Mint is the common name for several plant species in the genus Mentha, including peppermint and spearmint.
These plants are well-known for providing a cooling effect. They can be used in both fresh and dry foods.
Mint is widely used in a variety of dishes and beverages, including teas and alcoholic beverages, as well as sauces, salads, and desserts.
While eating the plant has certain health benefits, study suggests that applying mint to the skin, inhaling its aroma, or taking it as a capsule has several more.
This article examines eight scientifically proven health advantages of mint.
1. Rich in Nutrients
While mint is not commonly ingested in big numbers, it does contain certain nutrients.
In reality, a little less than a third of a cup or half an ounce (14 grammes) of spearmint includes (1):
- Calories: 6
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Vitamin A: 12% of the RDI
- Iron: 9% of the RDI
- Manganese: 8% of the RDI
- Folate: 4% of the RDI
Mint is frequently used in little amounts in dishes due to its lively flavour, so consuming even 1/3 cup may be tough. However, certain salad recipes that contain mint among the other ingredients may come close to this amount.
Mint is an excellent source of vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin essential for eye health and night vision.
Summary Although it is not commonly ingested in big numbers, mint includes a variety of minerals, including vitamin A and antioxidants.
2. May Improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a frequent digestive problem. It is distinguished by digestive symptoms such as stomach pain, gas, bloating, and bowel disturbances.
Although dietary changes and medication are frequently used to treat IBS, research suggests that consuming peppermint oil as a herbal cure may also be beneficial.
Peppermint oil contains the chemical menthol, which is thought to help relieve IBS symptoms by relaxing the muscles of the digestive tract.
A meta-analysis of nine research involving over 700 IBS patients discovered that ingesting peppermint oil capsules significantly alleviated IBS symptoms compared to placebo capsules.
According to one study, 75% of patients who took peppermint oil for four weeks improved their IBS symptoms, compared to 38% of patients in the placebo group.
Notably, almost all studies that demonstrated IBS symptom improvement used oil capsules rather than raw mint leaves.
Summary IBS is a prevalent intestinal condition. Several studies have found that consuming peppermint oil capsules helped IBS patients' symptoms.
3. May Help Relieve Indigestion
Mint may also help with other digestive issues such as upset stomach and indigestion.
Indigestion can occur when food remains in the stomach for an extended period of time before moving into the rest of the digestive tract.
Multiple studies have indicated that using peppermint oil with meals helps food flow through the stomach faster, which may alleviate symptoms of this form of indigestion.
In a clinical investigation of persons with indigestion, a combination of peppermint oil and caraway oil administered in capsules demonstrated results similar to indigestion drugs. This aided in the relief of stomach pain and other digestive issues.
In trials showing mint’s capacity to treat indigestion, similar to IBS, peppermint oil was utilised rather than fresh or dried leaves.
Summary Several studies have indicated that peppermint oil helps increase the rate at which food travels through the stomach, alleviating indigestion-related digestive problems.
4. Could Improve Brain Function
In addition to consuming mint, some suggest that inhaling the perfume of the plant’s essential oils might bring health benefits such as better brain function.
One research of 144 young adults found that smelling peppermint oil for five minutes before testing produced significant increases in memory.
Another study discovered that smelling these oils while driving boosted attentiveness while decreasing annoyance, anxiety, and exhaustion.
However, not all research agree that peppermint oil can improve cognitive performance. According to one study, the scent of the oil was energising and reduced weariness, but it had no effect on cognitive performance.
More research is needed to better understand how it works and to determine whether peppermint actually improves brain function.
Summary Some research suggest that sniffing peppermint oil may boost memory and attentiveness, while others indicate no benefit. More research is required to fully comprehend the effects of mint on brain function.
5. May Decrease Breastfeeding Pain
Sore and cracked nipples are prevalent among breastfeeding women, making breastfeeding uncomfortable and challenging.
Applying mint to the skin has been demonstrated in studies to help reduce pain associated with nursing.
Breastfeeding mothers in these research applied several types of mint to the area surrounding the nipple after each feeding. They typically utilised essential oils on their own or in combination with gel or water.
According to one study, using peppermint water after nursing was more effective than using expressed breast milk at preventing nipple and areola cracks, resulting in reduced nipple soreness.
Another study found that just 3.8% of moms who used peppermint gel developed nipple cracks, compared to 6.9% who used lanolin and 22.6% who used a placebo.
Furthermore, another study found that using menthol essential oil after each feeding reduced the pain and severity of nipple cracks.
Summary Applying mint essential oils in a variety of forms appears to be useful in avoiding and treating nipple cracks and soreness that are common during breastfeeding.
6. Subjectively Improves Cold Symptoms
Menthol, a major ingredient in peppermint oil, is found in many over-the-counter cold and flu medicines.
Many individuals feel that menthol is a powerful nasal decongestant that can relieve congestion while also improving airflow and breathing.
Several studies, however, suggest that menthol has little decongestant effect. Having said that, studies demonstrate that menthol can improve nasal breathing subjectively.
This means that, while menthol is not a decongestant, it might make people feel like they are breathing more easily through their nostrils.
This is likely to provide some relief to people suffering from a cold or the flu.
Summary Although menthol is not a nasal decongestant, it can provide some relief from cold and flu symptoms by subjectively enhancing nasal airflow.
7. May Mask Bad Breath
When it comes to preventing or treating bad breath, individuals often opt for mint-flavored chewing gum and breath mints.
Most of these solutions, according to experts, can cover bad breath for a few hours. However, they just mask foul breath and do not address the bacteria or other substances that cause it in the first place.
Drinking peppermint tea and chewing on fresh leaves, on the other hand, may be able to conceal foul breath while also killing bacteria, as test-tube studies have emphasised the antibacterial qualities of peppermint oil.
Summary Breath mints and chewing gum can cover unpleasant odours for a few hours, but they are not an ideal long-term cure for bad breath. Peppermint tea and mint leaf chewing may be more effective in eliminating microorganisms that cause bad breath.
8. Easy to Add to Your Diet
Mint can be easily included into green salads, sweets, smoothies, and even water. Another popular way to incorporate it into your diet is through peppermint tea.
However, many of the trials demonstrating mint’s health benefits did not involve eating the leaves with food. Mint was instead ingested as a pill, rubbed to the skin, or inhaled through aromatherapy.
When utilising mint for health purposes, it is critical to consider what you want to achieve and how the plant was utilised in study for that aim.
The list below should assist summarise some of the above-mentioned research.
- Eating fresh or dried leaves: Used to treat bad breath.
- Inhaling essential oils: May improve brain function and cold symptoms.
- Applying it to the skin: Used to reduce nipple pain from breastfeeding.
- Taking capsules with food: May help treat IBS and indigestion.
Summary Mint is easily included into your diet, but most studies demonstrating health benefits required taking it as a pill, applying it to the skin, or breathing it via aromatherapy.
The Bottom Line
Mint is a tasty and healthy addition to a variety of dishes and beverages.
Although mint is simple to incorporate into a variety of recipes, studies establishing its health benefits have primarily used mint in capsule form, applied to the skin, or inhaled via aromatherapy.
Mint has numerous health benefits, including improved brain function and digestive issues, as well as relief with nursing discomfort, cold symptoms, and even foul breath.
You can’t go wrong with including mint in your diet.