Mint isn't just for March. I know it's a popular ingredient when it comes to celebrating St. Patrick's Day, but I particularly enjoy mint in the warmer months of summer. It is so refreshing and can add a delicious flavor to many favorites without adding a ton of sweetener.
Hopefully that got your attention because I want to share with you a couple of other health tips when it comes to fresh mint. One huge benefit is that mint can actually help with seasonal allergy symptoms. Mint contains a type of flavonoid called luteolin-7-O-rutinoside. This flavonoid can help inhibit the activity and secretion of anti-inflammatory enzymes, such as histamines, and greatly reduce the uncomfortable symptoms that comes along them. Mint also contains high levels of rosmarinic acid, an antioxidant that quenches free radicals and reduces allergy symptoms by inhibiting COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. COX-1 and COX-2 are enzymes that produce inflammation. I don't know about you, but when I learn of something simple such as an herb or spice that fights inflammation, I'm all about it. I've seen turmeric work wonders in my own life, so why not add mint leaves into the mix?
Okay, so obviously mint helps fight inflammation. But it has a few other tricks up its sleeve. Mint leaves are widely used as a digestive aid. So if you struggle with IBS, mint leaves could offer you some relief. Mint relaxes the lining of the digestive tract which can relieve gas, bloating, and cramping. When it comes to the common cold or asthma, the strong aroma of mint is very effective in clearing up congestion of the nose, throat, bronchi and lungs.
For those who suffer from fatigue or depression, try adding mint into your daily routine. Mint is a natural stimulant. The smell alone can be enough to charge your batteries and get your brain functioning on a high level again. If you are feeling sluggish, anxious, depressed, or simply exhausted, mint can help alleviate those symptoms. And if you are looking to shed a few pounds, mint is a stimulant to the digestive enzymes that absorb nutrients from food as well as fat, and turns it into energy. Therefore, by adding mint to your diet, you are increasing the amount of fat that your body will actually use, rather than being stored and contributing to weight gain.
The last thing I will mention is that mint is great for oral health. Not only does it freshen breath, but it inhibits harmful bacterial growth in the mouth by cleaning the tongue and teeth. Of course that is why mint is one of the top ingredients used in toothpaste, mouthwash, and other dental hygiene products.
So on top of all of that, mint tastes incredibly delicious! Like I said, mint isn't just for March. It's for anytime! Another neat thing about it is you can incorporate mint into many things such as smoothies, drinks, brownies, cookies, cakes, ice cream, salads, main course entrées, and the list goes on. This milkshake recipe is an easy one to start with. You can leave out the matcha tea powder if you don't have any on hand or just prefer not to use it. But in case you are curious about matcha and its health benefits, check out my post on matcha mint bliss balls.
!/2 cup milk of choice (I use coconut milk. Homemade, or canned- light or full fat)
1 frozen banana
1 cup of ice (adjust to thickness preference)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup packed spinach (optional but adds nice color and nutrients)
1 tsp organic matcha green tea powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 tsp peppermint extract (adjust to your minty preference)
optional: 1/4 cup cashews or cashew butter (adds a nice creaminess)
1. Place all of the ingredients into your high speed blender and blend until smooth. Adjust your milk or ice as needed until your desired consistency is reached.
2. Pour into a glass and top with coconut whipped cream and cacao nibs. Serves 1.