Fennel is known for its strong anti-oxidant properties due to the presence of a number of phytonutrients.
Benefits of Fennel and its Seeds:
To prepare fennel tea, simply place 1 tsp of fennel seeds in a pot, add about 1/2 litre. Boil for 2 minutes and let it steep for another 3/5 minutes.
Fennel Salad Recipe 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 orange, segmented - save excess juice
1 ripe avocado, cut into wedges
8 mint leaves, torn
2 -3 baby spinach leaves chopped
1 lemon juiced
1/4 tsp freshly ground corriander seed
Pinch of fresh black pepper, red cayenne pepper and sea salt.
Chop in a bowl. Add in turn mint leaves amd seasoning and toss gently. Let the salad stand for a few minutes before serving to allow the spinach leaves to soften and flavours to meld. Enjoy !
Note: You may substitute the spinach leaves with lettuce leaves for a milder flavour.
Barbara is a qualified Holistic Nutritionist, a Health, Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, and author who promotes an authentic Mediterranean diet, teaches healthy eating and healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !
Barbara is also the Founder of Conscious Living providing services and products for a healthy lifestyle. She specializes in sales and trading of Moringa Oleifera (oil, seeds, leaf and end products such as teas, smoothie mixes and leaf powder), healthfoods, wholefood supplements and other products to enhance a healthy lifestyle.
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Most of us are familiar with the distinctively spicy, refreshing taste and invigorating, minty fragrance of a stick of peppermint or spearmint; it's a classic ingredient in breath fresheners, candies, gums, and herbal teas. Few, however, are aware that mint also has an impressively wide range of scientifically confirmed health benefits.
The popular, aromatic herb Mint, scientifically known as Mentha, is a perennial plant which is actually a genus comprising 15-20 known species, and hundreds of varieties. Peppermint and spearmint are just two of the most well-known of these species; some other varieties of mint you may have heard of are catnip, bergamot and lemon balm. Having originated in Asia and the Mediterranean region, the herb is now grown across Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, and Australia. It actually grows best in wet environments with moist soils, where if left unattended it can reach heights of up to 120 cm, and spread rapidly over a large area.
Humans have been cultivating and using the leaves of mint for many centuries; peppermint leaves have actually been found in the Egyptian pyramids! (1) With its trademark fragrance and taste, the versatile little herb is widely used in ice-creams and candy, tea, toothpastes, breath fresheners and inhalers, cosmetics and beauty products, insecticides, and even in cigarettes, where it masks the foul taste of tobacco and soothes the irritation it causes the smoker's throat. Mint leaves, whether fresh or dried, have long been a mainstay of cooking as well. Fresh leaves in particular add flavor to many different recipes, whilst drinks and foods containing mint cool you off in the summer.
Mint has long been valued for its medicinal properties, too, and those are what we shall focus on in this article. Mint was used as a herbal medicine as far back as the ancient Egyptians thousands of years ago (2). Science is only now catching up on the ancients, with modern research confirming that this remarkable plant has a wide variety of potential health benefits, including treatment of gastrointestinal disorders; promotion of proper digestion; weight loss; relief from depression, memory loss, headache and nausea; treatment of common cold and asthma; prevention of skin problems, and more.
And the good news is that, with recipes available for dishes ranging from mint smoothies and shakes, to jellies and fruit salads, to sauces and mint salsas, there are endless ways you can reap the health benefits of magical, marvellous mint. If you wish to better your health whilst also treating yourself to a delightful snack, then this heroic little herb is the one for you. Mint leaves can't be beat!
Health Benefits of Mint
LeavesHerbs often get overlooked when talking about what makes up a healthy diet. Because of their high antioxidant content, the myriad vitamins, minerals and other nutrients they contain, and the numerous health benefits with which they are associated, fruits and vegetables usually grab the health food headlines. But herbs also contain a wide variety of nutrients and offer a significant number of health benefits.
As well as being low in calories, fresh mint, including spearmint and peppermint, actually has one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any food (3). Because of this, mint can help alleviate a variety of common ailments. For example, anti-oxidants have been scientifically proven to possess anti-aging properties (4), (5), and are also thought to have a role to play in preventing cancer. But its high antioxidant content is just one of the many characteristics that make mint such a wonder for your wellbeing. This herb also contains vitamins A, B2 and C; plentiful fibre; and numerous minerals like iron (which you need to make red blood cells), potassium, zinc, calcium, copper and magnesium (6), (7), (8). Menthol, the compound in mint leaves that gives them their distinct aroma, also has soothing, pain relieving and local anesthetic properties (9).
