Peppermint Perks For Diabetes Care, And A Minty No Bake Recipe

Maybe the popularity of candy canes made peppermint a characteristic scent and flavor of the Christmas season, or perhaps peppermint is responsible for the longevity of candy canes.

Either way, long before December’s ubiquitous red and white striped candy decorated holiday trees, peppermint was harvested for its taste, and medicinal properties.

A member of the mint family, peppermint is a naturally occurring blend of water mint and spearmint. Its primary active components are menthol and menthone, substances that smell good, energize, diminish pain, and limit the growth of harmful bacteria. Ancient text references indicate peppermint has been used by cooks and healers since 1500 B.C.

Peppermint and Diabetes

Like many herbs, peppermint has properties that aid diabetes management, reminding us that nature’s diverse plant life supports human health and well being.

For instance, people with diabetes often have trouble digesting fats, and peppermint is known to help the liver process fatty substances by stimulating the flow of bile. Peppermint can also alleviate the bloating associated with gastroparesis, or slow digestion—and everyone who’s every lived appreciates timely gas relief.

Numerous animal studies suggest that peppermint influences glucose levels, and in some investigations it lowered blood sugar substantially, which makes one wonder why no human peppermint-glucose studies have been done. Fortunately, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence that in topical oils, creams, and ointments peppermint can dampen the discomfort of diabetic neuropathy.

Despite its benefits, some people are allergic to peppermint, and the herb may interact with certain drugs (e.g., simvastatin, cyclosporine, felodipine). People with gall stones, stomach ulcers, or gastroesophageal reflux should check with a doctor before ingesting peppermint.

Carob Mint Holiday Bites

While recipes containing a couple drops of peppermint extract will have little to no effect on our gas or glucose levels, here’s an adventurous no-bake minty and chocolatey recipe to enjoy any time of year.

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 6 to 8 medjool dates, pitted
  • 3 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 2 teaspoons spirulina powder (find spirulina in the vitamin section of health food stores, or online; it adds rich color, and nutrients to this recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon carob powder
  • 1 tablespoon water, plus 1 more teaspoon if necessary
  • 2 drops peppermint extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup dried coconut flakes

Preparation:

  1. Put sunflower seeds in a food processor; pulse until finely ground. Add dates; pulse until well integrated.
  2. Add coconut butter, spirulina, and carob power until combined. Add water, a bit at a time, until reaching desired consistency. To test, roll some of the mixture into a ball—it should stick together when pressed, but not be wet.
  3. Add peppermint extract and salt; start with one drop of extract and add a second if desired.
  4. Pinch off pieces of the mixture and roll into balls about the size of a quarter. Roll the balls in coconut flakes, and place on a serving platter.

Recipe makes 12 servings. One serving has approximately: 117 calories, 6.4 g total fat, 15 g total carbs, 2.4 g fiber, 1.7 g protein.

Sources: Chopra; New Directions Aromatics; Wikipedia; Total Diabetes Supply; Live Strong
Photo credit: liz west

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