With temperatures dropping below 100 degrees, us desert dwellers can finally cheer, “It’s fall y’all!” While we might not be busting out our heaviest sweaters or jumping into piles of crunchy leaves, it doesn’t mean we can’t dive into the flavors of fall. Luckily some of the yummiest fall food favorites are good for your body and your smile.
There’s a reason jack-o-lanterns always have a toothy grin….they’re good for your smile! That’s because they, along with other winter veggies like squash, can boost blood circulation, immunity and help strengthen your bones.
Pumpkins contain vitamin A, which helps saliva flow and vitamin C, which helps boost your immune system. A healthy immune system is important for fighting off infections in the mouth. Pumpkins also have magnesium, an essential mineral for building strong teeth and bones.
Recipe Alert: Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes
After carving that mouth-healthy pumpkin, you’ll be left with a bunch of orange guts and seeds. Perfect for creepy Halloween décor but also great for your mouth. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of nutrients, including iron, zinc, and magnesium. Iron is especially important for your oral health—it helps prevent anemia, which can increase your risk for infection, mouth ulcers and problems with your tongue.
Recipe Alert: Oven Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away—but they work just as well for the dentist. Apples are full of vitamin C, which helps fight off bacterial infections. They also contain a lot of fiber, which is good for your digestion and your mouth. That’s because crunchy, fibrous fruits and vegetables are harder to break down—both in your mouth and your stomach. Crunching on an apple makes your mouth produce more saliva, which also helps wash away food debris and bacteria from your mouth.
Recipe Alert: Apple Spiders Halloween Treat
These little berries are small but mighty and help support good oral health. Cranberries contain an enzyme that helps repel bacteria from your teeth which means cavities are less likely to take hold. But a word of caution. Things like sweetened cranberry juices and cranberry sauce contain a lot of sugar, which is bad for teeth and gums. Also, like red wine, the dark color of 100% cranberry juice can stain your teeth—so be sure to brush after drinking it.
Fun Fact: Did you know cranberries contain 90% water but don’t actually grow in water? They actually grow on vines in sandy marshes.
Ah cinnamon, the loveable cousin to pumpkin pie spice. Not only does a pinch of cinnamon give an extra oomph to your morning latte, but research suggests it may help treat toothaches. Some compounds found in cinnamon have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties, which fight bacteria and might help prevent toothaches from developing or progressing.
Pro Tip: Add a teaspoon of cinnamon to your morning oatmeal or yogurt for a burst of fall flavor.
Nothing says fall like a big pot of chili simmering on the stove. And the star ingredient, the chili pepper, is good for your mouth. Chili peppers are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Specifically, chilis contain vitamin A, which protects your teeth and bones. It also helps reduce inflammation and infection in the tissues of your gums.
The homemade chili recipe options are endless—here are some our favorites based on different dietary needs:
All whole fruits and veggies are good for your total and oral health. But sweet potatoes are especially good for your smile because they’re another good source of vitamin C, which promotes healthy gums. Finding ways to modify well-loved dishes can go a long way for your oral health this holiday season. For example, instead of using sugary, canned sweet potatoes or yams, try opting for fresh, peeled and cut sweet potatoes instead.
Recipe Alert: Mouth-Healthy Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes
For more tips on using mouth-healthy ingredients in new ways, check out our archive of healthy recipes: http://deltadentalazblog.com/tag/healthy-recipes/