Mint is often associated with toothpaste, candy, and chewing gum as well as with the Christmas season and the associated onslaught of diet-destroyers like candy canes, peppermint bark, and the ever-irresistible peppermint mocha frappucino. However, just because you're staying away from the sweet stuff this Christmas season doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the amazing flavor of mint!

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Though peppermint and spearmint are the most well-known forms of mint, there are actually 15 to 20 species of the herb, each with hundreds of variations. Mint is also one of the world's oldest herbs, having been found in many traditional Indian recipes and even in the Egyptian pyramids! It's also a powerful antioxidant, meaning it can play a critical role in helping protect the body against the damage usually caused by free radicals.

For instance, mint has been proven to be an effective buffer against the damage that might be caused by radiation and to inhibit some of the enzymes that can lead to cancer. Mint also seems to have special properties against prostate cancer. Similarly, mint may help prevent the formation of gastric ulcers that can develop after exposure to common toxins like those found in alcohol.

By the way, have you ever wondered what makes your cough drops so soothing? That would be menthol, the compound that gives mint its pain relieving and numbing properties. Patients suffering from the common cold usually report benefitting from mint's anti-inflammatory properties as well as its immediate painkilling effect.

mint

Mint has also been found to help alleviate the symptoms of allergies, which seems to be due to the fact that it contains a compound called rosmaranic acid. Some asthmatic patients have likewise found that mint vapor improves their symptoms, and studies have even shown that mint may benefit patients with respiratory conditions as severe as tuberculosis.

Mint can also work to combat indigestion by activating the salivary gland and speeding up gastric emptying, which has been found to reduce stomach pain, chemo-therapy induced nausea and vomiting and other gastrointestinal issues like IBS.

This speeded-up digestion may actually boost your weight loss because it can lead to better absorption of nutrients and more efficient transformation of fat into energy, thus speeding up your metabolism. On a related note, mint may help your liver control cholesterol levels by promoting greater bile secretion.

Though mint should be used with caution in pregnant women, mint may also help relieve the nausea associated with morning sickness, and it could be a big boon after the baby comes too!

One study showed that topical peppermint oil may help prevent and reduce the severity of painful nipple cracks in breastfeeding women, which it could do more effectively than both lanolin and a placebo. Peppermint oil has also been found to be at least as effective as the medication simethicone at treating infantile colic. However, you may want to avoid too much mint if you have acid reflux, or try taking a peppermint capsule rather than consuming a minty meal.

While mint products like gum and breath-mints only temporarily get rid of bad breath, fresh peppermint tea or leaves can also help fight the underlying bacteria that cause it! They can also help fight harmful bacteria in the digestive tract and reduce your risk of foodborne illness; just make sure you're using mint in addition to rather than instead of your current safety practices.

Mint is also notable for its mild stimulant properties. Even smelling peppermint oil before testing led to noticeable improvements in memory among study participants, as well as increased alertness and decreased frustration, anxiety and fatigue. Mint can also help relieve stress and depression by offering up a small serotonin boost.

There's also some evidence that mint can have anti-androgenic effects in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, potentially improving their their fertility.

mint

Be careful not to over-chop your mint, which could bruise the herb and rob it of its flavor. Mint has only about one calorie per tablespoon, yet it will offer you trace amounts of minerals like iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, copper and manganese, plus some vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folate, and vitamin B2.

Though mint is popular in desserts, that's far from its only use; it can be a far more wholesome and tastier way to flavor a savory dish than a load of high-calorie sauce or heart-unhealthy sodium. For instance, mint can enhance both fruit salads and veggie ones.Mint leaves also go great in drinks, especially chocolate ones, and are a wonderful accompaniment to a good cocktail or just plain old lemon water! Peppermint tea contains no caffeine, so it's safe to drink even late into the evening, though there are some "green mint" teas available if you do want a bit of a buzz. Instead of a harmful diet soda or a typical sugar-laden Christmas drink, you could also try combining coffee, a peppermint teabag, and some healthy mix-ins for a low-calorie treat.

Topical mint oil may also combat headaches and skin conditions ranging from burns to acne to ant bites! Plus, mint can act as a bug repellent, which means adding it to your garden could help keep the pests away⁠—so you may not get bitten in the first place!

Mint Sauce

mint sauce

This easy mint sauce can add a soothing touch to almost any meal! Estimated nutritional value of 15 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1g carbohydrate, .4g fiber, .2 protein, and .2 sugar.

Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook time
N/A
Yield
1 serving

Ingredients

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds until emulsified.

Recipe provided by

Shrimp with Mint and Cilantro

shrimp with mint and cilantro

This minty dish will add some pizzaz to your meal plan! Estimated nutritional value of 134 calories, 2 g fat, 211 mg cholesterol, 3.8 g carbohydrate, .7 g fiber, 23.5 g protein, and .7 g sugar.

Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook time
15 minutes
Yield
Makes 1 serving (1 protein)

Ingredients

  • 100 grams shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 clove garlic crushed and minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Stevia (optional)

Directions
In a small frying pan, fry up the garlic in the lemon juice. Add shrimp, cilantro, mint and parsley. Stir fry together until shrimp is cooked and coated with herb mixture. Add a little extra water or lemon juice if necessary. Garnish lemon wedges.

Phase 3 Modifications
Add a little olive oil, parmesan cheese and top with walnuts or pine nuts.

Recipe provided by

Mum's Mint Cabbage

mum's mint cabbage

This simple cabbage recipe will satisfy all your cravings! Estimated nutritional value of 93 calories, .4g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 20.5 g carbohydrate, 6.8 g fiber, 3.4 g protein, and 9.3 g sugar.

Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook time
1 minute
Yield
1 serving

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbs mint

Directions
Shred cabbage and slice onion. Fry in a non stick pan together until brown. Add apple cider vinegar, mint and seasoning cook for 1 min then serve.

Recipe provided by

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