This Science-Backed Trick Will Cool You Down in a Heatwave

One ingredient is all it takes.

<p>Getty Images/Adobe Stock</p>

Getty Images/Adobe Stock

When the hottest days of summer have a grip on us, we can sometimes struggle to find ways to cool off. Especially in the kitchen (PSA: keep that oven off!). But what if there was an easy, everyday solution right under our noses? Cooling off could be as simple as enjoying a minty treat—a fun trick I was amazed to somehow only just learn about.

While I have heard other methods of drinking hot tea or dining on spicy foods to get the body to physically cool down (mainly through sweating), somehow, the idea of eating some extra mint to cool off has eluded me until this particularly hot summer season. It's sure to be my new go-to strategy, especially since I have a sizable crop growing outside. Here's why it works.

5 Ways Mint Tricks the Body Into Cooling Down

Mint is a magical plant. There are several different ways it works to make us feel cooler and more refreshed.

Jenny Dettrick/Getty Images
Jenny Dettrick/Getty Images

The Menthol of It All

Mint leaves contain the compound menthol, which gives it its characteristic refreshing and cooling sensation (especially peppermint). When you consume mint or mint-flavored foods or drinks, the menthol interacts with the receptors in your skin and mouth, creating a cooling effect. It triggers the cold-sensitive receptors, which can make you feel cooler even though the actual temperature of your body remains the same. Just bite into a peppermint patty and "feel the sensation."


Mint is thought to have vasodilating properties, meaning it can help relax and widen blood vessels (the same effect that makes Bengay and VapoRub feel chilly). This dilation allows for increased blood flow closer to the skin's surface, which enhances heat dissipation to create that much-needed cool down.

Sweating Never Felt So Cool

In a similar manner to vasodilation, mint consumption may also stimulate perspiration—much in the same way spicy foods do. Sweating is the body's natural cooling mechanism. As sweat evaporates from the skin, it helps lower body temperature.

A Tasty Way to Hydrate

Drinking mint-infused beverages, such as mint tea or mint-flavored water, can encourage better hydration—which is essential for regulating body temperature.

Mind Games

The invigorating, herbal taste and aroma of mint can have a psychological effect as well. When you consume something cool and refreshing, it can help you "chill" out, even if the physical impact on body temperature might be limited. Come to think of it, a cone of mint chocolate chip ice cream seems to work for me every time.

<p>Dotdash Meredith Food Studios</p>

Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

The Best Ways to Use Mint to Cool Down

The real good news here is that mint is delicious, with or without any temperature-lowering properties. There are many ways to take advantage of the benefits and the flavor all in one. How good does sipping on a watermelon-mint agua fresca sound right now? Or perhaps even a frosty mint julep? What about digging into a fresh tomato cucumber salad with mint?

I'll definitely be testing this "cool" theory out with a vibrant mint chutney, this sweet and spicy Pepper-Mint Limeade recipe, and a bright lemon-mint sorbet. If you're too hot to cook at all, apparently chewing gum or even swilling mouthwash works, too.

It's important to note that while mint can provide a mild chilling sensation, it doesn't significantly alter your body's core temperature. In extremely hot weather or during physical exertion, it's crucial to take more substantial measures to stay cool, such as staying in the shade (or in air conditioning), wearing lightweight and breathable clothing, and staying hydrated with water—to name a few. Let the mint simply serve as a pleasant addition to these cooling strategies.

Read the original article on All Recipes.