including vitamin C, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A and many flavonoid anti-oxidants like beta-carotene and cryptoxanthins that are essential for optimum health.
- Since ancient times nutmeg and its oil were being used in Chinese and Indian traditional medicines for illnesses related to the nervous and digestive systems. The compounds in this spice such as myristicin and elemicin have been found to have stimulant properties on brain.
- Nutmeg oil contains eugenol, which has been used in dentistry for toothache relief.
- The oil is also used as a local massage to reduce muscular pain and rheumatic pain of joints.
- Freshly prepared decoction with honey mix has been used to relief of nausea, gastritis, and indigestion ailments.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||36.31 g||180%|
|Dietary Fiber||20.8 g||55%|
|Vitamin C||3 mg||5%|
Selection and storage
In the stores, one can get whole nutmeg as well as its fine powder. Whenever possible buy whole nuts instead of powder form since often times it may adulterated with other inferior quality nutmeg verities. Choose well-sealed pack from the authentic brands from the reputable selling company, which includes date of package and expiry.
Once at home, store the whole nuts as well as grounded form in an airtight container and place cool, dark and dry place, where it can stay for several months.
Both nutmeg as well as mace is used in cooking recipes. Mace has delicate flavor and gives saffron color to the food items. Whole kernels generally preferred over powdered form since they possess more essential oils and thus give rich flavor and freshness to recipes. In general, completely dried kernels are either grated or milled just before being added at the last moment of cooking.
Here are some serving tips:
- Nutmeg and mace are being used in sauces, soups, and in confectionary.
- Aromatic mace spice is especially used as a colorant and flavoring agent in sweets, pie, cakes, donuts etc.
- The spice is also being used as one of the common ingredient in curry powder to marinate meat and vegetable dishes in many Asian countries.
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