You’ve just finished a wholesome meal at a restaurant. There were lentils, gravies prepared in an assortment of spices, rotis, rice, pickles and, of course, a sweet dish to complete the meal. At the end of the meal, the waiter brings you a cheque and a bowl of some sugar-coated mukhwas (mouth freshener).
A closer look at the tiny bowl of mouth freshener and you will notice some familiar spices like seeds, nuts, anise, etc.
But did you know, there are a few natural and common ingredients in your kitchen that make for an excellent mouth freshener? Chewing them offers several benefits too, especially for boosting your oral health.
Here is a list of some of the best natural mouth fresheners you can easily find in your kitchen and the science behind them:
1. Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds are one of the most commonly used and go-to natural mouth fresheners in Indian households. Chewing a few sugar-coated or uncoated fennel seeds after a meal gives an instant shot of refreshment and helps control bad breath. Not just that, these tiny seeds also carry several medicinal properties. The seeds have been used in traditional medicine for a wide range of ailments related to digestion, the endocrine system, the reproductive system, the respiratory system and so on.
This is because they are packed with numerous valuable nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, manganese, copper, zinc, and phosphorus. Being a highly nutritious source, the presence of antioxidants and phytonutrients also offers several health benefits.
Chewing fennel seeds helps stimulate the release of nitrite, an element that helps maintain blood pressure levels. It also stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes thereby facilitating proper digestion. As they are a source of several minerals like zinc, calcium, and selenium that helps in treating hormonal imbalances, improving skin texture and fighting acne to leave glowing skin. Some studies also point out its benefit in maintaining good eye health, boosting lactation in breastfeeding mothers and also aiding weight loss.
2. Green cardamom pods
One of the most flavourful spices, cardamom helps fight the bacteria in the mouth. The spice is loaded with a variety of health-promoting nutrients such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, volatile oil (cineole), flavonoids, and ether extracts.
Its extract has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help in combating bacteria in the mouth which can lead to several oral diseases or infections. Besides, cardamom aids in digestion and related ailments and also boosts heart health.
3. Roasted coriander seeds
Roasted coriander seeds, a major ingredient in mukhwas, make an excellent and natural mouth freshener. Found in almost every Indian kitchen, this spice is known for its flavour making it an indispensable part of Indian cuisine.
Coriander seeds have a presence of a compound named Citronellol helps in refreshing the breath and also treating wounds and ulcers in the mouth due to its antiseptic property. These seeds are packed with phytonutrients and vitamins that help in boosting the immune system. Besides, they have antibacterial and antifungal properties.
According to a study, the essential oils present in coriander seeds have sedative properties thereby helping in relaxing the nerves and inducing sleep.
A sweet preserve made from fresh rose petals and sugar, gulkand is an ancient and popular preparation that has been used widely in Ayurveda for its nutritional and healing benefits. It also makes a great mouth freshener with several health benefits. It helps in curing mouth ulcers and provides a cooling effect around the affected area. It is also rich in antioxidants and a great rejuvenator. Besides, it is beneficial for getting relief from digestive issues like acidity, gastritis, indigestion and so on. Their antibacterial and antiviral properties also boost gut health and also help in reducing various skin problems like acne, boils, whiteheads, etc.
5. Mint leaves
Hailed for its unique and refreshing flavour, it also has several health benefits. Mint leaves are also one of the most common components in oral hygiene products like toothpaste, mouthwashes, chewing gums, etc.
Mint leaves are rich in nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, manganese, iron, and potassium. Chewing mint leaves helps in reducing bad breath as well as combating the bacteria behind it. Its extract has anti-inflammatory qualities that help in improving gut health and also provides relief from conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, etc.
Flower buds of the clove trees, clove is another spice that is highly aromatic and lends its strong flavour to several dishes. It is also a very efficient mouth freshener.
Cloves have antibacterial properties that help in reducing bacteria in the mouth and also help in reducing the risks of several other oral issues like bleeding gums, tooth decay, etc. This sweet aromatic spice is rich in antioxidants and the presence of a compound called eugenol is beneficial for liver health.
7. Guava leaves
Chewing guava leaves can be a perfect mouth freshener for those looking for a solution to beat bad breath. According to several studies, the leaf extract of guava has antibacterial properties. Therefore, chewing them helps in reducing inflammation of swollen gums, minimises plaque and also checks bleeding from gums.
8. Tulsi leaves
The holy basil, commonly known as tulsi, is one of the most easily available mouth fresheners. Chewing these leaves is quite effective for curing ulcers and infections in the oral cavity. Besides, it is also good for pyorrhea and other gum disorders. Besides, tulsi leaves contain vitamin C and antioxidants such as eugenol, a bioactive compound that helps in lowering blood glucose levels. The essential oils in the leaves can aid digestion and help in curing several gastric disorders.
Edited by Yoshita Rao