Mint is much more than just the flavor in your toothpaste and chewing gum. The amazing health benefits of mint are numerous. It helps with weight loss, stomach issues, headaches, and more! Read on and learn all about it.
What is mint?
Mint, or Mentha, is an aromatic, perennial herb. It is thought there are somewhere between 13 -24 different species of mint plant. The leaf colors range dark green, grey-green, purple, blue, and pale yellow. It’s very widely distributed and found in a lot of environments in the continents of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America. A thirsty plant that grows best in wet, moist soils. It gets anything from 4 – 48 inches tall and has the ability to spread very widely over an area. So well do they grow and spread in fact, that some mint species are considered invasive. When it flowers its flower is white to purple, and its fruit consists of a nutlet that contains 1 – 4 small seeds. Check out the video below to identify the most common varieties.
Nutritional values of mint
There are many different varieties of mint. For these nutritional tables, peppermint will be used. The values for other varieties of mint won’t be exactly the same but will be in and around these values.
*Note – The following is for 100g of fresh peppermint
|Folic acid||0.00 mcg|
|Niacin||1.706 mg||11 %|
|Pantothenic acid||0.338 mg||7 %|
|Riboflavin||0.266 mg||20 %|
|Thiamin||0.082 mg||7 %|
|Vitamin A||4248.00 IU||85 %|
|Vitamin A, RAE||212.00 mcg|
|Vitamin B12||0.00 mcg||0 %|
|Vitamin B6||0.129 mg||10 %|
|Vitamin C||31.8 mg||35 %|
|Vitamin D||0.00 mcg||0 %|
|Calcium, Ca||243.00 mg||19 %|
|Copper, Cu||0.329 mg||37 %|
|Iron, Fe||5.08 mg||28 %|
|Magnesium, Mg||80.00 mg||20 %|
|Manganese, Mn||1.176 mg||51 %|
|Phosphorus, P||73.00 mg||10 %|
|Potassium, K||569.00 mg||12 %|
|Sodium, Na||31.00 mg||1 %|
|Zinc, Zn||1.11 mg||10 %|
How to prepare and use mint
The best mint to use is the mint you grow yourself at home, and it’s easy enough to grow. This way you will always have the freshest leaves. Failing that however, if you are buying them pick only bright, undamaged leaves. They can be stored for around a week, in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.
It is best to prepare it by chopping with a very sharp knife, on a clean, smooth chopping board. Avoid chopping it with a blunt knife, or over-chopping with a sharp knife either. This will only bruise the leaves, and leave most of the flavor, and nutrients on the chopping board.
The freshly chopped mint leaves can be added to soups, stews, cuisines, salads, and anything that tickles your fancy really. When adding to cooked foods though, do so at the end of, or after the cooking process.
Making tea from the leaves is another great way of ingesting the health benefits of mint. You can use dried, or fresh leaves, although fresh leaves will probably have a higher nutritional content.
How to grow mint
Growing your own food is incredibly satisfying, and healthy. Luckily mint is fast-growing and will grow almost anywhere. All they need is plenty of water and sunlight. The handiest option is to grow your mint in pots, inside or out. I like to keep a pot on my kitchen window sill. Mint grows best from transplants, cuttings, or roots. Growing from seed is tricky, and tends to produce non-uniform plants.
Outside mint is good to go after the last frost of spring. Be careful if planting in your garden. Mint plants can quickly spread their roots, and take over. To keep them contained it’s best to plant them while still in their container. The container needs to be a minimum of 12 – 15 inches deep. Cut the bottom of the container out, and also keep an inch or so of the container above the ground. The cut-out sends the roots deep enough downward, and the above-ground guard stops any roots shooting over the top.
Harvest the leaves as you need them. If you decide to harvest the whole plant then leave at least 1 inch, so the plant can regrow.
List of health benefits of mint
Mint has a list of health benefits as long as your arm. However, as with anything, you should familiarize yourself with the potential risks of mint. It’s a small list, to be honest, but better safe than sorry!
- Helps with weight loss.
- Heals and soothes burns.
- Provides relief from headaches.
- Potential cancer therapeutic.
- Boosts brain and memory power.
- Relieves nausea and morning sickness.
- Boosts immune system.
- Helps with hay fever and asthma.
- Relieves indigestion.
- Helps with breastfeeding.
- Good for the common cold.
#1 Mint can help with weight loss
If you are currently trying to lose weight then you should consider mint in your diet. Mint aids in both digestion, and metabolism. These two things are absolutely key when trying to lose weight. It can be added to your diet in the form of an after-meal tea. Simply add leaves to boiling water, and leave for 5 mins or so.
- Mint and Digestion
One of the active compounds in mint, menthol, is known to boost your digestion. Mint will help keep your digestive system in tip-top shape. Important, as an unhealthy digestive system limits your body’s ability to efficiently absorb, and store vital nutrients from the food you eat. If your internal food processing plant isn’t operating at its best, then it certainly won’t help with your weight loss plan.
- Mint and Metabolism
You need your metabolism as fast as possible when trying to lose weight. Mint gets your digestive enzymes going, and as stated earlier it helps with absorbing and storing nutrients from your food. When your nutrition is in good shape, this keeps your metabolism in top order too.
For more info about losing weight check these articles about ‘getting fit and toned‘, and ‘how to lose back fat‘.
#2 Mint can heal and soothe burns
Here’s a great real-world health benefit of mint. It can be used to help heal, and soothe burns.
Mint juice, in the form of a really strong, and chilled mint tea, can be applied to any small burns. Use cotton pads, or similar to apply gently to any burned areas.
This remedy applies to sunburn too.
#3 Mint can provide relief from headaches
One of the health benefits of mint that nearly everyone will need at some point!