Here are some of the specific health benefits of those maestro mint leaves...
1. Mint Leaves Help Treat Gastrointestinal DisordersMuch of the existing research on the therapeutic properties of mint suggests that the herb may be particularly effective in treating gastrointestinal disorders, including:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome – The use of peppermint oil in enteric-coated capsules has been found to be a safe and effective treatment for those suffering from abdominal pain and discomfort caused by Irritable Bowel Syndrome (10), (11). One study conducted in 2007 showed that an impressive 75 percent of subjects who consumed peppermint oil saw a greater than 50 percent reduction in their IBS symptoms score, compared to those who took a mere placebo (12). In fact, peppermint oil "may be the drug of first choice in IBS patients with non-serious constipation or diarrhea to alleviate general symptoms and to improve quality of life" (13). The beneficial effect also extends to kids. In one children's trial, approximately 75% of those taking peppermint oil experienced reduced IBS-associated pain within 2 weeks (14).
Functional dyspepsia – A study performed in 2000 found that when subjects suffering from dyspepsia took a daily infusion of peppermint and caraway seed oil, 67 percent of them reported a significant improvement in their symptoms (15).
Gastric ulcers – In certain animal studies, it has been demonstrated that menthol helps to protect the lining of the stomach against the harmful effects of ethanol and indomethacin, making it a useful means of preventing the formation of gastric ulcers associated with prolonged use of painkillers and alcohol (16).
Gastric Emptying Disorders – humble peppermint has also been shown to facilitate gastric emptying, indicating its usefulness for patients that have various gastrointestinal disorders (17).
Colonic spasm – Other scientific studies suggest peppermint oil may be a safe and effective alternative to the drug Buscopan given its capacity to reduce colonic spasms in barium enemas (18), (19).
Infantile Colic – Another study done in 2013 discovered peppermint is just as if not more effective at treating infantile colic as the synthetic chemical with which it is usually treated, simethicone (20).
Bottom Line: Mint leaves have the potential to treat a number of gastrointestinal disorders, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, functional dyspepsia, gastric ulcers, gastric emptying disorders, colonic spasm, and infantile colic.
2. Mint Leaves Aid DigestionIn addition to ameliorating the effects of gastrointestinal disorders, marvellous mint also promotes orderly digestion, and soothes stomach muscles beset by indigestion and inflammation. Mint is a soothing herb that has been used through the millennia to assist with indigestion and upset tummies (Michael T. Murray and Joseph E. Pizzorno, authors of "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods").
Did you know the aroma of mint by itself helps to activate the salivary glands along with the glands that excrete digestive enzymes, thus promoting smooth and proper digestion of food? (21) This is precisely why mint has for long been used in appetizers and as an ingredient in palate cleansers.
What’s more, peppermint apparently increases bile secretion and makes bile flow more efficiently - and may also promote healthier cholesterol levels (22). Mint in addition is a good relaxant, and the muscles in your digestive tract are one of the things it relaxes (23). Each of these factors help to speed up and ease the digestive process.
Meanwhile, for sufferers of indigestion, a calming cup of peppermint tea after meals may be just what your sick stomach needs to feel better (24). Mint contains menthol and methyl salicylate which both ease stomach spasms, and help your gut to settle down. Peppermint further functions as a carminative, which means it helps to relieve discomfort and pain from gas and bloating. Peppermint tea is a traditional home remedy for flatulence! (25)
Bottom Line: Consuming mint leaves prevents indigestion and keeps your gastrointestinal tract in good shape. It also prevents wind!
3. Mint Leaves Relieve Nausea
The menthol oil derived from freshly crushed mint leaves can also help soothe nausea and motion sickness (that makes it a very useful thing to take onboard flights!). Again, the mere aroma is often enough to ease your symptoms (26). One study from 2013 showed peppermint oil achieved good results in alleviating chemotherapy-induced nausea, and what’s more at a much cheaper price compared to standard pharmaceutical-based treatments (27). Were you aware that lots of people keep mint-containing products or menthol oil on their person at all times precisely to ward off feelings of nausea should they arise?
Bottom Line: The menthol in mint helps dispel the unwelcome sensation of nausea. Peppermint oil helps relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea.
