Peppermint has been one of the most popular herbs since antiquity due to its distinct aroma, flavor and exceptional medicinal value and culinary uses.
The peppermint herb has a unique cooling and refreshing effect on the taste buds. The oil and fragrance stimulate the nose and throat when inhaled due to the presence of menthol in the leaves.
Peppermint is the most popular mint variety for dessert dishes, beverages, confectionery and candy, especially for flavoring chocolate.
It is also used for savory dishes, especially lamb, Middle Eastern cuisine. It is often added to salads and broths and is used to make sauces and salad dressings.
This article summarizes the health benefits of the fresh peppermint herb, peppermint tea and peppermint oil, both for eating and drinking and for various medicinal uses.
The nutrients in peppermint are compared with Spearmint and several herbs that have similar uses: Parsley, Chives, Thyme, Oregano (in the Mint Family).
The peppermint herb (Mentha piperita) belongs to the Lamiaceaefamily in genus Mentha. Peppermint is actually a natural hybrid between spearmint (Mentha spicata) and water mint (Mentha aquatica). Like many hybrids, the mint plant is often sterile, producing no seeds and proliferating only through vegetative reproduction via its underground rhizomes.
Mint herbs originated in Europe, and now grown throughout the world. Peppermint has a very long history of medicinal uses, perhaps as long as ten thousand years.
Peppermint oil has a high menthol content and also contains menthyl esters, and other beneficial compounds. Menthol stimulates cold-sensitive TRPM8 receptors in mucosal tissues and on the skin, producing its characteristic cooling sensation, refreshing taste and clearing sensation in the air passages to the lungs.
Peppermint is a rich source of a variety of antioxidants that provide many health benefits by helping to neutralize harmful free radicals.
Total antioxidant strength (ORAC) of fresh peppermint herb is about 14 umole Trolex equivalents/100 g.
The table below shows that mint has one of the highest ratings for antioxidant capacity of any dried herb. The levels are twice that shown for most other dried herbs.
|Dried Herb||Antioxidant content mmol/100 g)|
|Allspice, dried ground||100.4|
|Bay leaves, dried||27.8|
|Cinnamon sticks and whole bark||26.5|
|Cinnamon, dried ground||77|
|Clove, dried, whole and ground||277.3|
|Dill, dried ground||20.2|
|Estragon, dried ground||43.8|
|Mint leaves, dried||116.4|
|Nutmeg, dried ground||26.4|
|Oregano, dried ground||63.2|
|Rosemary, dried ground||44.8|
|Saffron, dried ground||44.5|
|Saffron, dried whole stigma||17.5|
|Sage, dried ground||44.3|
|Thyme, dried ground||56.3|
The table below summarizes the nutrition data for peppermint and also provides a comparison with other fresh herbs. The key points are:
► Peppermint contains no cholesterol, and has a moderate level of calories, dietary fiber and carbohydrate.
► Peppermint is a rich source of vitamins: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, beta carotene, Vitamin K and vitamin E. Mint also contains an array of B-complex vitamins: riboflavin, folates and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6).
► Peppermint-herb is an excellent source of minerals, particularly potassium, copper, calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium.
► Peppermint is a rich source of volatile oils like menthly esters, menthol and menthol acetate. These compounds react with the cold-sensitive receptors in the mouth, skin and throat, providing the natural cooling-sensation that is why it is such as favorite in drinks and confectionery.
► Menthol in peppermint has natural pain-killer, anesthetic and irritation relief properties.
► Peppermint tea and oil relieves symptoms of diarrhea, and mild gastric infections and stomach upsets.
► It helps to stimulate the secretion of bile and so helps the digestion of fats.
► Mint helps alleviate the symptoms of asthma, colds, flu and bronchitis.
► Menthol is a mild vasodilator of the nasal mucous membranes. It can be added to hot water for steam inhalation. The oil can be used for massaging the chest to relieve congestion.
► Mint oil is a good tonic and general stimulant and helps relieve the symptoms of depression.
