Peppermint has been among the most popular and well-used herbs for centuries. The herb is a natural hybrid-cross between spearmint and watermint and features lance-shaped, dark green leaves with purple veins and flowers. It originated in Europe and is cultivated is most areas of the world today. The herb grows best in shady conditions.
Peppermint is renowned for its medicinal value and distinctive aroma. It provides a cool and refreshing sensation on the throat, palate and taste buds when consumed, and it can also be inhaled to provide relief to the olfaction glands.
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This unique, soothing quality of peppermint is mainly due to the menthol contained in the herb, which is an essential oil found in its stems and leaves. The herb contains several chemical compounds known to have disease, preventing and anti-oxidant properties that promote good health.
Nutrients In Peppermint
There is no cholesterol contained in peppermint. However, it is a rich source of dietary fiber, vitamins and essential oils, which helps keep blood pressure and blood cholesterol under control.
There are numerous essential oils in the herb, including menthol, menthol acetate and menthone. These compounds have a soothing effect on the cool-sensitive receptors of the throat, mouth and skin, which is what provides the natural cooling sensation when peppermint is consumed, inhaled or applied to the skin. Menthol has counter-irritant properties and can also work as a local anesthetic and painkiller. Peppermint can also be used an anti-spasmodic agent for treating irritable bowel syndrome as well as other types of pain disorders.
Peppermint is rich in minerals and is a great source of magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorus, calcium and potassium. One gram of fresh peppermint contains 569 milligrams of potassium, which is a very important component of body fluids and cells to help control blood pressure and heart rate. The herb also contains small amount of manganese, copper and zinc.
The herb is also rich in several antioxidant vitamins, including Vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and beta carotene. The leaves of the plant contain several important B-complex vitamins, including vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), riboflavin and folates. Peppermint is also a great source of vitamin K and contains panthothenic acid, niacin and thiamin.
Uses Of Peppermint
The high nutritional value of peppermint is what makes this herb so popular and useful for both culinary and health purposes. It can provide flavor and aroma for many foods and beverages, including herbal tea, ice cream, used as an ingredient in sauces, soups and chutney and can serve as a garnish as well.
The herb is also used in many bad breath remedies and oral hygiene products like toothpaste, mouthwash and tongue and mouth spray. It is also used a flavor agent for many candies and chewing gums.
Peppermint is also contained in many cold and cough products, such as lozenges, syrups and nasal inhalers to provide soothing and relief from pain. It is also used in analgesics and topical muscle relaxants to sooth irritation and pain. As you can see, the nutrients found in peppermint lend themselves to many important health and culinary benefits.