Jan 26, 2013

Mint The Powerful Antioxidant

Mint is known to have originated in the Mediterranean region. Many cultures used mint as a symbol of hospitality and it was offered as a sign of welcome to house guests. In ancient Greece, mint leaves were rubbed onto a table, which signified a warm greeting. In the Middle East, mint tea is still served today to guests when they arrive.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used mint as a perfume and a bath scent as well as using it in medicine and in cooking. Ancient temples and synagogues often hung mint leaves as an air freshener to help rid the smell of unpleasant odors.

Nutritional Benefits

Mint contains many vitamin and minerals that are vital to maintain a healthy body and is a powerful antioxidant. This fresh herb is rich in: vitamin A, C, B12, thiamine, folic acid and riboflavin. Essential minerals that mint has include: manganese, copper, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, fluoride and selenium.

This herb is bombarded with vitamins and nutrients that has innumerable health benefits. Folic acid is important for women as this is related to optimal hormonal functioning. Mood swings can be directly related to folic acid deficiency.

Medicinal Benefits

Mint has been used for centuries to aid digestion and relieve indigestion. The chemical compound menthol is derived from peppermint oil and is well-known for its healing properties on the chest and respiratory system. In many proven cases mint is known to:
  • Protect the body against the formation of cancerous cells.
  • Inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungus.
  • Relieve symptoms of indigestion, heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome as it relaxes the muscles in and around the intestine.
  • Combat bad breath.
  • Cleanse the blood.
  • Clear up acne.
  • Relieve congestion, head colds and headaches.
  • Ease and unblock the breathing and respiratory passages.
Growing Mint

Mint is a perennial and grows easy is many climatic growing zones. Once this tenacious herb flourishes in the garden it will require continuous cutting back as it will grow everywhere and can inhibit the growth of other herbs or plants. Frequent cutting back guarantees a constant supply of fresh mint in the kitchen. Mint needs humid soil and only moderate sunshine. In late autumn, cut back the herb to the ground and mulch if the winter is severe. If growing mint is not an option, most grocery stores carry fresh mint in their produce sections.

Cooking with Mint

Herbal teas have been proven to be healthy, especially mint tea. Making mint herbal tea is easy: cut up three or four fresh leaves into small pieces and add boiled water. Let steep for five minutes and enjoy. To reduce the effects of caffeine in other teas, use fresh mint, spearmint or peppermint sprigs in the teapot. Steep for two or three minutes, longer if a stronger flavor is desired.

Add chopped mint leaves to scrambled eggs and omelets. Be sure to add the mint toward the end of cooking the eggs because too much heat can turn mint bitter. Fresh mint leaves are a great addition in salads and as garnish for cool drinks and fruit desserts. While potatoes, peas, carrots, corn or green beans are boiling, add some fresh mint leaves to add flavor. Other uses for mint include:
  • Add chopped mint to sauces for red meat and especially for lamb.
  • Add finely chopped mint leaves to a chocolate sauce.
  • Add to cold and hot soups.
  • Use to make curries.
  • Add chopped mint to rice, chickpea or bean dishes.
Mint is so easy to grow and even more easy to integrate into a daily diet of good nutrition. With so many proven health benefits, it only makes sense to have this healthy herb in the fridge!


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