Mint tea, made from peppermint leaves, is common to Middle Eastern cultures and other cultures worldwide. The fresh scent of mint makes it an excellent choice in either hot or cold weather, and as a naturally low-calorie drink, it can help reduce your overall calorie consumption, helping you meet your weight-loss goals. To keep mint tea healthy, limit the amount of added sugar you use.
Peppermint tea, made from fresh or dried leaves, is naturally low in calories, with only 2 calories per 8-ounce serving. A same size serving of fruit soda has 101 calories, which means that drinking soda in place of tea can increase your total calorie intake by 99 calories. This is roughly 5 percent of your daily calorie amount for those on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet. In turn, drinking mint tea in place of soda twice a week for a year can lead to almost 3 pounds of lost body weight.
Limit the Added Sugar
Mint tea, especially the type that's brewed in Middle Eastern cultures, often contains a lot of added sugar, as the traditional preparation calls for a very sweet tea to be consumed at the end of a meal. A diet high in added sugar increases your chances of weight gain as well as obesity, so the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 to 9 teaspoons a day. Added sugar offers no nutritional value and is considered to be only “empty” calories. Instead, choose to sweeten your tea with stevia, a calorie-free sweetner that is made from the stevia plant. It is available for sale in the United States as a dietary supplement and is much sweeter than sugar, so only a little bit is needed.
Peppermint leaves contain a number of essential oils that have antioxidant properties. These oils are released when the leaves come into contact with water, especially hot water, so the properties are transferred over to mint tea. A 2006 review published in “Phytotherapy Research” stated the antioxidants in mint tea had strong anti-microbial and anti-viral activities, and peppermint oil may help relieve the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome. A 2010 study in “Pharmacognosy Magazine” also found that in peppermint oil had antimicrobial and antioxidant effects.
How to Make It
You can make mint tea from either dried or fresh peppermint leaves and even essential mint oil. To make it from dried leaves, steep a 1-teaspoon serving of dried leaves in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. When making it from fresh leaves, you can use either whole or chopped leaves. Use a 1 tablespoon serving of fresh leaves and 1/8 cup of whole leaves with 1 cup of water. Bring the water and leaves to a boil before letting it steep for five to 10 minutes. Peppermint tea from essential oil can be made with 2 to 3 drops of oil per 1 cup of hot water, and no steeping time is needed. If you decide to sweeten your tea, add the sweetener during the steeping process. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, you can probably drink large quantities of mint tea without worry of side effects.
Who Should Avoid Mint Tea
If you have acid reflux, also known as heartburn or GERD, it's best to avoid peppermint tea. Peppermint's calming effect on the intestines that is helpful with IBS can also relax the sphincter between your esophagus and stomach, causing reflux, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In addition, peppermint tea should not be given to babies or small children.