Give Your Valentine Dark Chocolate This Year and Brighten Their Smile

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If your valentine adores chocolate, make it dark chocolate this year and you’ll not only bring a smile to your loved one’s face, but you’ll be helping them with their oral health. Really? Yes, dark chocolate can help prevent tooth decay.

It’s not the chocolate that is good for your teeth – it’s the cocoa bean that holds the key to dark chocolate’s tooth-helpful properties. Cocoa beans contain a set of strong antioxidants that benefit your mouth and teeth - polyphenols, tannins, and flavonoids. Tannins are what gives dark chocolate its slightly bitter taste and its dark color. They also help prevent cavities by preventing bacteria from sticking to your teeth. Meanwhile, polyphenols are bacteria-fighters, working to eliminate bad breath, stop gum infections, and fight tooth decay. The final antioxidant in this trio is the flavonoid, which slows down tooth decay.

A bonus of dark chocolate is that because the antioxidants it contains fight gum disease, it can help fight heart disease. That’s because the bacteria associated with gum disease – also called periodontal disease - can also enter the bloodstream and cause heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.

There are three kinds of chocolate – milk chocolate, white chocolate and dark chocolate. The one closest to its original form is dark chocolate, because it has been processed less than the other two and thus has lost less of its tooth-friendly properties. Look for dark chocolate that is 70 percent cocoa. You won’t have a problem finding the cocoa percentage on dark chocolate – manufacturers make sure it is very obvious on the packaging. Here are some of the top dark chocolate bars available:

  • Lindt's Excellence Supreme Dark, 90 percent cocoa
  • Ghirardelli's Intense Dark Midnight Reverie, 86 percent cocoa
  • Ghirardelli's Intense Dark Twilight Delight, 72 percent cocoa
  • Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate, 60 percent cocoa

Another benefit of dark chocolate is that it contains less sugar than other varieties, so it's slightly better for your waistline, too.

But remember, dark chocolate is not a substitute for a regular diet of vegetables and fruit. While it’s antioxidant properties are definitely a plus, it’s not what you would call a “healthy food” if over consumed. There is still some sugar and an ample amount of fat in dark chocolate, and both of those can present health issues. A healthy intake would be 1 ounce of dark chocolate daily, or about the size of six Hershey’s kisses (which come in a dark variety). That will add about 150 calories to your daily intake.

So when you’re shopping for your valentine this year, skip the milk chocolate or white chocolate and head right for the dark chocolate. You’re certain to bring a smile to their face and a boost to their oral health.

Source: TLC

Favorite Treats That are Good for Your Teeth

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Pinch Yourself, You’re Not Dreaming

Studies have revealed that a few of our most favorite dietary vices may actually have cavity-fighting properties and be good for your teeth. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Dark Chocolate

All hail the cocoa bean!  This news may have been around awhile, but it’s still good news. Cocoa beans, which are used to make chocolate, contain antioxidants including flavonoids, polyphenols and tannins. Tannins are what cause dark chocolate to have that delightful yet bitter taste, and they also have properties which help to prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth. Polyphenols have antimicrobial properties, which means they help to reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth.

Bacteria in the mouth are what cause bad breath and gum disease. Research has been conducted by the University of Osaka in Japan, as well as other studies in the US and UK. If you’re planning to run out to get some dark chocolate, aim for 70% cacao or higher.

Cheese

If you're one of the many people who profess a love of cheese, you now have another reason to enjoy this tasty food. A recent study found that eating cheese raised the pH in the subjects' mouths and lowered their risk of tooth decay. It's thought that the chewing required to eat cheese increases saliva in the mouth. Cheese also contains calcium and protein, nutrients that strengthen tooth enamel.

Yogurt

Like cheese, yogurt is high in calcium and protein, which makes it a good pick for the strength and health of your teeth. The probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, found in yogurt also benefit your gums because the good bacteria crowd out bacteria that cause cavities. If you decide to add more yogurt to your diet, choose a plain variety with no added sugar.

Almonds

Almonds are great for your teeth because they are a good source of calcium and protein while being low in sugar. Enjoy a quarter cup of almonds with your lunch. You can also add a handful to a salad or to a stir-fry dinner.

Red Wine

Yes, you heard right. Red wine, like dark chocolate, also contains tannins and other antioxidants. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry recently concluded that red wine, whether or not it contained alcohol, inhibited the growth of bacteria and oral biofilms, which become plaque. The same study also found properties in grape seed extract to have similar antimicrobial properties.

