Mint, or mentha as it is sometimes referred to, is a very popular herb that can be consumed fresh or dried in many types of dishes and infusions. People have used them for various purposes for thousands of years. We see them alongside several dishes or on the edge of glasses in drinks. But are they edible?
It is safe for most people to eat mint leaves, and they actually have many beneficial properties. However, if you are pregnant or have a history of digestive issues such as reflux disease, hiatal hernia, or kidney stones, you will want to contact a medical professional just to be on the safe side.
Over the centuries, people have used various species of mint plants in medicine. It is well known that many mint species provide a wide range of helpful antioxidants and other health benefits. Please read on to learn more about the value of mint as well as its medicinal uses and the potential risk to specific individuals.
Is It Safe to Eat Mint Leaves?
Mint is a member of the Lamiaceae family, consisting of about 15 to 20 species, such as spearmint and peppermint, all of which are perfectly fine to eat raw or cooked. Mint leaves are a favored herb that people use, dried or fresh, in many dishes and infusions. By using fresh mint and other types of spices and herbs in cooking, a person can add flavor to their meal while also lowering their sodium and sugar intake.
Can All Mint Be Eaten?
The fact of the matter is that there are over 7,500 varieties of mint. While some are grown as trees or shrubs, there are others that, of course, are edible, and some are just ornamental.
Related How to Prepare Mint for 3 Different Uses.
Nutritional Value of Mint Leaves
Mint leaves contain the highest level of antioxidants of any herb. Mint is made up of many essential oils that have phenolic acids, flanovoids, carotenoids, etc. Ancient peoples have used mint oil for many purposes for more than 2,000 years. Nowadays, mint oil is widely used in the making of candy, perfumes, liquor and for treating a variety of conditions.
Pro Tip: Mint leaves are a gentle herb, so when using them in cooking, it is best to add them either raw or at the end of cooking. This enables them to retain their delicate texture and flavor.
What Are the Uses of Mint Leaves?
In Greek mythology, mint has been deemed the herb of hospitality, and it makes perfect sense. You see, in the early days of its discovery, all of the advantages to be obtained from mint were not yet understood, so mint was used only as a room freshener. It wasn’t until a later time that its multitude of other benefits was made known. Mint is often used in Indian, Middle Eastern, British and American cuisines, and it is also consumed in tea, various beverages, jellies, candies, syrup, ice cream, etc.
What Are the Benefits of Mint Leaves?
Below are discussed the best health benefits of mint and mint leaves. It is possible to use mint in many ways; you can use mint leaves, and mint oil, to blend mint with various other fruit items, and create healthy drinks that you will enjoy.
Fresh peppermint and spearmint leaves both have helpful nutrients, but if you’re looking for the ultimate in nutritional value, spearmint leaves provide the most. You can include spearmint leaves in your diet as a source of copper and manganese. Furthermore, they help decrease your appetite, stop hiccups, improve eyesight, give you stronger bones, and even help you sleep better.
1. Mint Leaves For Aiding Digestion
Mint has many soothing and cleansing abilities. One of these is that it keeps inflammation from invading the stomach, aids in the process of digestion, and cleanses the palate. This occurs due to the salivary glands being activated upon consuming mint leaf water, which allows the digestive enzymes to be created in adequate amounts.
2. Mint For Weight Loss
Utilizing mint will help you to lose any extra weight healthily. It makes possible the release of digestive enzymes that consume the fat content of the body to create energy. This means that rather than the fat accumulating in the body, it is in fact used to generate more energy.
You can drink mint weight loss drinks and smoothies to remain at a healthy body weight using this refreshing method.
3. Mint For Oral Health
Mint is frequently used as a breath freshener and also has germicidal tendencies. It halts bacterial growth in the mouth, along with providing a clean tongue and gums. For this reason, mint is a frequent ingredient used in the making of mouthwash, toothpaste, and chewing mints.
Of late, research has shown that individuals who were suffering from gingivitis — a gum disease that causes inflammation, swelling, and redness of the part of the gum that sits at the base of your teeth — can benefit from using mint as a mouthwash ingredient. It seems that people who rinsed with mint-infused mouthwash displayed noticeable improvement in the condition.
