Spearmint Leaves

Spearmint Leaves

Spearmint leaves are largely used to flavor drinks and food. Other than that, the candies made of these leaves are also popular since a very long time. Leaf through the following HolisticZine article to grasp the benefits of these mint leaves.
HolisticZine Staff
Spearmint is probably the most popular mint used for cooking. It belongs to a plant of the mint family, whose uses have been known since ancient times. Legend has it that there was a beautiful nymph named Mentha, who caught Pluto's attention. Pluto's wife was enraged at her husband's interest in the nymph. She crushed Mentha under her foot. Pluto could not save Mentha, however, changed her into this delightfully aromatic plant - the spearmint plant. It is the scent of the spearmint leaves that have made this herb an important member of the kitchen.

What are Spearmint Leaves?

Spearmint leaves can be the natural, edible ones or the sweet, sugary, candied ones. Whatever the form, its uses are many. While the natural leaves of spearmint are used in cooking and are also known to have many health benefits, the spearmint candies are jellied candies that are coated with sugar and shaped like spearmint leaves.

The natural leaves are obtained from the spearmint herb. Its scientific name is Mentha spicata. This herb of the mint family is a native of Europe and West Asia. However, it can grow in almost any climate. The spearmint plant grows 24 to 30 inches tall with thin, hairless or hairy stem. It has bright green leaves and small lavender colored flowers.

Uses

Spearmint leaves are edible, both in cooked as well as uncooked forms. They can be chewed raw to keep mouth fresh. The leaves were used as medicines and also in cooking, by the ancient Romans. It is the flavor that makes these leaves one of the most widely used ingredients all over the world. Natural leaves are still very commonly used in cooking. They tend to bring out the flavor in a dish. The leaves are most commonly used in cooking lamb, duck, chicken, and pork. They also make a delicious addition to fruit salads. Spearmint leaves are popularly used in making mint jelly and mint sauce that, is traditionally served with roasted lamb or mutton dishes. Other uses of the leaves, include, flavoring toothpaste and confectionery. The leaves are often added to soaps and shampoos. To have the maximum effect of the flavor and the scent, it is best to pluck the leaves before the plant flowers, as the leaves lose their aroma with the flowering of the plant.

Besides cooking, spearmint leaves are also used to flavor beverages. Most of us like the flavor of mint in our glass of iced tea in summer afternoons. Dried leaves of spearmint are used to make tea. And who doesn't like the fresh, minty flavor of mojito, the Cuban drink that is renowned for its generous use of fresh these leaves?

Health Benefits
  • Spearmint leaves are common herbal remedies for headaches, fevers and problems of the digestive system, like, excess gas formation and stomach ache. This health benefit can be obtained by drinking spearmint tea.
  • The leaves prevent vomiting and are effective in inducing urination.
  • Another benefit of the tea is that, it helps pregnant women deal with morning sickness.
  • Research has shown that the leaves are useful in treating hirsutism in women. In this condition, there is excess growth of hair on certain parts of the body, commonly on the face and breasts due hormonal imbalance.
  • The essential oil extracted from the leaves has antiseptic properties. However, the amount of this oil inside the body must be regulated.
  • These leaves improve metabolism and help us to burn extra fat.
  • They are useful in treating bad breath and prevent gum diseases.
  • The leaves are found to have been effective against respiratory and glandular problems.
  • The leaves are anti-parasitic and are useful in treating colic.
Spearmint leaves benefits are many and from centuries, human beings have been using the leaves to either flavor their food or to treat numerous ailments.