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  • The Fantastic Spices World

PEPPERMINT ( Mentha piperita L. )
Names in Other Languages:

English Peppermint
French Menthe anglaise, Menthe poivrée, Sentebon
German Pfefferminze, Minze, Edelminze, Englische Minze
Spanish Hierbabuena, Menta, Piperita
Italian Menta pepe, Menta peperina, Menta piperita
Turkish Nane, Gerçek nane
Japanese 薄荷 Hakka,西洋薄荷 Seiyō-hakka,ミントMinto

FAMILY: Lamiaceae

ORIGIN:   England and Africa; Northern Africa is a main cultivation area for today.


GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

Peppermint has greenish-purple lance-shaped leaves while the rounder leaves of spearmint are more of a grayish green color.

USEFUL PARTS: Leaves and whole herb .

SENSORY PROPERTIES: Pure and refreshing odour, pungent and burning taste.

MAIN CONSTITUENTS:

The essential oil of peppermint (up to 2.5% in the dried leaves) is mostly made up from menthol (ca. 50%), menthone (10 to 30%), menthyl esters (up to 10%) and further monoterpene derivatives (pulegone, piperitone, menthofurane). Traces of jasmone (0.1%) improve the oil’s quality remarkably. [1]

Menthol and menthyl acetate are responsible for the pungent and refreshing odour; they are mostly found in older leaves and are preferentially formed during long daily sunlight periods. Furthermore, the ketones menthone and pulegone (and menthofurane) have a less delightful fragrance; they appear to higher fraction in young leaves. Pennyroyal has small oval leaves, greyish in colour.

MAIN USES IN FOOD PROCESSING:
  Mint is used with many vegetables such as new potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and peas. A few chopped leaves give refreshment to green salads and salad dressings. Pennyroyal is used to season haggis and black puddings. Peppermint can be also used in desserts, adding fresh flavour to fruits, ices and sherberts. Spearmint is popular in the Balkans and Middle East, where it is used both fresh and dried with grilled meats, stuffed vegetables and rice and is an essential ingredient of dolmas, stuffed vine leaves. Dried mint is sprinkled over hummus and other pulse and grain dishes. It is used as yogurt dressings and also dips and soups often include mint. Furthermore peppermint is used to flavour toothpaste, chewing gum and liqueurs such as creme de menthe.

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES:

Peppermint oil can relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including indigestion, dyspepsia, and colonic muscle spasms. These healing properties of peppermint are apparently related to its smooth muscle relaxing ability. Once the smooth muscles surrounding the intestine are relaxed, there is less chance of spasm and the indigestion that can accompany it. Peppermint contains menthol so it effects its bowel-conforting effect.

--> A Potential Anti-Cancer Agent

It is plenty of Perillyl alcohol which is a phytonutrient and called a monoterpene. In some animal-based studies peppermint has been shown to protect against cancer formation in the colon, skin, and lungs. [2]

--> An Anti-Microbial Oil

Esssential oil of peppermint also stops the growth of many different bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It has also be found to inhibit the growth of certain types of fungus as well. [2]

--> Breathe Easier with Peppermint

Peppermint contains the substance rosmarinic acid, which has several actions that are beneficial in asthma. In addition to its antioxidant abilities to neutralize free radicals, rosmarinic acid has been shown to block the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals, such as leukotrienes. It also encourages cells to make substances called prostacyclins that keep the airways open for easy breathing. Extracts of peppermint have also been shown to help relieve the nasal symptoms of allergic rhinitis (colds related to allergy). [2]

--> A Rich Source of Traditional Nutrients

Peppermint is a good source of manganese, vitamin C and vitamin A, the latter notably through its concentration of carotenoids, including beta-carotene. Both vitamin C and beta-carotene seem to play a role in decreasing colorectal cancer risk. Vitamin C, the main water-soluble antioxidant in the body is needed to decrease levels of free radicals that can cause damage to cells.

In some investigations it is shown that there is a relation between increased vitamin C intake and decreased risk for colon cancer. On the other hand some studies have shown that vitamin C intake can help to decrease the incidence of colon tumors. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids have been shown in some studies to decrease the risks of developing both colon cancer and rectal cancer. Carotenoids have also been shown to increase cell differentiation and protect cells against carcinogenic chemicals that could damage DNA. Vitamin A, may help to decrease risk by preventing excessive colon cell proliferation and tumor formation.

Peppermint is a very good source of dietary fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, and calcium, vitamin B2 . In addition peppermint is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B2, potassium and copper. [2]

REFERENCES and SOURCES:

[1]http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Ment_pip.html

[2]http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?pfriendly=1&tname=foodspice&dbid=102

http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/mint.html

http://www.indianetzone.com/1/peppermint_leaves.htm

• Edris AE, Farrag ES. Antifungal activity of peppermint and sweet basil essential oils and their major aroma constituents on some plant pathogenic fungi from the vapor phase. Nahrung 2003 Apr; 47(2):117-21 2003.

• Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California 1983.

• Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986 1986. PMID:15210.

• Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York 1996.

• Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Dover Publications, New York 1971.

• Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988 1988. PMID:15220.