► It is also known to help treatment of rheumatism and joint pain.
► The antibacterial action of mint can help treat acne and blackheads.
► Peppermint oil has been used for the preparation of topical analgesics and muscle relaxants.
► It is also widely used oral hygiene products and for treating bad-breath. This includes mouthwash, toothpaste, mouth freshener sprays and similar products.
Fresh peppermint should be washed well before use to remove sand and dirt, and to get rid off any residual pesticides other chemicals and pests.
Some of the general use options are:
► Preparation of herbal tea.
► Flavoring for sweets, ice cream, chocolate and other confectionery.
► Often used as a garnish for salads and a variety of Asian dishes including noodle soups.
► Chopped mint leaves make great addition to green salads.
► Mint is widely used to make tabbouleh, sambousek and many grain based salads and side dishes
► Mint pairs especially well with lamb, and is often made into jelly or sauce used as a condiment.
► Although mint is often often a feature of Thai, Vietnamese and other Asian recipes, the plant used in these dishes is actually not related to mint, despite its similar taste. Vietnamese mint (Persicaria odorata) is widely used in noodle soups, stir fries, raw summer rolls and various curries.
► In Mexico, mint is a common ingredient for making meatballs.
► Mint is widely used for a wide variety of beverages including peppermint teas.
|Nutrients in 100g Serving||Peppermint||Spearmint||Parsley||Chives||Thyme||Oregano|
|Energy||70 Cal||44 Cal||36 Cal||30 Cal||101 Cal||306 Cal|
|Carbs||14.79 g||8.41 g||6.33 g||4.35 g||24.45 g||64.43 g|
|Protein||3.75 g||3.29 g||2.97 g||3.27 g||5.56 g||11 g|
|Total Fat||0.94 g||0.73 g||0.8 g||0.73 g||1.68 g||10.25 g|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0 mg||0 mg||0 mg||0 mg||0 mg|
|Dietary Fiber||8 g||6.8 g||3.3 g||2.5 g||14.0 g||42.8 g|
|Folates||114 mcg||105 mcg||152 mcg||105 mcg||45 mcg||274 mcg|
|Niacin||1.706 mg||0.948 mg||1.313 mg||0.647 mg||1.824 mg||6.22 mg|
|Pantothenic acid||0.338 mg||0.400 mg||0.324 mg||0.409 mg||0.921 mg|
|Pyridoxine||0.129 mg||0.158 mg||0.090 mg||0.138 mg||0.348 mg||1.210 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.266 mg||0.175 mg||0.098 mg||0.115 mg||0.471 mg||0.320 mg|
|Thiamin||0.082 mg||0.078 mg||0.086 mg||0.078 mg||0.48 mg||0.341 mg|
|Vitamin A||4248 IU||4054 IU||8424 IU||4353 IU||4751 IU||6903 IU|
|Vitamin C||31.8 mg||13.3 mg||133 mg||58.1 mg||160.1 mg||50 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.75 mg||0.21 mg||18.86 mg|
|Vitamin K||1640 mcg||212.7 mcg||621.7 mcg|
|Sodium||31 mg||30 mg||56 mg||3 mg||9 mg||15 mg|
|Potassium||569 mg||458 mg||554 mg||296 mg||609 mg||1669 mg|
|Calcium||243 mg||199 mg||138 mg||92 mg||405 mg||1576 mg|
|Copper||329 mcg||0.240 mg||0.149 mg||0.157 mg||17.45 mg||0.943 mg|
|Iron||5.08 mg||11.87 mg||6.20 mg||1.60 mg||160 mg||44 mg|
|Magnesium||80 mg||63 mg||50 mg||42 mg||1.719 mg||270 mg|
|Manganese||1.176 mg||1.118 mg||0.160 mg||0.373 mg||106 mg||4.667 mg|
|Zinc||1.11 mg||1.09 mg||1.07 mg||0.56 mg||1.81 mg||4.43 mg|