February. Unless you’re a snowmobiler, skier, or ice-fisherman, it’s a month the rest of us wish would quickly pass by. After all, frozen toes, creaky bones, and chapped lips aren’t the most fun ailments.
Even those of us in the South who brave a milder winter yearn for the days when a sweater is no longer required.
Despite the cold, though, there’s something about February that helps to melt away that deep freeze and warm us up both inside and out – Valentine’s Day. With Valentine’s Day comes chocolate! And, get this: chocolate can actually be good for your teeth?
Yes, that’s not a typo. Chocolate can be good for your teeth. The problem is, most chocolate we consume is so loaded with sugar and calories that the benefits we gain remain minimal.
That said, it’s always good to understand what makes the foods we consume good or bad for us, and since you’re likely to be consuming more than your typical quantity of chocolate this month, we thought we would help fill you in on chocolate’s teeth protecting qualities.
Scientists believe this antioxidant compound found in fruits, vegetables, tea, red wine, coffee, and chocolate helps reduce inflammation, cholesterol, and high blood pressure. It also protects against heart attacks and strokes.
When it comes to oral health, the perceived role of polyphenols in controlling inflammation could equate to a lesser incidence of gingivitis.
The velvety texture of cocoa butter not only helps make chocolate taste yummy and luxurious, it also helps coat the teeth when we bite into our favorite February treat.
This coating helps prevent plaque from sticking to the teeth shortly after consumption – another benefit for the much-maligned chocolate-shaped heart.
We’ve saved the best for last. Research over the past 10 years suggests that husks of cocoa beans contain antibacterial properties that offset the destructive effects of sugar on teeth, and can actually boost the mouth’s ability to fight off the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Now, before you rush out and stock up on chocolate as result of this good news … here’s a bit of unfortunate news. For now, at least, the husk is disposed of when manufacturing chocolate we consume today. And, while this may change in the future, in the short term, science is looking for ways to incorporate the beneficial properties of the husk into products such as mouthwash and toothpaste.
So, don’t be afraid of chocolate. As with everything in life, moderation is key. Chocolate can be a better choice for you than other types of sweets.