We’ve been talking about mint here the last couple of days. Mostly because it’s a pretty underrated natural living staple. Mint is popular in chocolate, popular in hot cocoa, popular in toothpaste…in other words, we appreciate it for its sharp flavor, but most of us haven’t given enough thought to where its real value lies.

Mint is a powerful natural remedy for several different ailments, easing everything from allergies to irritable bowel syndrome. It’s easy to garden (pretty hands-off, actually, as mint tends to spread quickly without help), and a delicious addition to many dishes. The sharpness that makes our mint-chocolate desserts delicious and intense can also be shared with other recipes, even main courses such as lamb.

One of the most effective ways to get your mint, though, if it’s a natural remedy you’re after, is just by eating the mint leaf whole. This is the fastest way to get the most out of your mint, and though it doesn’t involve chocolate the taste is pretty good.

To learn more about why you might want to start eating the occasional mint leaf, here’s some information from Perfect Formula Diet:

Ten Ways Mint Helps You Thrive

ONE. Numerous phytochemicals in mint are powerful anti-oxidants that obliterate the free radicals that menace your cells. Damaged cells can then lead to malfunctioning organ systems. Mint is effective in interrupting this process, thus staving off illness and perhaps even slowing the rate of aging.

TWO. Mint has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. Again this is related to the phytochemicals. Chronic inflammation is at the root of most chronic illness, so the action of mint to balance the inflammation that results from any threat to your body can be beneficial.

THREE. If you are looking for an ally to fight cancer, mint protects you cells from mutation and enhances the DNA repair process. In addition, peppermint oil is steam-distilled from mint leaves. This safe process avoids the toxic hexane used to extract most vegetable oils. So mint oil does not pollute you or the environment with cancer-causing chemicals.

FOUR. Mint helps prevent infections of many types. Researchers have demonstrated mint kills harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeast that want to set up residence in your body.

FIVE. For centuries, folk medicine used mint to calm the digestive system. Now science supports this, with studies showing mint prevents spasms and pain in your digestive system. Great if you just stuffed yourself with a too-big meal. Medical researchers have even found peppermint oil can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Have you ever eaten a mint leaf whole, without using it to season or enhance something else? What did you think about the taste? Of course mint leaves are also effective when shared with other delicious recipes (and let’s not forget: chocolate), but it can’t hurt to try something new. Let us know in the comments’ section how your own taste of mint leaves goes.