4. Mint Leaves Provide You With Pain Relief From HeadachesIn addition to relieving nausea, mint leaves double up as a natural alternative to aspirin in the event of headaches. For example, it is known that when mint oil, or balms whose base is comprised of mint, are rubbed topically on the nose and forehead, they give rapid relief from headaches and migraines (28). Whereas brazilian mint (scientific name Hyptis crenata) has been scientifically demonstrated to be just as effective at providing pain relief as synthetic aspirin-style drugs when consumed as a "tea" (31). Magical mint is an inherently soothing substance, and so naturally it helps to ameliorate the symptoms of inflammation and fever that frequently accompany these conditions (29). In fact, applying peppermint extract externally has been found to increase the pain threshold in humans (30).
Bottom Line: Mint, whether applied topically or ingested as a tea, provides you with much needed (and all-natural) relief from pain caused by headaches and migraines.
5. Mint Leaves Help Soothe Irritated SkinBecause of its soothing properties, applying mint topically can also be an effective treatment for skin irritations and itchiness, such as those caused by rashes, reactions, and the like (32). Next time you have an unwelcome run-in with some poison ivy, try applying a wet rag soaked in peppermint tea, some cold mint tea bags, or a mixture of water and peppermint essential oil. The anti-pruritic properties of mint oil also come in handy in treating bites from insects including mosquitoes, honeybees, hornets, wasps, and gnats (34).
Mint oil is a natural antiseptic, which makes it useful for healing skin infections caused by cuts and insect bites. The cooling properties of mild mint will provide you with relief from the sensations of itchiness and irritation, at the same time as its anti-inflammatory attributes bring the swelling down.
Suffer from shingles? A study conducted back in 2002 found that applying peppermint oil topically to shingles resulted in a rapid improvement in patients' shingles-associated neuropathic pain symptoms; what is more, the effects lasted throughout the entire 2 months of follow-up treatment (33).
Finally, mint juice is also an effective skin cleanser. In addition to helping to eradicate pimples, it can also assist those with acne (34). In the same vein, mint juice can also be applied to heal and soothe burns (36).
Bottom Line: Mint leaves help soothe skin irritated and inflamed by rashes, reactions, burns and insect bites. Mint is a good anti-septic. Studies have found it is effective in reducing pain caused by shingles. Mint leaves can also help reduce pimples and acne.
6. Mint Leaves Make An Excellent All-Natural Insect RepellantOne study on natural insect repellants discovered that applying Australian bush mint essential oil to the arms gave great results, preventing mosquitoes both from landing on the skin and from biting it (37). If you don't have a bottle of the essential oil, you can rub the leaves directly on the skin (though it probably won't be as effective). In fact, mint oil is already found frequently in insect repellent devices such as citronella candles, as the smell alone is sufficient to ward off the majority of insects (35).
Bottom Line: Mint leaves can be used to make an all-natural, eco-friendly insect repellent.
7. Mint Leaves Promote Healthy HairA 2014 study showed that topically applying peppermint essential oil to the scalp positively affected the growth of new hair follicles (38). That's great news for those of you concerned about thinning hair or pattern baldness! Consider trying out an organic hair serum with mint and rosemary (39).
Bottom Line: Applying mint leaves topically promotes healthy hair growth and prevents hair thinning and baldness.
8. Mint Leaves Promote Weight LossYet another surprising health benefit of mighty mint, is that it can help you in your attempts to shed those burdensome kilos! Not only is it low in calories but, as we have seen, mint is a natural stimulant, and it dutifully stimulates those digestive enzymes that absorb nutrients from food into the bloodstream, and catabolize fat into energy that can be used by your body (40). The more mint leaves you eat, in other words, the more of your fat gets consumed and converted into fuel, instead of being stored as KGs in your body!
Bottom Line: Eating mint leaves will get you looking trim, taut and terrific!
9. Mint Leaves Improve Your Eyesight
Spearmint and peppermint leaves both contain generous quantities of vitamin C and vitamin A, which are known to contribute to improved vision (41), These elements also protect our delicate orbs from damage caused by roaming free radicals, which in turn prevents the occurrence of eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration (42). Mint is rich in vitamin A, especially: a half-cup of peppermint leaves provides 23 percent of the daily vitamin A requirement for men, and 18 percent for women; meanwhile, the same amount of spearmint leaves contains 62 percent of the male and 79 percent of the female requirement (43).
Bottom Line: mint leaves promote better vision, whilst preventing cataracts and macular degeneration.
10. Mint Leaves Have Anti-Cancer Properties
Here is another startling health benefit of this remarkable little herb: it prevents cancer! As we have seen, mint contains anti-oxidants, and science has repeatedly shown a connection between a diet rich fresh fruits and vegetables - which are packed full of antioxidants like vitamin C - and reduced likelihood of contracting various cancers (44).
