25 Interesting Mint Facts! All About Its Health Benefits | Kidadl


25 Interesting Mint Facts! All About Its Health Benefits

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Mint is a member of the Lamiaceae (mint) and is native to the Mediterranean and North Africa.

It's used as both an ornamental plant and as a herb for its aromatic leaves. The species of the mint genus known as Mentha are, by far, the most important of those being Mints aquatica, also known as water mint, and the chief source of the essential oil known as mint oil.

The popularity of both these plants and their derived products is due to many factors, one being their long history in folk medicine. We have used mint from everything from an insect repellant to a cure for upset stomachs, headaches, cold symptoms, arthritis pain, toothaches, and even the plague. The genus name Mentha is derived from a Greek word that means 'mint.' Mint is in the family Lamiaceae, which also includes basil, oregano, rosemary, and lavender. Like many members of that family, mint contains volatile oils that are responsible for its distinctive smell and taste.

The origin of peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) is uncertain. The English botanist John Ray (1628–1705) discovered it in 1696. Mint has been used for centuries to add flavor to food and drinks, from peppermint to spearmint. Peppermint is the most popular variety of mint for adding to food, but peppermint is a hybrid of water mint and spearmint. The fruit of the mint plant is called 'nutley,' and it has one to four seeds. Mint and nettles are different from each other but have similar leaves, which might confuse one in identifying the plant species. Mentha is the other name for the mint leaves. Dried mint leaves turn a little pale, while fresh mint leaves are a bright green color. Chewing gum is also available in these flavors. In India, both fresh mint along with dried mint are used as herbs in different foods. Generally, fresh mint is preferred over dried mint for its flavor and aroma. Mint is also used in many breath fresheners as this herb kills many bacteria.

Classification Of Mint As A Plant

Mint is part of the Lamiaceae family, which also includes lemon balm and basil. There are around 25 different species in this genus, and all of these species can be referred to as mint.

  • Mint belongs to the genus Mentha and tribe Mentheae. They are from the subfamily Nepetoideae and the order Lamiales. The scientific name of the mint plant is Mentha spicata.
  • The leaves of mint are widely used for culinary purposes because of their peculiar aroma and flavor. It is mainly used in making sauces, beverages, candies, and toothpaste.
  • There's another reason for using mint leaves other than flavor; it can help with indigestion. The juice of this plant is also used as medicine.
  • Plants are classified based on their characteristics and habitats. Mints are perennial plants that grow throughout the year under suitable environmental conditions. They generally prefer light, well-drained soils.
  • If you want mint for flavoring in your cooking, make sure you plant the correct varieties. Mint comes in many varieties, but spearmint and peppermint are the most common types used in cooking foods. You can even grow chocolate mint, which has a delicious smell!
  • Chewing gum varieties are also available in flavors such as orange mint, apple mint, and spearmint.
  • Mint is a breath freshener and a herb, and fresh mint is a rich source of vitamin C and A, along with vitamin B2. They are also used in foods such as desserts, such as classic mint chocolate brownies using fresh mint.
  • Dried mint is actually used in many dishes as an herb. Mint tea made of mint leaves has many health benefits.

Growth And Habitat Requirements Of Mint

The species of mint that is the most difficult to control in turf situations is Mentha x piperita, peppermint.

  • Mentha spicata prefers full sun, although it will perform well in partial shade. Too much shade results in weak growth and less vigorous oil production; too little shading results in strong growth, which produces very few flowers and fruit (although many such plants will also continue growing vegetatively).
  • Mint also requires ample moisture, either from rainfall or irrigation to create the best use of the herb.
  • Mentha x Piperita is a mint species that likes shade and does best in cool climates but can tolerate a fair amount of sun if it is watered regularly. In shade, the plant becomes dark green and luxuriant with abundant foliage growth; in the sun, the foliage turns yellows and becomes sparse.
  • Mentha x Piperita prefers moist soils but is not fussy about the type of soil provided that these are well-drained.
  • Mint does well in light or heavy soils and can grow in sand along the seashore as easily as it can in loam.
  • Among the mints, Mentha x piperita is considered the most difficult to control; all other mints, including Mentha requienii and Mentha spicata, are easier to control.
  • Attempts have been made at controlling this species with a variety of pre-emergence materials applied alone, in combination with one another, and with post-emergence herbicides. No pre-emergence materials have been found to provide a completely adequate level of control over peppermint.
The leaves of fresh mint are of dark green color and are made used to make mint oil.

