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Herb Spotlight: Mint

 Mint is an herb that has been used for hundreds of years because of its remarkable medicinal properties. In modern times, science has discovered that mint has one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any food, but this herb is still most well-known through its applications as a mouth and breath freshener. We look deeper to find that mint has far more to offer than meets the eye.Mint-leaves-2007Health Benefits

Originally used as a medicinal herb to treat stomach aches, we now know that mint is an extremely versatile and antioxidant-packed herb when it comes to its health benefits. Along with its ability to sooth cases of indigestion or inflammation, the refreshing aroma of mint is a quick and effective remedy for nausea. As a natural stimulant, the strong smell from mint has the ability to encourage increase in brain function. Moreover, research has shown that extracts from mint leaves function as natural anti-histamines when seasonal allergies and hay fever come into play. There are a myriad of other health benefits to using mint and more can be found here.

Growing and Cultivation

Mint is an herb that makes few demands and can tolerate a wide range of conditions. This perennial herb thrives in partial shade, but can also be grown in full sun. As a fast-growing herb that only requires a small space to grow, even only one plant will provide more than enough mint for home use. According to Medical News Today,

When preparing mint, use a sharp knife and cut gently. Using a dull knife or over-chopping will bruise the herb and much of the flavor will be misplaced onto the cutting board surface.

Although mint can be frozen in batches for use at a later time, fresh mint is usually preferred over dried mint for the highest nutrient factor and the freshest taste.

Let’s Eat More Mint

mintAdding mint is a great way to add flavor to a dish or beverage without adding extra calories, fat or sodium. Mint leaves are tender and have gentle stems, so it is best to add them raw or near the end of cooking in order to maintain their delicate flavor and texture.

Chop fresh mint leaves and scatter them over a tossed green or grilled chicken salad. Incorporate mint into a fresh fruit salsa with chopped apples, pear, lemon or lime juice, jalapeno and honey. In these mixtures, the mint leaves will add trace amounts of nutrients as well as a bold flavor. Add chopped or muddled mint leaves to brewed iced tea or lemonade for a refreshing treat.

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