In particular, mint may have a special role to play in preventing prostate cancer. Preclinical research shows that peppermint contains a compound called menthol which apparently slows and inhibits the growth of prostate cancer (45), (46).
Peppermint also contains a phytonutrient called monoterpene, which has been shown to stop the growth of pancreatic, liver and breast cancers in animal studies (human research awaits!). In addition, peppermint has a compound known as perillyl alcohol, which may halt the development and spread of cancer (Michael T. Murray and Joseph E. Pizzorno, authors of "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods"). Yet other enzymes found in mint may also help prevent and treat cancer (47).
Bottom Line: Mint leaves contain antioxidants and other compounds which may inhibit the growth of cancers. One study suggests the menthol in peppermint may retard the spread of prostate cancer.
11. Mint Leaves Are An Effective Anti-AllergenEach year, legions of people worldwide are afflicted by allergies such as hay fever (scientific name rhinitis) during certain months. In a 2001 preclinical study on rats, mint leaf extracts were found to have inhibited release of the chemical histamine, which is known to exacerbate symptoms of allergic rhinitis and other seasonal allergies (48). Mint also contains an anti-inflammatory agent called rosmarinic acid which has been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms of seasonal allergy symptoms (49).
Bottom Line: Mint leaves have been shown to be effective in addressing seasonal allergies like hay fever.
12. Mint Leaves Are Good For Your Respiratory SystemMint contains menthol, an excellent natural decongestant. Again it’s actually the aroma of the herb that’s responsible for breaking up phlegm and mucus in the lungs, bronchi, nose and throat, clearing up congestion and giving you relief from respiratory disorders associated with common cold and asthma (50). For example, a 2009 study found that inhaled essential oil of peppermint was able to alleviate inflammation resulting from tuberculous, with the authors of the study concluding: "This procedure may be used to prevent recurrences and exacerbation of pulmonary tuberculosis" (51).
Mint is also a good relaxant, and has a cooling effect which can help soothe sore throats, noses and other respiratory airways, and relieve the irritation associated with chronic coughing (52). Actually, it is for this reason that many balms contain mint - and why they tend to have greater effectiveness (and are more eco-friendly!) than aerosol-based inhalers.
Bottom Line: Mint is a natural decongestant, relaxant and coolant, and thus helps soothe the symptoms of respiratory disorders like common cold and asthma. One study also found it may be effective in treating tuberculosis.
13. Mint Leaves Improve Your MemoryHere's yet another example of how the mere smell of mint can improve your health! A study from 2006 reports that aromatherapy using peppermint leaves enhances the memory and increases alertness (53), (54). You can try this yourself at home: simply add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to your next bath. Or: boil up some shredded mint leaves in water and let the scent waft throughout your home. Even if it doesn't improve your memory, it will still leave the house smelling clean and refreshed!
Another recent study exploring the link between mint and cognitive function, discovered that those who regularly ate mint-flavored chewing gum, had significantly improved memory and alertness compared to those who did not (55). For the students among you, you’ve now actually got a good reason for bringing that stick of chewing gum with you into the classroom every lesson!
Bottom Line: The stimulating properties of mint leaves extend to stimulating your brain, leading to enhanced memory, alertness and cognitive function.
14. Mint Leaves Help You Fight Depression and Fatigue
As we have seen, mint is an excellent natural stimulant; the smell by itself can be sufficient to recharge the batteries and dust the cobwebs out of your brain (56). If you've been feeling depressed, anxious, or tired lately, then consuming some mint or its derivative oils might be just what the doctor ordered! (57) It can either be ingested, applied topically, or the vapor inhaled - all of those techniques can give you a quick and welcome energy boost! Or you can put a drop or two of menthol oil upon your pillow before going to bed, and let the mint work its magic upon your brain and body as you sleep (58).
Bottom Line: In the same vein as No. 13, mint leaves can help perk you up when you’re feeling tired and depressed.
15. Mint Leaves Improve The Functioning Of Your Nervous System
Adding copper to your diet helps you make phospholipids - a certain fat needed for healthy nerve function - and improves overall brain cell communication. And guess what? Spearmint leaves are also a good source of copper. A half-cup serving offers 12 percent of the daily copper needs for men and women (59).
Bottom Line: The copper in spearmint leaves helps improve the overall functioning of your nervous system.
16. Mint Leaves Help Support Your Immune SystemAs we have seen, mint contains vitamin A, one of the perks of which, so far as your body is concerned, is that it stimulates the creation and improves the functioning of white blood cells, the foundation of your immune system (60). One recent study found that consuming peppermint helped to inhibit the activity of acyclovir-resistant Herpes Simplex virus type 1 (61), (62).
