7 Mint Benefits That Prove You Shouldn’t Sleep on This Powerful Herb

It’s refreshing, tasty, and packed with nutritional benefits.

<p>Liliya Krueger/Getty Images</p>

Liliya Krueger/Getty Images

As a popular household herb, mint is actually an umbrella term for several plant varieties in the Mentha family, including peppermint, spearmint, and apple mint. While most well known for its refreshing flavor and its ability to freshen breath, many may not realize that mint actually benefits our health in a plethora of ways. This might be why this international food staple has historical ties dating back thousands of years.

Let’s learn what experts and the research has to say about how mint benefits our health, as well as the best ways to use it at home.

Related: Top 5 Health Benefits of Lemon: Immunity, Skin Health, and More

The Nutritional Profile of Mint

First, let’s take a look at the nutritional profile of mint, per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food database:

Fresh Peppermint (¼ cup)

4 calories
0 grams (g)
Total Carbohydrates:
0.5 g
0.25 g
0 g

Vitamin A:
136 International Units (IU), 15 percent of Daily Value (DV)*
0.04 mg, 2% DV
0.2 mg, 1% DV
3.7 mg, 1% DV

*Daily Value is based on the average adult needs for males and females without pre-existing conditions per the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The 7 Top Health Benefits of Mint

As you can see, peppermint leaves aren’t particularly robust in any macro or micronutrients, with the exception of vitamin A. However, the majority of mint’s health benefits come from its plant compound and essential oil content, including flavonoids, menthol, and terpenes. 

This unique nutritional breakdown lends this floral herb to quite a few evidence-based health benefits, here are some of the most impressive ones:

Boosts Immune Health

“Polyphenols and flavonoids are two well-studied groups of plant compounds that are found in mint, along with many other antioxidants, keeping cells healthy and disease-free,” says Rhyan Geiger, RDN, Owner of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian. “Antioxidants help protect cells against free radicals or unstable molecules that cause damage,” she adds. These bioactive compounds also help to reduce inflammation, further boosting the immune system. Research has even found mint to exhibit anticancer activity.

Supports Oral Health

There’s good reason behind mint’s inclusion in a myriad of oral care products, from toothpaste and mouthwash to gum and breath mints. It not only freshens breath, but peppermint oil also boasts antibacterial, antifungal, and antibiofilm properties to prevent or help treat a range of oral health concerns. These benefits well justify the frequent use of this popular herb in modern day dentistry.

Related: Your Mouth Has a Microbiome, Too—Here Are 5 Ways to Take Care of It for Better Overall Health

Encourages Better Eye Health

As a good source of vitamin A, mint can promote better eye health, too. This fat-soluble vitamin plays an integral role in several systems required for optimal eye function. Vitamin A also helps to keep certain eye diseases, like macular degeneration, at bay.

Champions Brain and Sleep Health

Emerging research has even found mint to positively benefit several aspects of brain health and sleep, again likely due to its bioactive compound content. A 2018 randomized control trial discovered peppermint to improve cognitive function and decrease mental fatigue. Meanwhile, a 2021 study of university students found peppermint intake to improve memory and sleep quality, while reducing signs of stress and anxiety. Additionally, a 2020 study tied peppermint aromatherapy to better sleep quality in cancer patients.

Promotes Gut Health

Mint, especially peppermint, has also been linked to improved gut health as a smooth muscle relaxant for the entirety of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This bodes well for almost any GI concern that you might have, from gas and bloat to constipation and diarrhea. Additionally, research has found this herb to be particularly beneficial for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms.

Aids Heart and Metabolic Health

“Because mint is high in antioxidants, it can help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes,” explains Geiger. This is thanks to the free radical-fighting power of the compounds found in mint, as well as their ability to target inflammation in the body, both of which are major contributors to these serious conditions.

Supports Respiratory and Sinus Health

And finally, mint can encourage better respiratory and sinus health. This is, in part, due to mint’s antibacterial and antiviral properties, helping to target the cause of any respiratory or sinus irritation or infection. In fact, mint was even found to be effective against COVID-19. But peppermint also acts as an expectorant, which helps to break up mucus and phlegm to lessen coughs. Plus, mint has been known to soothe sore throats and alleviate pain throughout the body—other common concerns associated with chest and sinus issues.

How Much Mint Should You Have Everyday?

While much of this research has been conducted on peppermint, the bioactive compound content and nutritional profiles across all mint varieties are largely the same, peppermint just happens to be the most mainstream and abundantly produced.

But how much should we aim to consume on a daily basis to reap all the health benefits of this herb? While there’s no official recommendation, mint can safely be enjoyed on a daily basis. You’re far more likely to get sick of this breath mint addition before overdoing it given its bright, pungent flavor. “A little bit goes a long way,” Geiger emphasizes.

Even if you enjoyed a few cups of mint tea, a recipe containing mint, and some mint aromatherapy all on the same day, there’s no concern of adverse effects. On the other side of the coin, if you only consume mint a few times per week, you’ll still reap some benefits.

Ways to Use Mint at Home

Thankfully, there’s no shortage of ways to utilize this ubiquitous herb at home. One of the most popular of which is mint tea made from a few tablespoons of fresh or dried mint added to boiling water. While this is easy to whip up on your own at home, bagged mint tea can also be purchased at most grocery stores nationwide.

Related: The 10 Healthiest Teas to Drink on a Daily Basis

There are plenty of culinary applications for this invigorating herb, too. “Add mint to a watermelon cucumber salad, smoothies, infused water, or even pesto,” offers Geiger. Mint can also be a delicious addition to marinades, soups, baked goods, and even breading for proteins.

Additionally, some folks chew whole fresh mint leaves as a natural alternative to gum or breath mints, while others opt for mint essential oil aromatherapy or topical application. If you use mint essential oil on your skin, however, be sure to dilute it in a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba to prevent irritation.

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, mint is an all-around MVP in both health benefits and taste. Sure, it freshens breath and adds yummy flavor to a multitude of recipes, but research has shown that it can also boost our overall health from multiple angles. So, whether you opt to pick up fresh mint (or mint-containing products) at the grocery store or grow it at home this summer, this herb is well-worth the investment.

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