Chocolate can be good for your mind, body and…teeth!
If you’ve come here following our Insta post you’ll know that we’re currently talking about CHOCOLATE being good for your health.
If you landed here from elsewhere, Hi there! Let us catch you up!
Whilst most will instantly assume that the sweet, smooth, silky, indulgent, melt in your mouth, nectar from the heavens (did we go too far?!) treat is bad for our teeth, actually, chocolate (in moderation) can be beneficial.
We are dentists and, YES, we are saying that chocolate can be good for your mind, body and … teeth! No, we haven;t gone mad in this heat!
However, let’s clear something up first!
Milk chocolate contains milk and thus calcium, which as we know is good for teeth & bones. BUT, the sugar content is way high and cacao content low, so milk chocolate isn’t the best for teeth, unfortunately. It still has health benefits from the cacao and milk nutrients, but the sugar content let’s it down, from being so high!
Dark, raw chocolate, over 70% cacao and organic if possible; now we are talking benefits!
Here’s the science bits…
- Firstly, nutrients! What other sweet treat contains fibre, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, potassium, zinc AND selenium!?
- Dark Chocolate contains polyphenols which; fight bacteria in the mouth, neutralize organisms that cause bad breath and they also prevent some sugars from turning into acids. Those acids would ordinarily break down enamel and cause cavities and tooth decay, so the polyphenols protect your teeth.
- Theobromine is a component found in the cacao plant and is shown to improve energy levels, and have good remineralisation properties for teeth too.
- Tannins are what give chocolate it’s bitter taste and their molecules bind to bacteria, preventing it from sticking to teeth, great for plaque reduction. However, tannins can also cause stains, like they do in tea, coffee and red wine.
- Flavonoids, a group of plant based antioxidants, have been shown to slow tooth decay.
- The flavanols in dark chocolate stimulate nitric oxide production in the body, which can reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow.
- The flavanols and antioxidants are also found to improve memory, cognitive function and some studies even suggest that they can reduce, even prevent neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- Cacao also contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in the body.
- Polyphenols and theobromine have also been reported to lower ‘bad’ cholesterol and increase ‘good’ cholesterol.
- The antioxidants can prevent oxidative stress and neutralize free radicals, protecting cells and tissues in the body. Oxidative stress can cause aging, and also contributes to a number of diseases including diabetes, parkinsons, alzheimers, cancer and more.
- For the mind, dark chocolate contains feel good chemicals endorphins. They bind to our opiate receptors leading to feelings of euphoria. Also an amino acid called tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter of happiness and positive mood. Which is why many ladies when it comes to their time of the month, reach for a bar!
As you can see, the cacao in chocolate contains tons of nutrients and antioxidants, about 3 or 4 times the amount of green tea! For our body and mind, and most importantly for us Dentists, our teeth.
If you choose the bars with the most cacao content (at least 70%) and as little sugar as possible, like cacao nibs on cereal or smoothies, or a square of dark after dinner, you’ll inhibit the production of bacteria and plaque, protect enamel, reduce inflammation and prevent periodontal disease!
So chocolate lovers unite! And spread the news!