The Seasonal Favorite That’s Also a Sneaky Superfood
This time of year is all about peppermint—the flavor gets featured in espresso drinks, chocolate bark, candy canes and other desserts all month long. But what you may not realize is that peppermint isn’t just a tasty addition to lattes and ice cream—it’s also a superfood that can help you feel less stressed, fix an upset stomach and, as you can see below, offer loads of other benefits.
Pain reducer: Stress often brings on tension headaches and migraines, which can put a damper on holiday fun. Studies have shown that applying peppermint oil to your forehead and temples can reduce physical pain as effectively as acetaminophen after just 15 minutes. Peppermint is also an effective remedy for stomach pain and can be used for ailments like IBS, dyspepsia or nausea.
Concentration helper: While peppermint helps relieve stress and relaxes you, it also stimulates blood circulation and alertness. In a 2008 study from the International Journal of Neuroscience, the scent of peppermint was found to significantly increase memory and processing speeds. This is also why many teachers encourage students to chew mint gum while studying or taking exams.
Immune system booster: Peppermint tea is a great way to ensure that your busy holiday schedule doesn’t leave you feeling under the weather. With high levels of potassium, calcium and vitamin B, it’s the perfect mix to give your immune system the help it needs.
Congestion reliever: If you still manage to catch a cold this holiday season, inhaling the scent of peppermint can help open up your airways. One of peppermint’s best active ingredients is menthol, a common ingredient in over-the-counter cold medicines. While there’s little evidence that menthol actually clears out your nasal passages, studies show that inhaling mint and menthol products tricks your brain into thinking it’s working, which can make you feel better.
Craving curber: With delicious holiday treats at every turn, the holidays can be especially stressful for anyone trying to stick to a healthy diet. A 2011 study showed that inhaling the scent of peppermint caused participants to feel less hungry and to consume 2,800 fewer calories throughout the week.
Photo credit: Liz West