Someday, an enterprising food engineer will come up with a candy bar that contains all the vitamins and nutrients available in your average stalk of broccoli. But even if this miraculous sweet treat is technically good for you, chances are it won't be nearly as beneficial for your teeth and gums as said green veggie.
That's right, we just equated broccoli with oral health, but it's not the only green that'll help show off your pearly whites. All veggies have star qualities, but certain ones are dental dynamite. Crunchy vegetables, for example, are second to none when it comes to foods that fight tooth decay. Crisp celery, carrots and even bell peppers function like a toothbrush as you chew them, ridding your teeth of other food particles, acids and sugars. Many experts recommend tossing a couple of these bad boys into your lunch box to enjoy after a meal if you won't be able to get to a toothbrush right away. Vitamin C also runs rampant in these veggie snacks, which is vital to the health of your gum tissue.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach and broccoli are stacked with calcium, so they strengthen your bones, including your teeth. These nutritious selections are also packed with magnesium, which promotes dental health.
Our bodies convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A, another key player in the strengthening of teeth and bones. Leafy greens are a fantastic source of beta-carotene, but orange and yellow veggies like winter squash, carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes can also fulfill this requirement.
Although delicious and nutritious in their own ways, vegetables like escarole, pimentos, canned artichokes and pickles are actually detrimental to your teeth because they contain acidic properties. Try to enjoy them as part of a bigger meal to minimize the acid's potential for destruction, and if your meal is heavy on acidic veggies, curtail your brushing for an hour or so. All that acid weakens your enamel, meaning that you'll be brushing away plaque, acids and your teeth's protective covering.
Fortunately for your teeth and your waistline, most vegetables are naturally low in calories and rich in nutrients. If veggies don't exactly inspire your appetite, take some time to experiment with different preparation styles until you find a few that work for you and your family. Whether served raw, steamed, baked or boiled, you'll reap similar benefits that'll put you that much closer to sporting a megawatt smile.
- Alice. "Which foods are acidic?" Go Ask Alice. Sept. 12, 2003. (Sept. 18, 2011) http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/2485.html
- Dental.net Editorial Staff. "What Foods are Good for Your Teeth?" Dental.net. July 27, 2010. (Sept. 6, 2011) http://www.dental.net/dental-nutrition/foods-good-for-teeth/
- Reader's Digest. "3 Surprising Ways to Keep Your Teeth Healthy." 2010. (Sept. 6, 2011) http://www.rd.com/health/3-surprising-ways-to-keep-your-teeth-healthy/
- Stealth Health. "10 Tips for Healthy, White Teeth." Reader's Digest. 2010. (Sept. 6, 2011) http://www.rd.com/slideshows/10-tips-for-healthy-whiter-teeth/2/?v=all
- Women's Health Magazine. "Eat For Your Teeth." 2011. (Sept. 6, 2011) http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/food-for-healthy-teeth
- WebMD. "Diet and Oral Health." 2011. (Sept. 6, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/diet-oral-health