Health Benefits Of Mint

The mint plant is the common name for plants in the family Lamiaceae. This family includes more than 25 genera, with about 1500 species. It's used in chewing gum, candies, and different desserts.

  • All are indigenous to Asia, Europe, and Africa, but only a few are used as spices. Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and spearmint (Mentha spicata) are the two most commonly used for their distinctive aromatic and herbal properties. Mint has been traditionally used to treat indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and flatulence. Mint is now widely available in tablet form as it is in the herb category.
  • Peppermint is an approved treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). There is some evidence that peppermint reduces the pain and bloating of IBS, but it does not seem to provide any relief from the other symptoms. Mint leaves contain flavonoids and phenolic compounds such as rosmarinic acid or caffeic acid, which can be used as antioxidant agents.
  • The essential oil contains menthol, an analgesic compound that stimulates cold-sensitive receptors in the skin and mucous membranes, producing a cooling sensation. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is commonly added to peppermint tea preparations because of its synergistic effect on mint's bioactive components.
  • In addition, rosemary has been found to possess antimicrobial activity against several bacteria species, including food-borne pathogens and potential human pathogens, such as Escherichia coli O157: H7.
  • Other mint-containing products include mouthwashes and toothpaste, which contain either the essential oil or extracted oils from the leaves.
  • Recent studies have shown that spearmint mouthwash can reduce oral bacteria (namely Streptococcus mutans) and the amount of plaque formed. The antibacterial activity of mint leaf preparations was first reported in 1928 by one of the mint growers, who showed that the maceration of leaves in white wine reduced the growth of food spoilage organisms.
  • Spearmint oil, peppermint oil, and menthol are well known for their antimicrobial activity.
  • Several in vitro studies have shown that mint extracts are effective against a wide range of bacteria, including Helicobacter pylori, which is responsible for stomach ulcers. This effect has been attributed to the action of menthol and carvacrol. We can also use mint oil as an insect repellent.

How to take care of mint plants?

Mint is a very hearty herb that can be used as a groundcover or even as a nice decoration for your garden. If you have a green thumb, you will love this plant.

  • They're easy to grow and can survive on their own with little care from the owner. Mint needs well-drained soil to survive. If your soil is mostly clay, you can plant the mint in a container or in some areas of your yard where the clay won't hurt anything. You can also amend clay soil with compost or sand to make it better for growing plants.
  • It usually comes back every year, even if you didn't plant it. Mint is easy to grow, but there are certain things they dislike. They don't like wet feet. If they sit in water for too long, they will die. So you want good drainage when growing mint plants. They also become invasive if not pruned. If you want to grow mint in a pot or on the ground, there are some things you should know.
  • Mint is not picky with soil, but it needs well-drained soil. You can also amend clay soil with compost or sand to make it better for growing plants. If you are growing mint in a container, the size of the pot is not very important at first, but it does matter when you get to harvest time.
  • Mint hates being moved, so if you find one plant that is growing well, it's probably best to leave it alone and let it be. Mint doesn't need much water or weeding once established. Watering should be done periodically, but not too often. It also prefers partial shade to full sunlight. Be careful when growing mint plants because they can easily escape their boundaries, which results in them being invasive. It's best to keep them contained or planted somewhere where they won't overrun other plants or a sidewalk.
Kidadl Team
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Kidadl Team

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