What is nutmeg and what does matsis have to do with it?
Nutmeg is a popular seasoning derived from the seeds of Myristica fragrans, a tropical evergreen tree from Indonesia. It can be found both in the form of a powder (ground) and in the form of whole seed, which outwardly really looks very much like a nut, but in fact, it is not.
Inside, the egg-shaped nutmeg seed looks like a piece of wood with beautiful veins and patterns. Despite its external strength, it can be easily chopped with a knife or grater. However, there are not many who want to eat the whole nutmeg for lunch. And the point here is not even a sharp spicy taste, but that special effect that this product has on us if consumed in large quantities.
What will happen if you overeat nutmeg, we will tell below, and now we propose to be surprised at another interesting fact. Did you know that Muscat fruit actually gives us not one kind of spice, but two? It’s just that the second is less well-known.
Two spices of the nutmeg tree
Nutmeg and matsis are considered to be different types of spice with different properties. Although matsis is very similar in taste and aroma to nutmeg, it is less pungent and sweet.
Nutmeg is the same “nut” about 2 cm in size, which is used in cooking, perfumery, aromatherapy, tobacco, and alcohol production, as well as in medicine.
Matsis – a bright red mesh surrounding the seed of the nutmeg, is also known as “nutmeg”, although it has nothing to do with flowers. It is more valuable because it is always mined in smaller quantities. Also finds application in the kitchen and in perfumery.
What’s inside nutmeg: the chemical composition of the spice
Nutmeg has a very interesting and complex composition: it contains both valuable vitamins with minerals and complex chemical compounds with ambiguous effects.
Micro- and macroelements in the composition of nutmeg:
- calcium – 184 mg,
- iron – 3 mg,
- magnesium – 183 mg,
- phosphorus – 213 mg,
- potassium – 350 mg,
- sodium – 16 mg,
- zinc – 2.15 mg,
- copper – 1.03 mg,
- manganese – 2.9 mg
- selenium – 1.6 mcg,
- choline – 8.8 mg.
Vitamins in nutmeg:
- vitamin A – 5 mcg,
- vitamin C – 3 mg,
- vitamin B1 (thiamine) – 0.346 mg,
- vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.057 mg,
- vitamin B3 (niacin) – 1.3 mg,
- vitamin B6 – 0.2 mg,
- vitamin B9 (folic acid) – 76 mcg.
- elemicin – 0.35%,
- myristicin – 1.05%,
- safrole – 0.195%.
It is these last three substances that make nutmeg a controversial product. Elemicin and myristicin are aromatic plant compounds that can cause hallucinogenic effects, while safrole is toxic in high doses. This is why nutmeg must be used exclusively for aromatic purposes and at the correct dosage.
Nutmeg nutritional value
Nutmeg is a very high-calorie spice. If it could be consumed in large quantities, we could easily satisfy our hunger in the same way as we do it with cashews, almonds, or hazelnuts.
Caloric Content: 525 kcal.
- Proteins: 6 g.
- Fat: 36 g.
- Carbohydrates: 49 g.
- Fiber: 21 g.
However, it makes little sense to take into account the nutritional value of this spice: we still add it in very small quantities, not noticeable for our calorie calculator.
From culinary to medicine: uses for nutmeg
Excessive consumption of nutmeg is quite dangerous, but if used wisely, it turns into useful and valuable food.
In the kitchen, nutmeg is indispensable if you need to give a dish a spicy taste with a slight pungency, characteristic only of this seasoning. It is considered a traditional baking ingredient in many European countries, and in Asia, it forms the basis of many hearty dishes. Culinary experts from all over the world put it in soups, stews, and side dishes. Nutmeg goes well with all types of meat, mushrooms, and starchy vegetables (potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes). It can be found in marinades and sauces, as well as in various drinks, from compote to mulled wine.
Try adding nutmeg to coffee, hot chocolate, milk tea, or cocoa. The spice goes well with fresh fruit, oatmeal, and yogurt.
Essential oils derived from nutmeg are considered a valuable ingredient in perfumery. Their volatile fractions contain dozens of aromatic substances, opening up a wide field for creative experiments with interesting scents.
If in perfumery the aroma of nutmeg is used to create compositions, then in aromatherapy it is valued for its healing component. It is believed that the smell of nutmeg helps us calm down, relieves nervous tension, and relaxes. It is also suitable for meditation.
Since ancient times, nutmeg has been used for medicinal purposes. It was customary for many peoples to give medicines containing nutmeg to people suffering from diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. It has also been used as a sedative and warming agent.
Health benefits and harms of nutmeg
The rich chemical composition of nutmeg makes it both a very useful and rather unsafe product. However, if you use it in moderation (like most spices), you can avoid unpleasant side effects, naturally strengthening your health.
How to cheer up and improve sexual energy with nutmeg?
Today, there are several scientifically proven benefits of eating nutmeg.