Bottom Line: Mint leaves are also good for your immune system.
17. Mint Leaves Strengthen Your Bones
Spearmint is also a rich source of manganese, which helps your body synthesize certain proteins required for the healing of wounds, and also helps your bones maintain their proper strength. A half-cup serving of spearmint leaves provides 28 percent and 22 percent of the daily manganese requirements for women and men, respectively (63).
Bottom Line: The manganese in spearmint leaves helps keep your bones strong.
18. Mint Leaves Promote Good Oral Health
This is a long-known health benefit of magical mint. Because mint is a natural anti-microbial agent and breath freshener, it aids oral health and hygiene by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria inside the mouth (which makes your breath smell better!), whilst cleaning your tongue and whitening the teeth. In fact, this is the reason why people in the Middle Ages would rub mint leaves onto their gums and teeth! In the modern age, and for similar reasons, mint is a commonly-found element in toothpastes, flosses, mouthwashes, and the like. In fact, concentrated peppermint oil extract has been found to be superior to the mouthwash chemical chlorhexidine, in killing the germs that cause bad breath, along with the streptococcus driven biofilm that are associated with dental cavities (64), (65).
Bottom Line: Mint promotes good oral health, by killing off the bacteria that cause bad breath and dental cavities.
19. Mint Leaves Prevent Cell Damage Caused by Radiation
Preclinical studies indicate that peppermint protects you against radiation-induced DNA damage and cell death (66), (67). Good news for those of you who work in or around radiology and imaging, or the nuclear industry!
Bottom Line: consuming mint leaves prevents cell and DNA damage associated with exposure to radiation.
20. Mint Leaves Help To Halt HiccupsDrinking a glass of mint water is an old-fashioned (but effective!) home remedy for curing hiccups (68). Simply infuse a few sprigs of mint in a glass of water and drink up. Alternatively, you can try chewing on the leaves themselves. The reason mint helps suppress those hiccups is because of the menthol in it, which is thought to be effective in easing the muscle spasms in your digestive tract (69).
Bottom Line: Eating or drinking mint helps cure the hiccups.
21. Mint Leaves Prevent Breastfeeding Associated Nipple Pain and Damage
Here's one for the ladies. Despite the sublime phenomenon of a mother breastfeeding her newborn child, an unpleasant byproduct experienced by many women is pain and damage (cracks) to their nipples. A study published in 2007 found that drinking peppermint water may be effective in preventing nipple cracks and pain in first-time mothers who are breastfeeding (70).
Bottom Line: Mint leaves may save breastfeeding mothers from the painful, cracked nipples often associated with breastfeeding.
22. Mint Leaves Prevent Anemia
As we've seen already, spearmint supplies your body with quite a few essential nutrients: two more to add to the list are iron and folate. Both of these are required for the formation of healthy red blood cells, so that a surfeit of either results in anemia. A half-cup serving of spearmint leaves contains contains 30 percent and 68 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron for women and men, respectively, along with 12 percent of our daily folate needs (71). This is another good reason for pregnant women to get some mint into their diet, as anemia is extremely common among expectant mothers, with negative effects for both parent and child.
Bottom Line: the iron and folate in spearmint contributes to the formation of healthy red blood cells.
23. Mint Leaves May Reverse Female Sterility
Some research indicates that mint may be used to successfully treat sterility in females. Spearmint has been found to have significant antiandrogenic effects in subjects suffering polycystic ovarian syndrome (72), whilst also ameliorating the related condition of mild hirsutism, marked by excessive hair growth in females, and which is also associated with female sterility (73). But suffice to say, a great deal of further research must be done on the effects of mint on female sterility. In fact, some argue that due to the insecticidal and germicidal qualities of the herb, prolonged use may in fact facilitate female sterility, killing off a woman’s ova and lessening the chances of conception.
Bottom Line: Mint leaves may prevent conditions associated with female sterility, though more research is needed.
Make Mint A Part of Your Meals ...
There are obviously loads of ways you can reap the health benefits of this tantalising little herb, in fact you've probably tried a few already - whether it’s a comforting cup of herbal tea, or a hearty chicken salad spiced up with some chopped mint leaves. You can add mint leaves to home-brewed iced tea and lemonade, or work it into your next fruit salad. Whatever you do, remember that mint is a tender herb, with the leaves best used raw or added right at the end of cooking so as to preserve their delicate flavor and texture. When buying mint, also look for bright, unbruised leaves. Store it in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to a week at a time.
