By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 8 January 2010)
Nutmeg is high in antioxidants, which means that it may protect against cancer, heart disease, and stroke. This spice also kills harmful bacteria such as E. coli, and animal studies suggest that it may even act as an antidepressant, though it is unknown whether this spice has the same effect on people and more research is required to study this possible benefit.
Nutmeg is a wonderful addition to spicy baked goods, particularly those that contain fruits such as apples and bananas, or vegetables such as pumpkins and sweet potatoes. Cheesecakes, custard pies, soups, chicken, french toast, pancakes, muffins, and creamy pasta sauces can all be enhanced with nutmeg. In baked goods, pancakes, and french toast, nutmeg is often combined with cinnamon and sometimes ginger and cloves as well.
Caution is advised in the use of nutmeg – consuming just 1-2 ounces may cause toxicity and delirium. However, recipes call for very small amounts of nutmeg, so receiving a toxic dose is unlikely unless someone eats a heaping spoonful or more right from the spice jar.
For a full list of healthy herbs and spices and the reference list for this information series, see the main High-Antioxidant Herbs and Spices page.