Rubbing mint balms, or mint oils on the forehead can help with alleviating tension-type headaches. The soothing mint aroma can lessen the inflammation that often comes with headaches.
In controlled studies, peppermint oil has been proven as significantly more effective than the placebo treatment. It was also shown to be comparable to paracetamol in terms of effectiveness.
So, next time you feel a headache coming on, give mint oil a try, before you reach for the paracetamol.
#4 Mint is potential cancer therapeutic
Research has shown the L-Menthol compound found in mint may have medicinal value as a cancer therapeutic.
A study revealed that L-Menthol was able to inhibit cancer cell proliferation via modulation of tubulin polymerization and apoptosis. In simpler terms, L-Menthol possesses the ability to stop the rapid reproduction of cancer cells. This was discovered by a group of researchers at CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP).
The international journal ‘OMICS: A Journal of Integrative Biology’ published the research.
#5 Mint may boost brain and memory power
Mint is good for your brain. It has the ability to boost cognitive performance and memory power. Who doesn’t want that!
In a randomized controlled trial, 144 participants were subjected to conditions of either peppermint aroma, ylang ylang aroma, or no aroma. The results of the trial showed that peppermint improved memory and increased alertness.
Good news for your brain then, and yet another of the incredible health benefits of mint.
#6 Mint can relieve nausea and morning sickness
The refreshing aroma of freshly crushed mint is another of the natural health benefits of mint. It offers a great remedy for nausea and morning sickness. Combine this with the positive effect mint has on stomach woes, and mint becomes a doubly effective natural remedy in treating nausea, and morning sickness.
A research study on 66 pregnant women confirmed these positive effects of mint on nausea. One group was given mint oil, while the other was given a sesame oil placebo. This was done twice a day, over the course of 1 week. The result was a significant decrease in the severity of nausea, and vomiting within the mint oil group.
So, next time you feel a little queasy, why not avail of a natural mint remedy.
#7 Mint boosts the immune system
Mint leaves are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that are highly beneficial for your body. Vitamins A, and C, along with calcium, and phosphorus are loved and required by your immune system. Luckily mint is full of this stuff.
So. give your immune system a nice little boost by incorporating the humble mint plant into your diet.
#8 Mint helps with hay fever and asthma
One of the many fantastic health benefits of mint is that it helps alleviate the symptoms of hay fever, and asthma. These thoughts are backed up in this extensive study.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound rosmarinic acid blocks allergy-creating compounds. Amazingly, mint leaves contain this allergy-blocking agent. This can help people suffering from asthma and allergies like hay fever.
So, if you have asthma, or suffer the summer sneezes, it may be worth trying some mint in your diet.
#9 Mint helps to relieve indigestion
This health benefit of mint is already well known to most. For centuries mint has been used to soothe all kinds of stomach upsets. Mint relieves indigestion by getting your digestive enzymes going, which helps the digestive process in a big way. These properties also make it great therapy for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) as proven in many multiple studies.
A soothing cup of mint tea is a great way to relieve that nasty feeling of indigestion and many other stomach issues.
#10 Mint helps with breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is great for your baby’s health, I honestly don’t think it could get a better start in life. However, it can be hell on a mother’s nipples, especially at the start. It can, and most likely will, cause the nipples to crack, dry out, bleed, and chafe, ouch!
Luckily another of the super health benefits of mint comes to the rescue again! Mint oil can help prevent all these things, provide soothing relief, ease the pain, and even help repair any damage done.
So, whether your thinking of breastfeeding or currently are, then go get some mint oil. Your nipples will thank you for it!
#11 Mint is good for the common cold
Mint is well known as a decongestant. You may be surprised to learn though, that it has no effect on actually clearing congestion, according to a study done on this subject.
In the blind randomized trial of 62 subjects with cold symptoms, some were given either a lozenge containing menthol, or a placebo lozenge. It was discovered that no actual reduction in congestion was discovered in any of the subjects. However, there was a subjective sensation of markedly increased nasal airflow observed in the menthol lozenge group. What that all means, (my interpretation) in simpler terms, is that mint gives you a noticeable feeling of clearer breathing.
I think anything that lifts that horrible feeling of congestion in your nose, and throat can only be good. I’m also a great believer in the power of a positive mind. And perhaps just feeling an improvement is enough to kick-start the actual process of getting better.
On a slightly different note, but still on the common cold theme, drink mint tea for a nice soothing effect on a sore throat.
Potential risks of taking mint
While there are many, many health benefits of mint, there are also a few risks to consider.
- Pure menthol is very poisonous when consumed, and should not be done so in any circumstances.
- If you have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), consuming mint will cause irritation to your body, and potentially worsen your condition. So, if you have GERD don’t use mint to treat your digestive problems.
- Gallstones and mint don’t mix well. Consuming mint may worsen your condition. Probably best to avoid mint if you have gallstones.
- Essential oils of mint are not suitable for use on children under 30 months. These oils are so strong they can actually cause children to stop breathing, or have seizures when applied topically. I recommend reading this article for more info about essential oils and the risks for children before you consider using them.
If you have any doubts or concerns about using mint you should consult with a healthcare professional. Everybody’s situation is unique. Your own healthcare professional will have a better understanding of your situation, and be better able to give more tailored advice.
I have always been a big believer that natural is best, where possible when it comes to health remedies. The many natural health benefits of mint only further my belief in this. It truly is an amazing plant. What’s even more amazing is how easy it will grow on your kitchen window sill. The amazing flavor and aroma it adds to your food will have you hooked in no time, and is just another reason you’ll want more of it.
I recommend highly growing this incredible plant in your kitchen, and use it more often in your cooking. Your health and your taste buds will thank you for it.
As always, leave a comment if you have any thoughts, advice, or opinions on this topic.
Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness, or exercise.
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