Here are some delicious recipes that incorporate mint, which allow you to get all the aforementioned health benefits while at the same time enjoying a variety of lip-smacking drinks, snacks and meals...
1. Limeade with Mint
This invigorating (though non-alcoholic!) concoction makes a perfect beverage for a hot summer's day. The inclusion of mint adds a delicate though refreshing flavour to a decidedly tangy drink. All you need to do is combine lime juice with water and lime zest, then garnish with several sprigs of fresh mint, and presto! you’re done. Make sure to include the lime zest for extra tanginess. Here's how to get the best results: make a simple syrup from sugar, water and grated lime zest, bringing to the boil in a small saucepan until all the sugar is dissolved. Strain out the lime zest using a sieve. Serve chilled.
2. Green Mojito (& Mint)
SmoothieSmoothies share with mint the trait of versatility: you can drink them at breakfast to help get the day off on the right foot, or they are just as welcome throughout the day, whether as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or as part of your post-workout recovery drink. A lot of modern blenders come with to-go cups, so you can toss your pre-blended smoothies into your bag as you head out the door in the morning.
This recipe combines both. Blend coconut water, mint, pineapple, lime, avocado and robust kale and you're done. Add in some grated ginger to give it some extra 'zing'. Chock full of nutrients from the mint, kale and avocado, this POWER drink aptly has a brilliant green colour. The Green Mojito and Mint Smoothie is another one best served chilled; if you want to drink immediately throw in some ice cubes before blending.
3. Cucumber Salad With Mint and Feta
This cucumber salad with mint and feta makes a perfect side dish, or a refreshing mid-afternoon snack on a warm day. Spicy, refreshing mint enhances the cooling effect of fresh cucumber. Simply toss sliced cucumbers together with radishes, red onion and mint leaves. Sprinkle with a simple dressing made from vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil; then right before serving add feta cheese, crumbled.
4. Greek Lamb Kebabs with Yoghurt and Lemon Mint Sauce
Get a double dose of mint magic by making your salad the entree to this dish of lamb kebabs. Dunk pieces of lamb in your very own, homemade marinade of olive oil, garlic and red wine vinegar. Once marinated, thread onto rosemary sprigs and grill on the barbeque. Serve with the equally delicious sauce made from Greek yoghurt, lemon juice, mint, parsley, oregano, garlic, capers and anchovy also mentioned in the recipe. Bon appetit!
5. Basil Mint Pesto
This mint pesto recipe is easy to make and goes well as a topping with any number of savory dishes - chicken, pasta, you name it. Blend toasted walnuts with mint leaves, basil, sunflower seeds, lemon juice and garlic. Use it straight away or refrigerate in airtight containers for later. Make extra large batches and you'll have enough pesto for months to come! Its yet another way to make mint a regular part of your diet, thereby reaping those many mint health benefits.
6. Mint Julep
This is another recipe for a minty drink, this one for those of you who like your grog! This mint julep makes for a feisty shot to enjoy with friends at your next cocktail party. Prepare an infusion of mint, dissolved caster sugar and water, then stir through Gentleman Jack whiskey. Serve chilled or topped with ice. You can actually save some of the mint and use it to make minted ice cubes, too. Toss them in a punch bowl and top with the whiskey concoction; garnish with lemon wedges, and serve.
7. Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Here's some good news! There are many ways you can make mint a part of your desserts as well. This is one such recipe. This homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream leaves the store-bought varieties for dead! Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, vanilla, dissolved sugar and salt; add freshly bruised mint leaves and let them infuse the mixture. Strain out the mint, and whisk and cook the mixture again, until it forms a custard. Freeze in an ice cream maker, adding in dark chocolate (chopped into chunks and flakes) while you’re at it. Freeze again before serving. You’ll find that this ice-cream has a much more delicate, fragrant flavor than the ultra-sweet variety you buy in the store.
8. After Dinner Chocolate Mints
You chocoholics will be in heaven with these after dinner chocolate mints! They make a simple yet oh so delicious dessert option. Plus they allow you to get some healthy mint in your diet AND contain far less sugar than most after dinner mint morsels. Simply take some fresh mint leaves and run them through a dish of melted chocolate until both sides are covered. Place on baking paper, or in the refrigerator, and allow them to set.
9. Fresh Fruit With Mint Salad
Mint plays well with fruit too. Bring a touch of the tropics into your kitchen today with this fruit and mint salad recipe. Chop your trusty mint leaves into tiny pieces and toss together with sliced mangos, kiwis, oranges, strawberries and a banana for good measure. Stir through honey and the citrus juice from the oranges. Add mixed berries, and serve with cream. This dish gives you another dessert option incorporating mint; but you can also have it as a refreshing snack throughout the day. Make sure to invite your friends over to share: to get them through the door, photograph and put it on Snapchat, as this dish is a feast for the eyes alone!
