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Mentha is a genus of mint family. The genus has a subcosmopolitan distribution across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and North America.

Mints are aromatic, almost exclusively perennial, rarely annual, herbs. They have wide-spreading underground and overground stolons and erect, square,branched stems. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, from oblong to lanceolate, often downy, and with a serrate margin. Leaf colors range from dark green and gray-green to purple, blue, and sometimes pale yellow. The flowers are white to purple and produced in false whorls called verticillasters. The corolla is two-lipped with four subequal lobes, the upper lobe usually the largest. The fruit is a nutlet, containing one to four seeds.While the species that make up the Mentha genus are widely distributed and can be found in many environments, most Mentha grow best in wet environments and moist soils. Mints will grow 10–120 cm tall and can spread over an indeterminate area. Due to their tendency to spread unchecked, mints are considered invasive.

Mint also known as Pudina.

Culinary uses of mint

Mint is a refreshing herb that can add zest and flavor to many dishes. There are many types of mint, from peppermint to ginger mint. Generally, the mint you find in the supermarket is spearmint. Mint can be added to drinks, mixed into side dishes or used to season meats.

Mint Drinks

Steeping mint leaves in hot water creates a soothing mint drink, traditional in North Africa. Crushed mint leaves combined with bourbon, sometimes sugar and ice results in a mint julep. Add mint leaves to freshly brewed iced tea or lemonade for a twist on a cooling summer classic.

Main Dishes

Middle Eastern cuisine adds mint to savory meats entrees such as lamb. Mint sauce also accompanies roasted lamb in western societies. Thai spring and summer rolls use whole mint leaves wrapped with the fillings to add a freshness to the dish. In England, lamb is traditionally served with a mint sauce ( also see Here n Here  and Here ).

Side Dishes

Tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern salad, combines chopped mint with bulgur wheat, chopped tomatoes and chopped cucumbers for a side to accompany any meal. Chop mint leaves and stir them into side dishes, as this herb pairs especially well with fresh peas, carrots, beans and potatoes. Couple mint with fruits such as berries and melon for a brighter flavor.

Chocolate and Mint

Mint pairs with chocolate in many desserts, from chocolate covered mint cookies to mint chocolate chip ice cream. The bright, cool mint flavor contrasts with the deep, richness of chocolate, making these an ideal pair.

Health Benefits of Mint

1. Pudina is packed with antioxidants and phytonurients that do wonders for your stomach. The menthol present in pudina helps the enzymes necessary for digestion and helps the process along, by acting on the smooth muscles of the stomach. These muscles when activated work more efficiently relieving indigestion.

2.It is also known to calm stomach cramps, help beat acidity and gets rid of flatulence. It helps the muscles in the stomach relax and promotes overall digestion. Drink a cup of pudina tea after every meal by either boiling the leaves along with a few green tea leaves or on their own for maximum benefits. 

3. A number of pain balms use mint extracts as the main ingredient in their products. That is because when the mint extract is used on an area that is hurting, it immediately provides a cooling effect that partially numbs the area. This helps in lessening the pain. Another method is to inhale the fumes of mint extract. This soothes the nerves and gives a calming feeling to the entire body. It indirectly soothes aches and pains as well as nausea associated with a headache. 

4. Mint has a unique property that soothes and calms itchy and infected skin. It  has potent anti- inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties which work wonders on acne prone skin, and is often used in a number of cleansers, toners and in some lip balms as well. The strong antioxidants present in mint leaves leaves the skin with a natural glow and rehydrate dull and dry skin.  Mint has a high content of salicylic acid which helps prevent pimples, blemishes and even helps get rid of blackheads. The compounds present in mint  helps in faster shedding of dull and dry skin which in turn helps avoid clogging of pores resulting in pimple free skin. 

5. Mint leaves are packed with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. That is why they are so great to for your oral health. It kills bacteria in the mouth preventing tooth decay, beats bad breath and keeps your tongue and teeth clean naturally. Just chew on a few leaves on mint regularly to keep dental diseases at bay.

6. Mint has a very strong odour which helps open up the airways and allows relaxed breathing. It is also an expectorant and helps the expulsion of phlegm, allowing the patient recover faster. Its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties help relieve inflammation along the respiratory tract. If you are suffering from a cough, drop one drop of mint extract in warm water and inhale the fumes through the mouth and push out the steam through your nose. This way mint extract passes through your throat and nose relieving both the areas. In the case of asthmatic patients the same principle can be followed. 

7. Since mint leaves purify the blood and have an anti-spasmodic effect on the soothe muscles of our body, it is a great remedy to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps. It also relieves nausea associated with the condition. Just brew a hot cup of mint tea and sip it several times through the day. It will make you feel calmer and soother your uterus too. read about the tried ans tested tips to beat menstrual cramps. 

8. Due to the effects it has on one’s stomach, it is a great remedy for expectant mothers. It helps relieve the nausea related to morning sickness by activating the enzymes necessary for digestion. Eating a few leaves or smelling the crushed leaves of mint every morning is a great way for mothers-to-be to overcome this difficult period. A warning though, mothers should be careful not to have this after the baby is born as it is known to affect lactation.

9. Mint leaves are packed with nutrients such as calcium, phosphorous, vitamin C, D, E and small amounts of vitamin B complex. All these compounds put together improves the body’s immune system, keeping it safe from infections and inflammation. 

10. In aromatherapy mint extract is used to beat stress and rejuvenate the mind. Breathing in the fumes of mint helps relax the body and calm the mind, freeing it of stress. It releases a small amount of serotonin in the brain that also helps beat depression. If you are feeling low, add a little mint leaves or mint extract to your bath water, or use mint extract on a vaporizer to get some relief. 

11. Mint has a potent phytochemical that can prevent various types of cancers. Called perillyl alcohol, the phytonutrient has shown the capability of preventing skin cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer in animal studies. Its benefits in this particular area are still under the scanner when it comes to humans. 

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