Welcome to yet another episode of the Quali-tea series. Mint is a popular ingredient in several foods and beverages, ranging from teas and alcoholic drinks to sauces, salads and desserts. Using fresh mint and other herbs and spices in cooking can help a person add flavor while reducing their sodium and sugar intake. Throughout history, people have used different species of mint plants in medicine. Different types of mint plants offer a range of antioxidant qualities and potential health benefits, especially for people who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
This one is actually one of our favorite herbs in the Waku blend. Not only does it help boost the flavor and benefits of the other herbs, it also gives our tea the freshness it needs to be the perfect herbal tea for either a hot summer day or to drink on a warm autumn night. Take a look at this fun facts, benefits and uses of Mint.
What is it?
Mint is a leafy plant that's perhaps best known for its association with fresh breath due to the cool sensation it creates in the mouth. Toothpaste, mouthwash, breath mints, and chewing gum are all commonly flavored with mint.
There are many varieties of the mint plant, and most fall under the genus Mentha. Because mint plants spread quickly, gardeners tend to grow them in containers. When planted directly into the ground, they can become invasive and take over a garden. Mint grows natively on all continents except Antarctica. Peppermint and spearmint are likely the most commonly used mint varieties, but many others exist, such as wild mint and water mint. All varieties of mint leaves may be used fresh, in dried herb form, brewed as a tea, or concentrated in an essential oil.
What are its benefits and nutritional facts?
While not typically consumed in large quantities, mint does contain a fair amount of nutrients. This plant is a particularly good source of vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that is critical for eye health and night vision. It is also a potent source of antioxidants, especially when compared to other herbs and spices. Antioxidants help protect your body from oxidative stress, a type of damage to cells caused by free radicals.Mint has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments for many years. Unfortunately, there aren't many human studies documenting the impact mint has on the body apart from digestion support and irritable bowel syndrome relief. With time, research could confirm that mint is useful in treating a wider variety of illnesses:
Brain Health: Consuming mint might promote brain health. One study found mint extracts have potential to treat Alzheimer's symptoms, although more research is needed. Another study found that smelling peppermint could enhance memory and increase alertness, although it's unknown if ingesting it has similar effects.
Digestive Health: When it comes to medicinal uses, mint is perhaps most popularly known as a remedy for digestive problems. Taking peppermint oil reduces abdominal pain and helps treat irritable bowel syndrome without producing side effects. Peppermint oil contains a compound called menthol, which is thought to help alleviate IBS symptoms through its relaxing effects on the muscles of the digestive tract. A review of nine studies including over 700 patients with IBS found that taking peppermint oil capsules improved IBS symptoms significantly more than placebo capsules.
May Help Relieve Indigestion: Mint may also be effective at relieving other digestive problems such as upset stomach and indigestion. Indigestion may occur when food sits in the stomach for too long before passing into the rest of the digestive tract. Multiple studies have shown that food passes through the stomach quicker when people take peppermint oil with meals, which could relieve symptoms from this type of indigestion.
How is it used or how could it be prepared?
Mint leaves are a tender herb with gentle stems. It is best to add them raw or at the end of the cooking process. This helps them maintain their delicate flavor and texture. When buying mint, look for bright, unblemished leaves. Store them in a reusable plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Mint is relatively easy to grow, and people can cultivate it at home, making it a sustainable way to add flavor to meals. When preparing mint, use a sharp knife and cut gently. Using a dull knife or over-chopping will bruise the herb and lead to a loss of flavor on the cutting board surface.
Mint leaves are useful for more than fresh breath. Add variety to your food and beverages by incorporating mint into these recipes:
- - Chocolate cake
- - Lemonade
- - Zucchini or squash soup
- - Lettuce salad
- - Bean salad
- - Lamb dishes
- - Chicken dishes
- - Vegetables side dishes, such as peas
- - Pork chops
Mint is safe for most people and consuming it doesn't typically cause side effects. Allergies to mint are uncommon. In people who are allergic to mint, an interaction with the herb can trigger asthma symptoms. For this reason, people who are allergic to mint should avoid it completely. People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should not use mint in an attempt to soothe digestive issues. According to a 2019 reviewTrusted Source, mint commonly acts as a trigger for GERD symptoms.
Taking peppermint oil in large doses can be toxicTrusted Source. It is essential to stick to the recommended doses of peppermint oil. Pure menthol is poisonous and not for internal consumption. People should only ever apply it to the skin or a nearby surface, such as a pillow, to disperse fumes. Do not apply mint oil to the face of an infant or small child, as it may cause spasms that inhibit breathing. Speak with your healthcare provider to determine whether any of your medications could interact with mint or mint oil.