Peppermint herb nutrition facts
Peppermint has been one of the popular herbs known since antiquity for its distinctive aroma and medicinal value. The herb has a characteristic refreshing cool breeze sensation on taste buds, palate and throat when eaten; and on nasal olfaction glands when inhaled. This unique quality of mint is due presence of menthol, an essential oil in it.
Botanically, the herb belongs to the lamiaceae family of the genus; Mentha and botanically named as Mentha piperita. It is actually a natural hybrid-cross between water mint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata).
Mint herb is originally native to Europe, and now cultivated in all the regions of the world. It grows well under shady conditions and feature lance-shaped purple-veined, dark green leaves with serrated margins and purple color whorly flowers.
In general, the mint plant is usually sterile; producing no seeds and reproducing only vegetatively, spreading through its underground rhizomes. There exist more than 20 varieties of mints with wide range of color, fragrance, and flavor.
Health benefits of peppermint
Mint contains numerous plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.
This popular herb contains no cholesterol; but is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fiber, which helps to control blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
The herb parts contain many essential volatile oils like menthol, menthone, menthol acetate. These compounds effect on cold-sensitive receptors in the skin, mouth and throat, the property which is responsible for the well known cooling sensation that it provokes when inhaled, eaten, or applied to the skin.
The essential oil, menthol, also has analgesic (pain-killer), local anesthetic and counter-irritant properties.
Research studies have also been suggested that the compounds in the peppermint relaxes intestinal wall and sphincter smooth muscles through blocking calcium channel at cell receptor levels. This property of mint has been applied as an anti-spasmodic agent in the treatment of "irritable bowel syndrome" or IBS and other colic pain disorders.
Peppermint-herb is an excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are important co-factors for antioxidant enzyme superoxide-dismutase.
It is also rich in many antioxidant vitamins including vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin-C and vitamin E. The leaves of mint also contain many important B-complex vitamins like folates, riboflavin and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6); and the herb is also an excellent source of vitamin-K.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.94 g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber||8 g||20%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.338 mg||6.5%|
|Vitamin A||4248 IU||141%|
|Vitamin C||31.8 mg||53%|
Selection and storage
Fresh as well as dried peppermint leaves are available in the markets year around. Whenever possible, buy fresh mint over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor and rich in phyto-nutrients, vital vitamins and anti-oxidants. Fresh mint should feature vibrant green color leaves and firm stems. They should be free from molds, dark spots or yellowing.
Just as with other dried herbs, whenever you purchase dried mint, try to buy one that is organically grown since this will ensure you that it is free from pesticide residues and has not been irradiated.
Fresh mint leaves should be stored in the refrigerator; place in a zip pouch or wrapped in a slightly dampened paper towel. Dried mint can be kept fresh for few months when stored in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place.
As mentioned above, the essential oils in the peppermint act on cold-sensitive receptors in the skin, mouth and throat, the property which is responsible for the well known cooling sensation that it provokes when inhaled, eaten, or applied to the skin. This property of mint can be applicable in the preparation of cough/cold reliving remedies like syrups, lozenges and nose inhaler.
Peppermint oil has analgesic, local anesthetic and counter-irritant properties and has been used in the preparation of topical muscle relaxants and analgesics.
It is also being used in oral hygiene products and bad-breath remedies like mouthwash, toothpaste, mouth and tongue-spray, and more generally as a food flavor agent; e.g. in chewing-gum, candy.
The essential oils in the peppermint can relax smooth muscles in the intestinal wall and sphincters by blocking calcium channels in them. This property of mint has been applied in treating irritable bowel syndrome or IBS and as an anti-spasmodic agent.
Peppermint should be washed thoroughly in the water in order to remove sand and dirt and to rid off any residual pesticides. In order to keep the fragrance and aromatic flavor intact, mint is generally used just before preparing recipes.
Mint leaves used extensively in the preparation of herbal tea.
As a flavoring base in ice cream and other confectionery.
Along with parsley, mint is being used as garnish.
Mint has also been used in the preparation of soups, and sauces.
Freshly chopped mint leaves can be a great addition to green salad.
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