Most people are familiar with the flavor of peppermint — it's the plant that gives the candy of the same name its cool burst of flavor. What most people don't know, however, is that peppermint is an herb with a very high concentration of antioxidants. The health benefits of peppermint are primarily due to its antioxidant content.
Peppermint is an excellent source of antioxidants like vitamin C and beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Peppermint is also a very good source of fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, vitamin B2 and omega 3 fats.
It's a little-known fact that herbs (and spices) such as peppermint have far greater concentrations of antioxidants than any common fruit or vegetable source. Herbs also contain a particularly wide variety of antioxidants as well, making them one of the top antioxidant foods around.
Antioxidants are nutrient compounds found in virtually all plant foods (and also manufactured in your body). The primary job of antioxidants is to protect your cells against the oxidative stress caused by free radicals, considered to be the primary cause of the aging process.
Protecting yourself against free radicals with antioxidants is the most effective way to reduce the risk of many health problems associated with aging. The benefits of antioxidants include powerful protection against all types of degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, and many more.
work together, synergistically, and each one has its own specific
characteristics and benefits. One antioxidant may work in places in the
body where another one can't go, and neutralize free radicals that other
antioxidants miss. Therefore, getting the widest variety of antioxidants is just as important as how much of any one antioxidant you get. See my page on How Do Antioxidants Work? to learn more about this.
The health benefits of peppermint include an ability to relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including indigestion, dyspepsia, and muscle spasms in your colon. These healing benefits of peppermint are apparently related to its natural muscle-relaxing properties, probably due to the menthol contained in peppermint.
Peppermint contains phytonutrients that have been shown to stop the growth of pancreatic, mammary, and liver tumors. Peppermint has also been shown to protect against cancer formation in the colon, skin, and lungs.
Essential oil of peppermint has also be found to inhibit the growth of many different bacteria and certain types of fungus as well.
Peppermint contains the substance rosmarinic acid, which has several actions that are beneficial in asthma. In addition to its antioxidant abilities in neutralizing free radicals, rosmarinic acid has been shown to reduce inflammation.
The health benefits of peppermint are so numerous, ideally you'd want to have some every day. However, as with any herb or spice, you may find it impractical to include peppermint in your meal plans that often. There's an easy way to accomplish this — by making yourself a fresh smoothie every day and adding some peppermint and other spices to your recipe.
Fresh smoothies make for some of the most nutritious, delicious and easy-to-make meals you could imagine. They're a great way to get more of those "good for you" antioxidant-rich foods (that you may not get enough of) into your diet.
I personally use herbs such as basil, cilantro and parsley in my green smoothie recipes to give them more of the benefits of dark green leafy vegetables. Because they're so concentrated with antioxidants, you can use a much smaller amount than you would with other greens like kale or spinach, and they won't overwhelm the flavor of your smoothie recipe.
I don't stop there, either. I like to use other spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, turmeric and others in my smoothie recipes, mostly for their added antioxidant benefits. Once they're blended in with all the other ingredients, you can't really distinguish any one particular taste. You just need to experiment a little to get the flavor just right for you.
To learn more about the art of making smoothies, skip on over to my page on How to Make a Smoothie the Healthy Way and learn all my tricks for making delicious and nutritious smoothies!
To learn more about peppermint and ways to use it:
The World's Healthiest Foods/Peppermint
As with most herbs and spices, fresh is always best. If you want to get all of the health benefits of peppermint from the dried variety, you'll want to stay away from typical supermarket brands of bottled spices. Most of them are irradiated in order to destroy microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses that might be present. Irradiation, however, damages the integrity of the spice — destroying vitamins, minerals, proteins and other beneficial micronutrients. Irradiation also creates more free radicals, just the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish by eating spices.
Click on any of the following links to get more information on
the health benefits of specific herbs and spices:
Protect the Future of Your Food Supply