Mint Leaves are essential ingredients in Asian cooking and were initially introduced in Thailand by the Vietnamese who had been using a tropical variety of spearmint for many years after discovering the wonderful herb in the Mediterranean region of Europe where it was believed to have first originated. Mint then spreads rapidly throughout the rest of the world and subsequently grew ever so popular in Asia where many types now grow.
European Mint has a sharp stimulating aroma, but the Asian variety is much more strongly flavoured with a slightly sweet taste imparting a rather cool aftertaste. The spearmint variety has oval grey-green leaves and a fresh flavour that is enjoyed in delicious rice paper spring rolls and many salads. Mint is also used as an ingredient in soups and other highly spiced dishes.
When preparing mint for your recipe, first wash the leaves on their stems under some cold water, then shake off the excess moisture and pat dry using paper towels. To store, wrap loosely in paper towels and keep in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator or stand the stems in a jug of cold water and cover with a lid and place in the door of the refrigerator.
Besides the fact that mint and mint leaves are natural mouth and breath fresheners, they also have many nutritional and medicinal health benefits.
1) Mint helps to improve digestion by settling and soothing the digestive tract. It also helps by reducing the length and severity of stomach aches.
2) Mint has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties to help ease the discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
3) It is believed that the regular use of mint has anti-fungal properties thought to play an important role in the treatment of asthma as it acts as a relaxant and will give some relief in cases of congestion. Be careful however not to over indulge as this could cause some irritation as well.
4) The strong scent of mint products including mint leaves are extremely effective in assisting respiratory disorders caused by congestion in the nose, throat, bronchi and lungs. Its cool and soothing effect gives immediate relief in cases of coughs too. Mint based inhalers are often more effective and Eco-friendly than those based on other aerosols.
5) Mint contains perillyl alcohol a phytonnutrient which is believed to help in the prevention of some cancers such as colon, lung and skin cancer.
6) Mint is an excellent quick and easy remedy for combating nausea by either simply inhaling the strong and refreshing aroma of a few crushed leaves or the essence of mint oil. Nausea can be a common occurrence when touring in hot climatic conditions so as a travel precaution, always keep some menthol flavoured products handy.
7) Mint is an excellent remedy for combating mild headaches. Get quick relief by rubbing mint oil or a mint balm based product on your forehead or on and around your nose.
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