The wonderful benefits of Mentha
By Meera Uberoi
What makes it a legend? Mint is an aromatic herb with more than 600 varieties native to the temperate regions of Asia, Africa and Europe. The bright green leaves of mint occupied pride of place in the kitchens of ancient Rome. Historically, the pennyroyal, a pungent mint with bright shiny leaves, was used to purify drinking water on sea voyages. All species of mint are aromatic, with a French variety that smells like bananas!
What medicine says? Mint is a cooling and warming herb. It is rich in essential oils which gives it the distinctive smell and taste. It is anti-bacterial, relaxes spasms, reduces inflammation and helps digestion. Peppermint’s punch resides in its oil, which contains menthol, flavonoids and Vitamins A and C. Concentrated in the leaves, peppermint oil stimulates the gall bladder to secrete bile, which can promote digestion. All parts of the plant are used. Rubbing the face and hands with fresh peppermint leaves repels flies and other insects.
Mint is known to subtly work as a spirit motivator. Researches at the Wheeling Jesuit University, US found that the scent of peppermint influences mood and motivation and offers a mental boost that leads to better performance!
Cucumber and Mint Dip
250 g curd set from skimmed milk
1 medium cucumber, peeled
25-30 fresh mint leaves
6-8 peppercorns, crushed finely
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Whip curd in a bowl till smooth. Mince cucumber and chop the mint leaves fine. Add to the curd along with the other ingredients and mix well. Serve with celery, carrot sticks or pita bread. To give it a different touch, you can add a quarter teaspoon of freshly ground mustard with a pinch of ground rock salt.
NUTRITIONAL INFO PER SERVING
122 Kcal, 9.5 g pro, 19.2 g carb, 0.7 g fat, 0.2 g sat fat, 5 mg chol, 1.9 g fibre, 133 mg sodium