For several centuries now, mint has enjoyed a special status due to its aroma and its healing powers. It has long been known that mint is able to settle gastric issues and impart several other medicinal benefits. Mint is a low-calorie food and has a very little amount of fat and consists of only 48 cal per hundred grams serving. It also contains small amounts of protein. It is a great source of dietary fiber which is essential for intestinal health and cardiovascular health.
Mint is also a great source of vitamin C and carotenes. Apart from giving plants their characteristic colours, carotenes are known to be extremely efficient antioxidants. Beta carotenes are the most well-known carotenes and have been proven to be extremely beneficial in conditions related to eye health and cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin C is known to provide protection from several types of cancers such as colon and rectal cancer. It is also a great antioxidant and imparts certain benefits to the skin and prevents premature ageing.
Mint also contains several minerals like magnesium, calcium, and iron which are extremely essential for various bodily processes.
The following are some benefits of mint:
1. Prevents cancer:
Mint is known to contain several antioxidants which are essential in fighting cancer. They bind to free radicals in the body which are responsible for denaturation of DNA and causing cancer. Mint also contains a phyto-nutrient called perillyI alcohol. Perillyl alcohol is known to prevent the formation of skin, lung, and colon cancer.
Apart from this, several other compounds present in mint like retinoids are involved in critical processes in the body which prevent cancer.
2. Aids in digestion:
Mint contains several essential and non-essential oils like menthol oil. These activate the salivary glands in the mouth and also the glands which are responsible for secreting digestive enzymes. This helps in improving the digestion and absorption of food. These oils also help to soothe the stomach in case of inflammation and indigestion.
Mint also contains soluble and insoluble fibers which help to provide mass to the digested food. This helps the food to move faster through the intestines and also helps to clean up the intestines. This action again plays a major role in enabling digestion and increasing absorption of various vitamins, minerals and amino acids in the food.
3. Prevents nausea and vomiting:
The oils present in mint are an effective remedy against vomiting and nausea. Mint oil and other products which contain mint flavouring are known to alleviate symptoms of hangovers and travel sickness. Mint is also known to be useful in providing relief in case of headaches and migraines. In fact, mint is also good for relieving symptoms of cold when applied to the nose and forehead as a balm or solution.
4. Prevents allergies:
COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes are known to cause allergies in humans. Mint contains rosmarinic acid which is an antioxidant responsible for quenching free radicals and reduction of symptoms of allergies by inhibiting these enzymes.
Another study showed that ingestion of 21 mg of rosmarininc acid for 21 days significantly reduced the production of eosinophils, which are white blood cells responsible for allergic reactions. It also reduced the amount of inflammatory molecules and reduced the symptoms of allergies significantly. In fact, a study showed that application of this substance on the skin reduced inflammatory reactions within a few hours. It was hence concluded that there might be several benefits with regard to treatment of allergies in lieu of the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of mint.
5. Improves dental and oral health:
Mint is an indispensable part of toothpastes and mouthwashes. It is primarily due to the effect it has on bad breath and halitosis. The essential oils in mint reduce bad breath and kill halitosis-causing micro organisms. This results in a much cleaner mouth and at the same time reduces the chances of other infections. The texture and the high fiber content of mint ensures that plaque and tartar are reduced which is again essential for oral health. It also inhibits the growth of bacteria and cleans the tongue and teeth.
6. Treats respiratory disorders and coughs:
The strong aroma of mint and the essential oils consisting of vitamin C and rosmarinic acid all come together to provide relief from the congestions in the respiratory tract including those of the throat, nose, lungs and bronchi. This gives respite from disorders which result in common cold and asthma. It also clears up the phlegm which causes discomfort in the throat and coughing. This has the direct effect of enabling smoother breathing and relieving stress.
7. Aids in Healing wounds and stress injuries:
Mint contains reserves of vitamin C, which is involved in the production of collagen in the body. Collagen is an essential component of the cell wall, connective tissue, joints, skin, bones and various organs.
The presence of vitamin C in mint means that ingesting it can help cells and tissues recover much faster than normal. Additionally, abundant presence of other vitamins and minerals in mint helps this process further. The presence of vitamin C also helps to heal sore muscles in conjunction with the action of collagen, which means that individuals can recover faster from stress injuries.
8. Fights Fatigue and Depression:
Mint is considered to be a natural stimulant. The plethora of natural oils and minerals present in mint play a major role in boosting energy levels and providing a boost to bodily processes when the body is sluggish.
Menthol oil, derived from mint, can act as a stress reliever and helps your body relax and relieve the built up stress, while allowing a good sleep to help your body recover from various physical and mental stresses.
9. Aids in Weight Loss:
Being a stimulant, as discussed above, mint plays a major role in burning the stored fats to convert them into energy. This, in itself, is a great way to lose weight. Mint has been observed to positively boost the production of various digestive enzymes which help the body better absorb nutrients and burn fat.
There are no major side effects of mint, given that it is taken in very small quantities. But there has been some evidence of mint causing sterility in both males and females. But a lot of research needs to be conducted along these lines to definitively prove this claim.
Apart from this, if cleaned properly before ingesting, mint poses almost no side effects.