Can you eat mint leaves?
In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Can you eat mint leaves?” we will analyse the health benefits of the mint leaves, and provide information on the nutritional composition of mint leaves.
Can you eat mint leaves?
Yes, you can eat mint leaves. In fact, mint leaves have long been used medicinally to treat a variety of conditions like cold, cough, asthma, fever, obesity, jaundice and digestive problems (1).
Besides being added in balms, drinks, inhalers, ointments and toothpaste, mint leaves are also used in cooking to add flavor to a dish.
What is the nutritional profile of mint leaves?
Mint leaves are a rich source of antioxidants and phytonutrients. They are rich in vitamin A, C, and B-complex, phosphorus, calcium, and have antibacterial properties.
Mint leaves are a good source of iron, and manganese (2), which may play a role in improving hemoglobin levels and promoting brain activity.
They are low in calories and comprise the least amount of protein and fat so they can be added to a weight loss diet plan easily.
One hundred grams of fresh spearmint provides (3):
- 3.3 g of proteins
- 8.4 g of carbohydrates
- 6.8 g of dietary fibre
- 13 mg of vitamin c
- 199 mg of calcium
- 60 mg of phosphorus
- 458 mg of potassium
How are mint leaves used in cooking?
Mint leaves have been traditionally used to season dishes, salads and soups in mediterranean and near-east asian countries. Also they are used to flavor teas, like in Morocco, or directly make infusions.
In modern recipes, you can use mint leaves to make chutney, mint margarita, mint soup, mint water, or use them as a garnish. Mint is also used as an ingredient in alcoholic drinks like juleps and mojito.
How to use mint leaves to improve health?
Mint or its essential oil has been studied scientifically for their beneficial effects on digestive problems (4), respiratory diseases (4), diabetes, memory and learning (1) and even to improve the body’s immunological response (5).
In traditional medicine, the range of uses is very wide. In general, mint is prepared as infusions and decoctions.
Diarrhea is treated with mint leaves and stems in Iran and Nepal (1). Digestive problems and stomach ache are treated with infusions of mint in Morocco, Iran, Pakistan and Nepal (1,6).
Respiratory disorders, like cough and sore throat, are also treated with mint traditionally in South Africa, Turkey and Morocco (1,6).
Diabetes is treated with mint in traditional medicine from Iran and Morocco (1,6).
Many other uses have been found for mint, like treatment of jaundice in Bulgaria, India and Italy (1) or even skin diseases and toothache in Morocco (6).
There are many other traditional uses of mint (1). However, although registered in ethnobotanical studies, traditional uses may be unsupported or with limited support from experimental science.
Are there any risks when taking mint leaves?
Although mint leaves are usually safe to consume, some health authorities recommend not to do it in excess by pregnant women or when breastfeeding. Food amounts are considered safe, though (7).
Although some mild general adverse effects have been reported in some cases for the most common species of mint (Menta spicata) (8), other studies found no effect of mint on pregnancy (9).
In this brief guide, we have answered the question, “Can you eat mint leaves?” with an analysis of the possible health benefits of eating mint leaves, and the nutritional composition of mint leaves.
1. Mahendran G, Verma SK, Rahman LU. The traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of spearmint (Mentha spicata L.): A review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2021 Oct 5;278:114266. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejogrb.2010.02.001
2. Faiku F, Maxhuni A, Faiku B, Nuro A, Rashiti P, Haziri A. Mineral content of two Mentha species (Mentha spicata L. and Mentha arvensis L.) growing in Kosovo. Bulgarian J. Agrocult Sci 2022, 28 (No 6), 1075–1079.
3. Spearmint-FoodData Central [Internet]. [cited 2023 Apr 12]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173475/nutrients
6. El Menyiy N, Mrabti HN, El Omari N, Bakili AE, Bakrim S, Mekkaoui M, et al. Medicinal Uses, Phytochemistry, Pharmacology, and Toxicology of Mentha spicata. Evid-Based Complement Altern Med ECAM. 2022 Apr 12;2022:7990508.
7. Spearmint: MedlinePlus Supplements [Internet]. [cited 2023 Apr 12]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/845.html