Mint leaves also known as pudina or mint derived from the Greek word Mintha is a genus of flowering plants from the Lamiaceae family. The most common and popular mints are the peppermint (Mentha piperita) and spearmint (Mentha spicata) and recently known for apple mint (Mentha suaveolens).
Mint is also known as hierbabuena (means good herb) in Central and South America. In Lusophone countries, especially the Portugal mint are popularly known as Hortela and in Indo Aryan languages it is known as Pudina. The Lamiaceae is known as the mint family and includes many other aromatic herbs including most of the more common cooking herbs like the basil, rosemary, sage, oregano and catnip.
Any small mint flavored candy or sweet dish is called a mint in English colloquial term. Mints are aromatic, exclusively perennial, rarely annual herbs. Mint leaves are a leaf on a species of plants most well known for the fragrance and cool refreshing taste. Few plants with fragrant leaves may also be called mint although they are not from the mint family. For example the Vietnamese mint commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine known as smartweeds or pinkweeds and the Mexican mint marigold from the sunflower family.
The Mentha genus are widely distributed and can be found in many environments as most mentha grow best in wet environments and moist soils. Mints grows 10–120 cm tall and can spread over an indeterminate area. Due to their tendency to spread unchecked, mints are considered invasive. In general, mints tolerate a wide range of conditions, and can also be grown in full sun.
Mint can be either used as fresh leaves or dried and is best source of mint in cooking. Fresh mint is usually preferred over dried mint when storage of the mint is not a problem. The leaves have a pleasant warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor with a cool after taste. Mint leaves are used in teas, beverages, jellies, syrups, candies, raita and ice creams.
In Middle Eastern cuisine, mint is used on lamb dishes, while in British cuisine and American cuisine, mint sauce and mint jelly are used, respectively. Fresh mint is also used as part of an ingredient for the excellent aromatic rice based dish the Biryani. It is also used in preparing the delicious and mouth watering mint chutney served along with various kebabs and snacks and appetizers. Pudina leaves are well known for its pleasant aroma and are mainly used in cooking and garnishing foods. In India, pudina leaves are used in vegetarian dish as well as in non-vegetarian dish which adds flavor and aroma to the dish.
Mint is a necessary ingredient in Touareg tea, a popular tea in northern African and Arab countries. Mint flavor is also added in few alcoholic drinks such as the mint julep and mojito, crème de menthe (a mint flavored liqueur used in drinks such as the grasshopper).
Menthol and essential oil of are extensively used as flavorings in breath fresheners, drinks, antiseptic mouth rinses, toothpaste, chewing gum, desserts, cakes and candies; for example mint (candy) and mint chocolate. The substances that give the mints their characteristic aromas and flavors are menthol (the main aroma of Peppermint and Japanese Peppermint) and pulegone (in Pennyroyal and Corsican Mint). Mints are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Buff Ermine.
Mint has god many medicinal properties and was originally used as a medicinal herb to treat stomach ache and chest pains, and it is commonly used in the form of tea as a home remedy to help alleviate stomach pain. During the middle Ages, powdered mint leaves were used to whiten teeth. Mint tea is a strong diuretic.
Menthol is a mint essential oil (40%–90%) and an ingredient of many cosmetics and some perfumes. Menthol and mint essential oil are also much used in medicine as a component of many drugs, and are very popular in aromatherapy. Mint is also used in some shampoo products. Menthol is also used in cigarettes as an additive, because it blocks out the bitter taste of tobacco and soothes the throat. Mint oil is also used as an environmentally-friendly insecticide for its ability to kill some common pests like wasps, hornets, ants and cockroaches.
The strong, sharp flavor and scent of mint is sometimes used as a mild decongestant for illnesses such as the common cold.
Mint leaves juice is largely used as medicine for stomach disorders and morning sickness. It is said that drinking a glass of milk adding few mint leaves relieves abdominal pain. Mint leaves juice is applied to insect bite areas, so that it gets healed quickly.
The nutritional values per 100 g of Pudina leaves are:
Moisture: 84.9 gm
Protein: 4.8 gm
Fat: 0.6 gm
Minerals: 1.9 gm
Fibre: 2.0 gm
Carbohydrates: 5.8 gm
Energy: 48 K cal
Calcium: 200 mg
Phosphorus: 62 mg
Iron: 15.6 mg