Natural Health

Sprinkling This Spice On Your Holiday Drinks Can Boost Your Mood, Sharpen Your Focus, and Deepen Your Sleep

Nothing makes festive drinks like eggnog and mulled wine tastier than dusting them with plenty of fresh-grated nutmeg. Even better? This yummy spice has three key health benefits to make the holiday season even brighter and merrier. Nutmeg can boost serotonin production to help your mood, your sleep, and your focus — read on to find out more, and for three great recipes that put this spice front and center!

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The Benefits of Nutmeg

Sharpens focus.

A cozy nutmeg warmer can help you stay focused on your to-do’s throughout the holidays, since the myristicin in the spice stimulates the brain’s concentration-enhancing frontal lobe. The effect is so powerful that researchers reporting in the Journal of Medicinal Food say you’ll feel more focused within two minutes of enjoying the spice.

Lifts mood.

Enjoying a nutmeg-packed sip can improve your mood as effectively as antidepressants, according to Duke University investigators. Thanks goes to compounds that energize nerve cells to produce the feel-good hormone serotonin — chasing away the blahs in as little as a minute!

Deepens sleep.

Just a quarter teaspoon of the warming spice contains enough of the compound myristicin to help you drift off to sleep 20 minutes faster. British researchers say that the compound prompts the brain to release soothing hormones that mimic the effect of Prozac.

To get the best of the spice, try these three recipes for drinks with nutmeg!

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

  • 1 cup hot cocoa mix
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 Tbs. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground nutmeg

In pot over medium heat, combine all ingredients. Cook five minuties, stirring. Serve. (Makes four servings.)

Hot Spiced Cranberry Cider

  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 lemon, sliced

Heat apple cider, cranberry juice, cinnamon sticks and nutmeg in pot over low heat. Cook 15 –20 minutes, stirring frequently. Ladle into mugs. Serve with lemon.(Makes 4 servings.)

Nutmeg Banana Blast

  • 3 bananas, sliced
  • 1⁄ 2 cup milk
  • 1 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Combine ingredients in blender with one cup ice cubes; puree until smooth. Serve in glasses; garnish with extra nutmeg. (Makes 4 servings.)

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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