The fact is some foods just are better for you than others. Wondering what healthy foods will keep your dentist, doctor and mouth happy? Here's guest contributor Jacintha's must-try list!
We know soda, sugar and wine are bad for our teeth but what about all the good foods for them? I don’t think it’s a good idea to always dwell on what we cannot have so let us focus on what we can have to help those pearly whites. This is a list of delicious foods and beverages that will keep your dentist, doctor and mouth happy.
Did you know the acid in strawberries whitens your teeth and helps to remove dark stains? Eating this wonder berry won’t only keep your smile bright but also decreases blood pressure. Strawberries and their sister berries are keen cancer fighters too. They help fight colon, oesophageal, oral, and skin cancers. This humble berry is really a teeth cleaning, skin glowing, disease fighting and delicious fruit. Just one serving a day will keep the doctor happy and with only 6 calories to one large strawberry your waistline will be thanking you too.
Avocados or any high fibre vegetables work wonders for teeth. Not only do they scrub your teeth as you chew but they stimulate saliva flow for your very own detergent. The high water content in fibre rich foods counteracts the natural sugars, making this a teeth lover whilst the essential good fats will do wonders for your hair and skin. Some people steer clear of a food when they hear the word fat but good fats reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke as well as promoting brain function, so a small amount of good fats every day is a good idea.
What isn’t water good for really? The wonder liquid has zero calories, its hydrating, relieves fatigue, aids weight loss, prevents cramps, and the list goes on. When it comes to oral health, water is indispensable. Water is the main component of saliva and is a crucial rinsing agent, fighting against any unfriendly food you may have consumed. Water is beneficial, cold, hot or frozen, as long as you don’t bite the ice, the versatile and positive attributes water holds will have your body, dentist and doctor all smiling.
Sugar free cheese is a little wonder food. It's rich with calcium which is great for bones and teeth; it also stimulates saliva for self-rinsing. The calcium in dairy helps replace minerals leached from the teeth and prevents cavities; the fermented nature of cheese corrects alkaline levels in the mouth. Cheese should be eaten in moderation but dairy should be consumed daily. Mix up cheese intake with sugar free milks and yogurts, and avoid the fat free option.
5. Hot Drinks
Black tea, green tea, black coffee and cocoa are four staples in any healthy person's diet. Teas contain compounds called polyphenols which suppress and kill bacteria and tooth-attacking acid which causes plaque. The polyphenols in coffee also have bacteria fighting properties. Coffee can stain teeth so try drinking it through a straw and avoid swishing. Pure cocoa contains strong anti-mutan properties, but is only benificial if it’s not filled with sugary additives, so have another clean cuppa.
Nuts all have unique properties and vitamins making them little superfoods. Some oral and health benefits they boast of come from their calcium, vitamin D, fibre, folic acid, iron, thiamine, magnesium, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin B6, potassium and zinc content. The chewing helps promote saliva and exfoliates the teeth giving you another reason to indulge in a nut. The high protein and essential fats ensures you will feel fuller for longer making them a vitality-boosting healthy snack.
7. Wild Salmon
Another super delicious superfood which is also jam packed with good fats is salmon. The wild version promotes eye health, lowers blood pressure, protects from certain cancers, prevents high cholesterol and keeps weight gain at bay. Wild salmon is one of the rare foods that are a good source of vitamin D. Vitamin D and calcium are intrinsically linked, vitamin D allows calcium to be used and stored in the body. Calcium is the most important chemical needed to protect your skeletal system.
In my opinion, mushrooms rarely get the recognition they deserve. There are so many different varieties of them and they can really elevate a dish! Mushrooms are high in vitamin D, they boost your immune system, are high in antioxidants, assist our bodies in metabolizing fats and proteins, and is high in the trace element selenium. Try adding some in a stir fry, in soup or sub your meat patty for a juicy Portobello!
Garlic might not be the most popular food to eat due it's ability to give us some pungent breath, but my life would be incomplete without it. Garlic adds so much flavor to dishes and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Known as the stinky rose, garlic is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-clotting, reduces blood pressure, protects your heart, helps improve iron metabolism and even has aphrodisiac properties. To increase the awesome health benefits of garlic, let it sit after you chop or crush it to give the alliinase properties time to work their magic prior to cooking or using it.
Quinoa was the It food in 2013 and I imagine it'll continue to be one of the top superfoods in the future. It's one of the few foods that contain complete protein with all nine essential amino acids, it's rich in fiber, iron, magnesium and manganese which all work to help keep our blood cells healthy , relaxed and even helps reduce migraines. You can enjoy them fried, baked, steamed or boiled!
11. Brown Rice
White rice has always been a staple in my diet and as much as I love eating it, I hate that it has little nutritional value! Thank God for brown rice which is a bit chewier in texture, but offers loads of health benefits. Brown rice has been found to reduce the risk of certain cancers, lower bad cholesterol and has a high content of selenium, manganese and niacin. Selenium is vital for proper immune function and thyroid metabolism and manganese and niacin are known for their brain and heart boosting benefits.
Love it or hate it, broccoli is one of the healthiest foods around. Choose this colorful veggie for your fill of vitamins K and C, nutrients that build strong bones, supports a healthy nervous system and fiber. This smart carb is a great choice for weight loss as it aids in digestion and helps maintain blood sugar.
Although we generally shy away from eating too many potatoes, they're actually a lot healthier than we might think. Whether it's sweet potatoes, red or Russet, they're all high in vital nutrients such as folate, beta carotene, niacin, potassium and vitamins. The next time you need to make a side dish, don't overlook potatoes. Most everyone loves them and they're good for you!
All these foods and drinks mentioned are amazing and delicious, so you don’t really need an extra reason to eat them. But having a perfect smile, healthy body and happy soul is a better reason than any to indulge.
What are your favorite healthy bites that help look after your teeth?
This article was written in collaboration with editor Lisa Washington.