Nutmeg contains a variety of antioxidants, including plant phenylpropanoids and terpenes, protocatechuic, ferulic, and caffeic acids. Together, they help prevent cell damage, which means they can protect against chronic disease and premature aging.
Nutmeg is rich in compounds called monoterpenes. Their beauty for us is that they can help reduce inflammation in the body and relieve the symptoms of many diseases associated with this phenomenon. The antioxidants of nutmeg (cyanidin and phenolic compounds) also have an anti-inflammatory effect.
In the countries of Southeast Asia, nutmeg has long been considered an aphrodisiac and an assistant in the treatment of sexual dysfunctions. Official medicine confirms this, but it should be borne in mind that scientists do not yet have enough data with research among people.
Several studies show that eating nutmeg can help fight disease-causing bacteria, including E. coli.
And in alternative medicine, nutmeg has always been considered a reliable remedy for the treatment of toothache, nervous disorders, problems with digestion, and potency. Adding it in small proportions to their medicines, in ancient times, healers used nutmeg to cleanse the body, warm it up in cold weather, and … as an antidepressant!
How much nutmeg can you eat to avoid catching a “bad trip”?
Despite its many beneficial properties, nutmeg is not the kind of spice that you should get carried away with, using it without measure. This is due to the fact that it contains two difficult compounds – myristicin and safrole, which in high doses can cause impaired coordination and hallucinogenic effects. In addition to altered consciousness, you may experience symptoms of poisoning such as increased heart rate, nausea, disorientation, vomiting, and agitation.
A dose of no more than 3 grams per day is considered safe!
Nutmeg for kids
In a child, an overdose can occur from a much lower dose. As a culinary additive, this spice will not harm, since it is always used in scanty quantities, but you should not leave a whole nut or a pack of ground seasoning in a conspicuous place: unfortunately, there are cases when small children out of curiosity ate much more than they should and got serious poisoning.
Nutmeg for pregnant and lactating women
Pregnant women should be wary of eating nutmeg. In ancient times, large doses of this spice were used as an abortifacient. However, it is important to remember that, as in the case of childhood, nutmeg can only be dangerous when the norm of its use is significantly exceeded. In normal (aromatic) amounts, it is harmless.
How to properly add nutmeg to drinks and meals?
Nutmeg can be added to a wide variety of foods and drinks to enhance their flavor and aroma, adding new spicy notes. Ideally, it is better to use the whole seed for this, rubbing it on a grater in a small amount – just as much as is required at one time.
- In meat and fish dishes, as well as soups, nutmeg should be added at the end so that it gives only aroma, but not bitterness.
- If you are making coffee in a Turk, put a pinch of the spice along with the ground beans and other spices at the very beginning, before pouring the water.
- To enrich the flavor of baked goods, nutmeg should be added along with other seasonings to the dough itself during the kneading step. However, you can sprinkle the spice mixture on the pastry just before baking.
Where is nutmeg oil used?
Two types of oil are made from nutmeg and are used all over the world.
Nutmeg oil is obtained from the same nutmeg seeds by direct extraction. In unrefined form, it has a reddish-brown color, and its taste and smell are very similar to the aroma of the spice itself. In cooking, salads are seasoned with nutmeg oil, sauces are prepared with it, it is mixed with other types of vegetable oils.
Nutmeg essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of ground nutmeg seed. It is usually colorless or light yellow, does not contain particles that can be seen in food or cosmetics, and has the smell and taste of nutmeg. Essential oil of nutmeg is used in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industry, is in demand among masters of aromatherapy, is used as a natural food flavoring agent in cooking (baked goods, syrups, drinks, sweets), is used in the production of toothpaste and cough syrups.
How to choose and store nutmeg correctly?
When choosing between ground nutmeg and whole nuts, choose whole nuts whenever possible. In unmilled form, this spice can be stored for a very long time without losing its taste and aromatic properties. Ground nutmeg must be kept strictly in an airtight container, away from light sources and moisture.
How did nutmeg come to our table?
Historians tend to believe that as early as 1500 BC, nutmeg was an integral part of the diet of the inhabitants of the Indonesian archipelago. From there, this spice and the plant itself gradually spread throughout the world. The beginning of this process was laid roughly in the 6th century: first, Muscat seeds reached India, then they got to Constantinople (today’s Istanbul), and from there – to Europe. However, for a long time, the origin of the spice remained a secret for all buyers outside Asia.
This secret remained until the 13th century until it was revealed by Arab merchants. And the Europeans did not know anything about the origin of nutmeg until the beginning of the 16th century. But when they finally got to the Indonesian islands of Banda, which at that time were the only source of outlandish goods, they fully gave free rein to their greed.
In no time, the East India Company destroyed almost all of the local population and asserted its monopoly on growing and harvesting nutmeg. Over time, the seedlings of the plant spread to other southern countries, and today, along with Indonesia, India and Guatemala are also the largest producers of nutmeg.