A superfood is a food considered to be nutritionally dense for its calorie count. Superfoods are great for your health in general – but which ones are best for your dental health specifically?
There are several factors that can make a superfood good for teeth, from being rich in calcium to decreasing the mouth’s acid level. In today’s article we’ll look at the ‘best in show’ for each category.
So, without further ado, which superfoods are, surprisingly, great for your teeth (and why)?
1. Red Peppers (and other rich sources of Vitamin C)
Vitamin C, or ‘ascorbic acid’, produces collagen, a protein that helps to fight gum disease. Without it, gums are more sensitive and susceptible to harmful bacteria. Vitamin C also helps to keep bones and teeth strong, and to maintain the immune system. Without enough, you could even end up with scurvy – and there’s really no excuse for that if you’re not on a pirate ship.
Red peppers, besides being packed with several other nutrients, contain almost 300 percent of our daily vitamin C requirements – more than green, yellow, or orange peppers (which are just less ripened red peppers). They’re also less acidic than citrus fruits, making them an ideal vitamin C superfood for dental health.
Also good: Strawberries, Kiwis, Sweet Potatoes.
2. Gruyère Cheese (and other Calcium-rich hard cheeses)
Calcium and phosphorous are two elements key to building tooth enamel. You’ll tend to get plenty of phosphorous from your protein consumption (red meat, tofu, eggs), but getting enough calcium can take a more conscious effort – especially if you’ve started rocking Almond Milk over moo juice.
Hard cheeses, consumed in moderation, are an especially good source of calcium because cheese is known to reduce the acid level in the mouth, counteracting the acidity of whatever foods you’ve just been munching on. Chewing hard cheeses in particular also increases saliva production, reducing bacteria.
Also good: Milk, Yogurt, Tofu.
3. Shittaake Mushrooms (and other rich sources of Vitamin D)
Vitamin D is important for your teeth because it helps your body absorb calcium, which is essential to enamel production.
Shiitake mushrooms are an especially smart delivery system for the good stuff, since they also contain lentinan, a compound that inhibits plaque formation.
Notably, a great meat alternative is wild salmon, which contains 4 times as much vitamin D per serving than farmed salmon. Must be something in the water.
Also good: Other fish, Egg yolks.
4. Kefir (and other probiotics)
Bacteria are typically the villains of the mouth – largely responsible for bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. Not all bacteria go rogue, however. Probiotics have been shown to help reduce gum disease and plaque formation.
Kefir is a superfood that’s not only high in probiotic content, but also contains calcium. That’s a dental double threat.
Also good: Yogurt, Sauerkraut, Miso.
5. Green Tea (and other polyphenols)
Similar to probiotics, polyphenols slow the growth of plaque-causing bacteria.
Green Tea is often perfectly timed for this task, coming at the end of the meal, when food-hungry bacteria are running rampant (how uncivilized).
Also good: Fresh cranberries, Flax seed.
6. Celery (and other crunchy watery fruits and veggies)
The abrasive texture of these superfoods helps to gently scrub teeth, like a natural toothbrush. Their chewiness also helpfully increases saliva production.
Celery, being especially fibrous, is an ideal superfood for this purpose. Throw some peanut butter and raisins on there too if you like – still good!
Also good: Apples, Cucumbers, Carrots.
7. Dark Chocolate (containing ‘CBH’)!
Dark chocolate, long since identified as superfood in its own right, is actually great for your teeth.
A compound found in the cocoa bean husk called CBH has been shown to strengthen tooth enamel in a similar way that fluoride does. It also has antibacterial properties.
But, no cheating – sugary milk chocolate is just as bad for your teeth as you think it is. Put the Milky Way down, ma'am.