Go nuts for dental health: An unlikely superfood for your smile
With so many conflicting views out there it can be hard to know what exactly is good for our dental health and what isn't.
One minute we're being told to eat five pieces of fruit and veg a day, the next we're being berated by the experts for eating too much fruit because of the effect it has on our teeth.
From high acidity levels to too much sugar, it seems that the world of food is somewhat of a minefield when it comes to looking after our teeth. True, we do have things like dental insurance to repair any damage that may take place, but it's always better to avoid that damage in the first place.
That's why, in this series on good dental health, we're going to be looking at some serious superfoods for our smiles. In the first instalment we'll be talking about nuts. Perhaps an unlikely candidate, they're actually proven to offer some of the vital nutrients we need to maintain a healthy set of teeth and gums1.
Nuts about nuts: What's all the fuss?
Nuts are a great source of calcium and phosphorus, the minerals needed in order for teeth remineralisation to take place. This process helps protect the tooth enamel by allowing minerals to be redeposited after they've been removed by acids2. Nuts are also filled with magnesium, which is somewhat of a super mineral when it comes to teeth as it helps to make sure that the parathyroid glands are working normally. This produces the hormones that are important for bone health3.
So how can we get more nuts into our diets?
When eating nuts, it's best to steer clear of the over salted variety we're used to getting from behind the bar and think of imaginative ways to get them into our meals instead. Here are a few good examples of how you can do just this:
- Pear and walnut salad: This is an easy and tasty dish that is great either as an accompaniment to a meal or just on its own. There are plenty of recipes online, usually incorporating creamy stilton, the saltiness of which goes deliciously with the sweet and crunchy pears. Walnuts really make the dish and can be crushed slightly or simply included whole. Why not try Jamie Oliver's version for something a little special?
- Stir-fry with cashew nuts: A stir-fry is one of those one-pan wonder meals that's great for you and can be thrown together in minutes. So why not try adding in a handful of cashew nuts next time? Not only is it good for your teeth, it makes things a bit more exciting too. This BBC recipe for broccoli, chicken and cashew nut stir-fry might be a good place to start.
- Goats cheese and walnut tart: This goat's cheese and walnut tart requires no fiddly pastry making and can be assembled quickly before popping into the oven for around 15 minutes. The soft goat's cheese and crunchy walnuts are a match made in heaven, making this the perfect recipe for lunch, dinner or even a snack.
- Nut roast: With various initiatives out there trying to get us to eat less meat4, a nut roast could offer the perfect alternative to a traditional Sunday dinner. When made properly, a nut roast should be herby and delicious - and definitely not just for vegetarians! Try this BBC recipe for a nourishing change to the usual meaty Sunday roast.
Nuts aren't just great for your teeth, but fantastic for your overall health too. Plus, they have the power to take an ordinary dish from drab to downright delicious. So don't stop at snacking on handfuls of nuts - cook up a storm with them too. The world is your oyster with this tasty smile-enhancing superfood.