10. Mint Tea
This ultra-refreshing mint tea makes a comforting, herbal drink for the evenings. Simply infuse boiling water with tea, mint leaves and sugar. Strain, and serve with mint sprigs.
11. Chocolate Mint Brownie Sauce
To round things out, we've got yet another chocolatey treat for those of you whose sweet tooth is insatiable: luscious homemade brownies topped with an equally homemade mint brownie sauce. For the brownies, beat together butter, eggs, caster sugar, chocolate sauce, vanilla, flour, and chocolate mixture. Spread the mixture into a pan and bake in the oven. Meanwhile, mix together the mint layer from icing sugar, melted butter and creme de menthe liqueur. Spread over the cooled brownies, then top with a layer of mixture of chocolate blended with melted butter. Enjoy!
Marvellous mint is a truly versatile little herb. In addition to its many other uses - as a flavoring agent, in cosmetics, medicines, inhalers and breath fresheners - the leaves also provide many fantastic health benefits, ranging from curing indigestion to preventing cancer. And with its invigorating, spicy taste and aromatic fragrance, it will make a friendly presence in your kitchen too. It's super easy to grow in your own garden (or even in small pots on the windowsill), so head down to your local nursery and collect some seeds or seedlings; pick out a few different varieties and see which ones you like the most. Be warned though: mint grows very rapidly, so you could well end up with more than you know what to do with!
Making mint a part of your diet lets you improve your health and at the same time adds some extra zing to your drinks, desserts and meals. Once you've had that first mouthful of mint, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it!
Ever wondered what’s the best milk alternative ?
While less than 5% of the UK population is affected, up to 50% of the populations of South America, Africa and Asia suffer from it.
With lactose intolerance (or dairy intolerance) becoming more and more of a common problem, many people are turning to alternative milks. These vary in levels of nutrition, colour, flavor and texture.
Most alternative milks are now fortified with calcium (which helps build strong bones and teeth, and ensures that blood clots normally) and vitamin D (which is important for encouraging the absorption of calcium from food) so they have many of the benefits of normal milk.
1. Almond Milk
Made from ground almonds, water and in most cases it is sweetened. Almond milk has a bland, flavor and is one of the healthiest powerfoods among foods. It is rich in antioxidants including anti-ageing vitamin E, which fights off free-radicals. The fats in almond milk are healthy omega-6 fats and not saturated fats, which have been shown to have a negative effect on cholesterol as well as on the heart.
It is a great weight-loss aid as it only contains 30 calories per serving.
Almond milk’s negative is that it contains far less protein than dairy milk or soy milk.
2. Soy Milk
Soy milk is very common among vegan, vegetarian and health-conscious bodybuilders. It is best to choose a soy milk that is GMO free and made from organic edamame. Soy milk provides more protein than a regular glass of milk as well as a good amount of calcium, manganese, magnesium, choline, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, selenium and potassium.
Soy milk also resembles the taste of cow’ milk more so than other alternative milk.
Certainly, people with soy allergies and hypothyroidism must stay away from soy milk. Hypothyroidism is generally treated with synthetic thyroid hormone — and soy has long been thought to interfere with the body's ability to absorb the medication. However, there's no evidence that people who have hypothyroidism should avoid soy completely. It has also been shown to negatively impact male fertility.
3. Hazelnut Milk
Hazelnut is the new “in” alternative milk, especially in Californian coffee houses where they’ve added it to their own coffees since it tastes much better with coffee than conventional cow’s milk.
The hazelnut has a wonderful aroma, tastes absolutely heavenly, and it has supreme nutrition over a number of other vegan milk alternatives. It is a good source of calcium, vitamins E, B1, B2 and B6 which are all essential in blood formation and mental health and the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which has been proven to help keep cholesterol and blood pressure under control.
4. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk most resembles the texture of dairy milk. It is made from the exotic coconut fruit and has become a staple in the kitchens of vegans, the health conscious and people who avoid dairy. It is rich in essential minerals, including manganese, selenium, copper, zinc and iron. Coconut milk has far more potassium per cup than dairy milk and also higher in fat content than other alternative milks.
5. Rice Milk
Rice milk is one of the more popular alternative milks. It is made from boiled rice and brown rice syrup, making it healthy blend of carbohydrates and protein with very little fat per serving unlike the other nut and seed milk alternatives. It is also one of the cheaper alternative milks.