Black Coffee

Results of a recent study released by Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University in Brazil have revealed that black coffee may also have properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria. The study found that an extract called Coffee Canephora, which is present in about 30% of the world’s coffee, helped to break down the biofilms. Coffee also contains tannins, the same antioxidants found in red wine and dark chocolate. The coffee bean cited in this study is called Robusta. Robusta is often found in darker, stronger roasts. The key is to drink coffee without cream or sugar, as both will counteract the potential benefits from the coffee beans.

Along with adding leafy greens, dairy products and fibrous vegetables to your diet, pay attention to what you're drinking. Since it has no calories or sugar, water is always the best pick, especially compared to juice or soda. Your diet makes a big difference when it comes to a healthy smile.

Enjoy, In Moderation

Is this all too good to be true?  Well, a little bit. Coffee, chocolate and red wine all have dark pigments that can stain teeth, which is why many dentists may encourage people to avoid them. Dental restorations such as crowns and veneers, as well as recently whitened teeth, may be more susceptible to staining, so it is important to follow the recommendations of your dentist.

If you plan to enjoy any of these treats, remember to do so in moderation. We also recommend you follow up with a good swish of water reduce the staining potential until you can find time to brush. Brushing for 2 minutes twice a day, and flossing, are a critical part of your oral health routine. It is also important to see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. The good news is that you can reward yourself after your dental visit with some delightful treats!

Source: Colgate.com, MouthHealthy.org (American Dental Association)

 

 

 

Is Dark Chocolate Good for Your Teeth ?

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Cocoa Beans Are Packed With Good Things Like Tannins, Polyphenols and Flavonoids

If you’re like most Americans, you’re a fan of chocolate. More than half of Americans eat chocolate daily and as a nation, we consume 3.3 billion pounds of chocolate annually. But all that chocolate isn’t necessarily good for the health of our teeth, is it? Actually, if some of those treats are made of dark chocolate, they can actually be good for your teeth! Yes, you read that correctly -- chocolate can prevent tooth decay. However, not every kind of chocolate is dental dynamite. The cocoa bean is what houses the good stuff - not the chocolate itself - so the closer the confection is to the bean, the better.

Cocoa beans contain tannins, polyphenols and flavonoids, each of which is a type of strong antioxidant that benefits your mouth and teeth. Tannins are what give dark chocolate it's slightly bitter taste and are responsible for the sweet's dark pigments. More importantly, they help prevent cavities by inhibiting bacteria from sticking to your teeth. Polyphenols limit the effects of bacteria, meaning they work to neutralize the microorganisms that cause bad breath, prevent infections in your gums and battle tooth decay. Flavonoids work to slow tooth decay, among other things.

Of the three kinds of chocolate (dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate), dark chocolate is the least processed and closest to the cocoa bean, which makes it the healthiest option of the three. For best results, the chocolate should be around 70 percent cocoa. Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate contains 60 percent cocoa, so it's a pretty good choice, but Ghirardelli's Twilight Delight is a better option at 72 percent. Other bars are even more beneficial, such as Ghirardelli's Midnight Reverie and Lindt's Cocoa Supreme Dark, which contain 86 and 90 percent cocoa, respectively. You should be able to find tooth-friendly dark chocolate at your local grocery store, and many bars advertise their cocoa percentage clearly on the label. Also, in case you needed another perk, dark chocolate contains less sugar than other varieties, so it's slightly better for your waistline, too.

So how, exactly, is dark chocolate good for your teeth? There's a bacterium in your mouth called oral streptococci, which produces acid that eats away at your tooth enamel. The antioxidants in dark chocolate prevent the bacteria from turning into damaging acids by acting as a sort of antibacterial compound. Also, the cocoa butter coats your teeth and prevents plaque from sticking to them.

Because chocolate has tons of antioxidants (about four times that of green tea), it can not only inhibit the production of plaque but also reduce inflammation in the body and work to prevent periodontal disease, a symptom of which is swelling of the gums. The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also enter the bloodstream and cause heart disease and other cardiovascular problems, so periodically consuming dark chocolate is beneficial to your heart health as well.

It's important to remember, however, that munching on a piece of dark chocolate is not like downing a plateful of veggies. It has some important health benefits, but it's far from a healthy food. Like any confection, dark chocolate should be consumed in moderation. It still contains ample amounts of sugar and fat, each of which comes with its own set of health issues. Also, like all chocolates, dark chocolate isn't exactly low in calories. The recommended intake is 1 ounce per day, which is equal to about six Hershey Kisses (don't worry, they're available in a dark variety). Even this small amount, however, contains as many as 150 calories, and since it tastes so good, it's hard not to indulge.

So get your hands (and teeth) on some dark chocolate today to enjoy what is arguably the most delicious but still beneficial food on the planet. Just remember to practice portion control so the health risks associated with an expanding waistline don't overshadow the benefits to your pearly whites.

 

Source: TLC