4. Mint Leaves For Loss of Memory
Individuals who regularly consume mint are believed to have better cognitive capabilities and higher levels of mental acuity. Mint is well known for being a stimulant that improves long-term memory and alertness.
Medicinal Uses of Mint Leaves
1. Mint Assuages Asthma
It seems that mint leaves have specific relaxant properties and are believed to be very helpful for treating asthma patients as it eases congestion in the nasal pipe. Despite this, how mint is used needs to be kept under careful control, as excessive use might irritate the stomach and nose.
2. Mint For the Respiratory System
Mint in tea or chewed raw has been used for the purpose of clearing throat congestion, the nose, bronchi, and lungs. It helps in cooling and soothing the throat, nose, and respiratory channels and keeping a prolonged disorder from developing that usually begins with the onset of asthma or the common cold. Mint is a natural cure and is widely used in the making of balms and ointments.
3. Mint Leaves Prevent Skin Allergies
It is well known that the essential oils found in mint impede the release of certain chemicals in the body that cause seasonal allergies and hay fever, also referred to as rhinitis. To be most effective with allergies, mint should be consumed fresh in its raw state or administered as mint tea.
4. Mint For the Liver
Mint has developed a reputation for being able to improve the strength of the liver. Due to its having essential nutritional oils and soothing and relaxing properties.
5. Mint Aids in Preventing Cancer
Indications are that certain active enzymes that are contained in mint have the ability to prevent and even cure cancer.
6. Mint Benefits Skin
Mint leaves have antipruritic and antiseptic properties, which helps make sure that the skin is thoroughly cleansed. It further aids in preventing and curing skin infections, lessens acne, and eases itchiness. It can also treat and eliminate scares caused by the bites of insects such as honeybees, wasps, mosquitoes, hornets, and gnats.
7. Soothing the Common Cold
Mint has menthol in it. This is a decongestant that might help break up phlegm and mucus, thus making it easier to expel.
One way of using mint to safely treat children who have a cold is by applying menthol ointments or vapor rubs.
In short, mint leaves are edible, and it is usually safe to eat them. However, there are people with certain health conditions who should be careful about exactly how much mint they consume. Otherwise, they might have to cope with some unpleasant side effects. Otherwise, mint is quite beneficial to us in many ways, so eat your mint leaves and your mint, and you will be healthier and happier for it.
What Are the Side Effects of Mint Leaves, if Any?
For most people eating mint leaves is not a problem. Even so, for individuals with a history of gallstone problems, mint should only be ingested after careful consultation with your doctor or another trained medical practitioner. The same is true for pregnant women, as on rare occasions, mint has been known to cause a miscarriage. Furthermore, it is recommended that one does not take excessive doses of mint as consuming large amounts of methol is not healthy.
Also, anyone suffering from gastrointestinal reflux disease, a hiatal hernia, or kidney stones should consume mint only with caution.
Other Uses For Mint
Along with being used in balms, beverages, inhalers, ointments, toothpaste, etc., mint is also often used in cooking. And due to its being a coolant with soothing, it is further used to calm inflammation, burns, and wounds.
Mint is grown globally all year long. It starts life as a small seed, but a small shrub is strong enough to keep expanding until it has grown to an extraordinary size. Although mint generally needs cool, moist places in the shade to produce swift growth, it is able to grow in mildly sunny temperatures too.
Since mint is relatively easy to grow, people can grow it at home, making it a sustainable way to add flavor to meals.
When purchasing mint, look for bright, unmarked leaves. Once you have bought them, store them in a reusable plastic bag in the refrigerator for as long as one week.
Pro Tip: While preparing mint, be sure to use a sharp knife and do your cutting gently. Using a dull knife or chopping too harshly will only bruise the herb and cause a loss of flavor.
In modern life, mint has become rather ubiquitous. Ever present in cuisine or as an accompaniment to comfort food and drinks, it’s hard to go a single day without seeing or even ingesting some form of mint. The good news is that for the vast majority of the population, there are only benefits to be had from this celebrated herb.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I had fun researching and writing it. Thanks for stoppin’ by!
For more, check out 11 Common Non-Edible Plants to Avoid in the Wild (With Pictures).
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.