This alternative milk is the most hypoallergenic alternative as it is free from soy, gluten, nuts and seeds, which is important for those who are allergic and cannot tolerate these ingredients.
Rice milk is not ideal if you are trying to lose weight as it is high in carbohydrates and low in calcium and protein compared to cow’s milk. It is also not a good milk to be used in baking or cooking as it is thin and watery.
All in all rice is a great alternative milk to start with for anyone trying to find a healthy alternative milk product.
6. Flax Milk
Flax milk is sweet, a little thin yet quite creamy and delicious. Flax milk is high in alpha linoleic acids which are a group of Omega-3 fatty acids which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.
Most flax seed milk is produced by organic, ethically responsible companies that use non-GMO flaxseeds.
Flax milk is low in protein and also tends to be heavily sweetened, so choose brands with less sugar in them. Flax milks are fortified with calcium, so it is good for those who tend to need adequate levels of this mineral.
7. Hemp Milk
Hemp is an incredibly healthy choice know for it’s “earthy” flavor. It contains ten essential amino acids, making it an excellent choice for vegan athletes, body builders or others who need to refuel and build muscle. Hemp milk also contains a very ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, and also contains a good deal of thiamin, niacin, calcium, fiber, potassium, etc. A great choice for the health-conscious person, hemp milk is a great way to get all of your essential vitamins and minerals. It is also a good choice for those avoiding or have allergies to gluten, nuts or soy.
Beware of added sugars as the store bought varieties may have more sugar added than is thought healthy ! You can also attempt to make your own if need be. Hemp milk is a great way to get all of your essential vitamins and minerals making it a great choice for the health-conscious person.
8. Oat Milk
Oat milk is one of the nutritious milks made from oat groats. Oats have been shown to reduce “bad” cholesterol while raising “good” cholesterol levels. It provides about 4-5g of plant protein per serving. Many oat milks are also fortified with vitamin D making it a sensible alternative to dairy milks.
There are only two categories of foods: whole foods and processed foods.
A healthy balanced diet should be primarily whole foods with restricted consumption of processed foods. There are numerous ways to differentiate between these two.
Processed food that's organic is still processed food !
If a food comes out of a box and is labeled organic, it means it's healthier only in that it was minimally produced without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation. And you can feel good that workers, animals, and the environment were all treated better in the process.
However, it might not be nutritionally better for you!
Generally speaking, processed foods are produced using manufacturing methods to transform raw ingredients into neatly packaged goods, which have a longer shelf life. Some of the artificial ingredients used include monosodium glutamate (MSG), flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated oil, fillers, and artificial sweeteners. Usually, consumers can prepare them quickly allowing immediate intake.
Disappointingly, they don’t offer much in nutritional value. Most likely, it's processed food if it's wrapped in several layers of plastic, cardboard, and/or foil, and it didn't exist until after 1903 when the hydrogenation process was invented. In addition to being excessively advertised, this food category is well funded by government subsidies. These foodstuffs are located on the shelves of the inside middle aisles in grocery stores. Examples of processed foods include sugary drinks including juices, cereals, and crackers, rice cakes, cakes, biscuits.
On the other hand, whole foods are grown in orchards, gardens, or greenhouses, are unprocessed and unrefined, and have a shorter shelf life. These foods are authentically flavorful, have vibrant colors, and rich textures. Moreover, they are full of the micronutrient vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber. Typically, they require longer preparation times. In contrast, they receive very little media advertising, and are not well funded with government subsidies. When you are in grocery stores, these foods are mainly found on the store’s wall aisles to the sides and back of the store. Additionally, this food category can be found at farmers markets, and at fresh fruit and vegetable stands. Examples of whole foods include unpolished grains, fruits, and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
The easiest way to swop your snacks to whole foods is to just add in fresh, raw fruit and vegetables as snacks such as apples, pears, carrot, cucumbers and pepper sticks with a tablespoon of humus or tahini, nuts and seeds with dried fruits, or even making your own health bars, energy balls, truffles, using wholesome ingredients conventional or organic.
Another all time favourite healthy snack made from fresh, raw, ingredients are smoothies. You can make them with fruits or veggies, add in some goat’s / sheep’s yogurt, tahini, alternative milks, goat’s milk, superfoods / powerfoods (spirulina, moringa, bee pollen, maca, carob powder, aloe vera, chia, hemp, acai etc..) and leafy greens like kale, spinach, parsley, coriander.
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !