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Mint leaves have a wonderful flavor and lend foods a fresh taste. It is a popular ingredient in cuisines as varied as those of the Middle East and Vietnam. Mint leaves are also valued for their many healing properties. They freshen breath, soothe the stomach and reduce inflammation. Mint leaves are not as potent as concentrated mint oil, but they still have many of the same health benefits.

Flavor

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Mint has a fresh flavor that is valued in many different cuisines. Fresh mint is a common ingredient in many Middle Eastern foods and drinks, including tabbouleh and mint tea. The Vietnamese often include mint leaves in salads and rolled up with other foods in rice paper wrappers. Muddled mint provides a fresh flavor in two popular cocktails- the mint julep and the mojito.

Fresh Breath

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Mint is a popular flavoring ingredient for toothpastes and mouthwashes. Chewing fresh mint leaves also has a breath-freshening effect. The natural chemicals in mint help kill bacteria that can cause bad breath.

Digestion

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Mint leaves and mint tea soothe the stomach and reduce gas by relaxing the digestive tract muscles. Mint helps ease nausea, travel sickness and diarrhea.

Nutrition

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Mint contains healthy nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A and manganese. Vitamin C can help reduce levels of damaging free radicals in the body. Vitamin A is an antioxidant and helps prevent cancer. Manganese is important for fat and protein metabolism. Like other leafy greens, mint is a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Anti-inflammation

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Mint reduces inflammation and congestion. Chewing whole leaves releases menthol in small quantities for easier breathing. Mint also helps to relieve headaches.

About the Author

Fiona Fearey

Fiona Fearey has an undergraduate degree from Temple University and a master's degree from New York University. She has been a freelance writer and editor for over five years. She has written for Pluck on Demand and various other websites. Other professional experience includes education, the arts and decorative painting.