It sounds too good to be true. Dentists are suggesting that it’s okay to eat chocolate in moderation. I think I may have died and gone to heaven.
As a chocolate lover, to hear this news has put an insanely big grin on my face. But while everyone is agreed that candy is bad news for teeth, why are dentists putting it around that chocolate of all things, may actually be beneficial for teeth? Let’s delve a little deeper….
There are lots of health benefits associated with eating chocolate, especially since it releases endorphins which are kind of feel good hormones. These are released when we’re feeling happy and doing things we enjoy like eating tasty food or exercising. But results from recent studies carried out in the US, Japan and the UK bolstered previous theories that chocolate is also effective at fighting plaque and tooth decay. In fact, they go as far as to say that chocolate doesn’t deserve its reputation as a cavity causing treat.
In fact, get a hold of this …… chocolate may actually prevent cavities!
Now here’s something really amazing! It turns out that certain compounds in chocolate may do a better job of fighting tooth decay than fluoride! Yep, you read that right. Researchers are actually predicting that one day we’ll all be brushing and rinsing with toothpaste and mouthwashes that contain CBH – a compound found in chocolate.
The appliance of science
Tooth decay is caused by the natural bacteria found in the mouth which turns sugar to acids. This causes the enamel coating to gradually erode and cause cavities. Compounds contained in the husk of the cocoa bean have an antibacterial effect which helps to stop plaque from forming. In other words, chocolate is less harmful for our teeth than other sweet foods that we’re warned against eating. Simply, the antibacterial properties found in cocoa beans offset any high levels of sugar that they contain.
So, talking about the cocoa bean extract… why is it more effective in fighting cavities than fluoride?
The CBH compound in cocoa is formed of white crystals and has a similar chemical structure to caffeine. It actually helps to strengthen tooth enamel making those who use it, less susceptible to tooth decay. So far, the effectiveness of this particular compound is still in the testing stages and has only been proven in the animal model. So it’s likely to be another two to four years before the product is given the go-ahead for human use, and is available for sale in the form of toothpastes and mouth washes.
But hey, in the meantime you can start ‘self-administering’ a dose of this ‘dental super food’ by eating three to four oz of chocolate every day. It’s a particularly delicious way to ingest this wonder compound and lower your risk of getting cavities. I’m still pinching myself that dentists are cautiously recommending chocolate. I mean …. for most of us chocolate is far more than a food – it’s a therapy.
So what sort of chocolate is best for our teeth?
Well, before you reach out for that beckoning Twix bar, here are a few things you should know….
It has to be said that dark chocolate is the best for teeth and as an added benefit, it’s great for your heart!. If you take a look at the sugar content of the three main types of chocolate, then in terms of grams of sugar per ounce, white comes in at 17, milk at 15 and dark chocolate at 14. Although they’re not poles apart, over time the sugar content can quickly add up and as you know, the more sugar you have, the more at risk you are of getting cavities – so you’ve been warned.
With that said, dark chocolate is rich in anti-oxidants – the ingredients that fight off free radicals. In addition, it is good for your heart and helps fight cancer. Dark chocolate has vitamins C, A, E and D and contains the minerals iron, phosphorus and copper.
While chocolate lovers may agree on its therapeutic value, the not so good news is that the best form for your teeth is cacao nibs. The trouble is that it doesn’t taste all that great.
So, what’s the second best option?
It’s dark chocolate containing less than six to eight grams of sugar, and organic wherever possible. Remember, chocolate is high in calories, so eat it in moderation, and keep a close eye on the calorie count, especially if you’re on a diet. Raw chocolate is even better because the antioxidants haven’t been messed with during processing.
So, go ahead and enjoy a square or two of chocolate, safe in the knowledge that you’re doing this for your teeth, but also you’ll benefit from a happier mood .